7 Common Skin and Hair Issues in Babies

When you envision your infant's skin, you'll probably imagine it to be soft, spotless, and smooth (whilst emanating that irresistible baby scent!). And your baby’s hair? Silky and supple, right?

Needless to say, many new parents are shocked when they realize that their baby's skin and hair aren't exactly how they pictured them. Clearly, infants are a bundle of surprise — in more ways than one! 

The truth is that babies around the world are prone to all sorts of skin and hair troubles. Yup, splotchy, crusty, and itchy baby skin is unfortunately all too common.

But don't worry, there's no reason to panic because most of these baby skin problems are easily treatable. So, let's take a look at seven of the most common skin and hair issues in babies.

What Are Some Common Baby Skin and Hair Issues? 

It's but natural to want your baby to always feel happy, healthy, and comfortable. Indeed, nothing breaks a parent's heart like a suffering baby!

Thus, it's important to be aware of the common skin and hair issues that babies can encounter in their first few years so that they can be easily and immediately treated.

And remember, always consult a paediatrician or a dermatologist before choosing a treatment option for your baby. 

1. Baby Eczema or Infant Eczema 

Eczema is a condition that can bring about dry and itchy patches on the skin. One of the most common infant skin issues, baby eczema is not contagious, so don't get too worked up!

A baby with a red and itchy patch of eczema or dermatitis on their shoulder.

In light-skinned babies, eczema will likely show up as red or pink crusty patches. In dark-skinned babies, these patches might seem purple or grey. Usually, eczema flares are seen on the face, limbs, and joints. 

Experts believe that genetic factors, as well as external causes (such as allergens, heat, and dry skin), lead to eczema. When genes are at play, the condition is known as atopic dermatitis. If external factors or allergens are the culprits, the condition is referred to as contact dermatitis. 

Fortunately, parents can combat their little one's eczema by investing in a good quality baby moisturizer. Remember, always keep your baby moisturized — dry skin is a big no-no!

It's important to protect your baby's skin and maintain its natural barrier. You can also use home remedies such as coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, and aloe vera to combat the eczema patches and crusty skin. 

Additionally, make sure to dress your baby according to the weather and always opt for cotton clothes. Babies have really sensitive skin, so it's imperative to ensure that they are feeling comfortable at all times, especially if they have a skin condition like eczema that can quickly flare up due to external irritants.

The good news is, more often than not, babies outgrow eczema by the time they enter school. 

2. Cradle Cap

Cradle cap, or infantile seborrheic dermatitis, is a condition that causes thick, scaly, and oily patches — often white or yellow — on the scalp. You might see flaky scales and crusts around the baby's face, neck, and groin as well. This particular skin issue is not infectious and is very common in newborn babies. Cradle cap is also sometimes referred to as crib cap. 

A mother using a soft comb to remove cradle cap flakes from a baby's head.

Interestingly, experts don’t exactly know what causes cradle caps (the fungus Malassezia is often a suspect), but it is to be noted that the condition isn’t serious! In fact, it usually goes away on its own within a few months. 

It's also important to know that cradle caps aren't itchy and don't cause your baby any discomfort (yes, let out your sigh of relief!). However, they are quite unsightly.

You can bathe your baby regularly using mild shampoo and soap in order to combat the scaly patches on the skin and around the hair. 

The flakes, scales, and crusts can be carefully removed by hand without scratching the skin or pulling at the hair. Alternately, you can use a soft brush to gently get rid of the flakes and crusts.

Petroleum jelly or soothing oils can also be used to loosen the flakes from your baby's scalp. It's important to keep your little one moisturized!

3. Hives

Hives (or urticaria) are red bumps or welts that can appear on the skin due to an allergic reaction. So, if you see that your baby's skin is covered in mosquito bite-like bumps that are kind of blotchy and in clusters, chances are that it's a case of hives.

The red and itchy welts of urticaria (also known as hives or nettle rash) seen on the arm of a baby.

Now, hives come about due to an allergic reaction; essentially, the baby's immune system reacts aggressively to something in its environment. The allergen could be a food item, an insect bite, pollen, pet dander, a chemical, a medicine, or even an infection. 

Usually, hives go away on their own within a few hours. However, if your baby is distressed, incessantly crying, facing difficulty breathing, vomiting, choking or dealing with extreme itchiness, then please take them to the hospital. These other symptoms need immediate medical assistance. 

But don't panic! The good news is that most cases of hives aren't serious and can be dealt with at home.

A cool, soothing oatmeal bath and loose, clean clothes will definitely help your baby's skin condition.

You can even apply some calamine lotion or cool compresses to the tiny red and raised bumps. Sometimes, oral antihistamines, prescribed by a doctor, also come in handy. 

Additionally, based on how quickly the hives came about and what your baby was exposed to, you can try to figure out the allergens so as to avoid them in the future.

However, it's often hard to figure out the cause of the allergic reaction, so it's best to consult a doctor. Meanwhile, make sure your young one doesn't scratch at the hives! Keep your baby's nails short and away from the affected areas. 

4. Diaper Rash

Uh oh, is your baby’s bum red and itchy? Diaper rash is one of the most common rashes seen in babies. This kind of rash appears as a red inflammation on your baby's bottoms, thighs, and genital area.

Red patches of diaper rash or diaper dermatitis seen on the thighs of a baby wearing a nappy.

Diaper rashes can make babies very uncomfortable, as the skin becomes tender, itchy, and painful. They usually come about due to long periods of wetness (thanks to urine and faeces) caused by infrequent diaper changes.

If your baby's skin is extra sensitive, prone to chafing, and exposed to abrasive clothes, then diaper rashes may become a more regular occurrence. Fungal infections and allergic reactions can also lead to diaper rashes. 

Thankfully, diaper rashes can easily be treated and your baby's bottoms can quickly be soothed. Simply make sure to change diapers frequently and maintain good hygiene in and around your baby's genital area and buttocks.

Don't forget to wash your baby's bums gently after each diaper change and pat their skin dry with a clean, soft towel. Even try changing diaper brands to see if that'll help. Or, if you use cloth diapers, wash them thoroughly with a mild detergent and make sure there's no kind of residue left behind. 

It's also good to let your baby spend some time without a diaper — diaper rashes are wet and moist and thus need to be exposed to air. Dressing your baby in loose cotton clothes will also be helpful.

You can also use fragrance-free diaper rash creams, coconut oil, calendula oil, or aloe vera to soothe your baby's nappy rash.

5. Ringworm

Ringworm, or tinea corporis, is a fungal infection that leads to itchy bumps and red patches on the skin. This skin infection is called ringworm due to its characteristic red rings with raised edges and clear centres. It is a highly contagious skin issue that babies are often afflicted with but can easily be treated. 

Ringworm or tinea corporis seen on the thigh of a child.

Ringworm in babies is usually caused due to skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, the sharing of bath towels or water, playing with an animal that has a fungal infection, crawling around naked, or running around barefoot. Most babies like touching things, so it's no wonder that they pick up all sorts of unwanted microorganisms! 

Ringworm is more common in children who are active outdoors and often comes about in summertime (though they can appear at any time of the year). The infection also tends to affect skin that stays sweaty or is irritated already, such as skin in the diaper area. 

Ringworm can appear on any part of the baby's body, such as the limbs, torso, and scalp.

To treat ringworm in babies, keep their skin clean and dry at all times. An over-the-counter antifungal cream, prescribed by a doctor, will provide quick relief to your young one.

Meanwhile, avoid skin-to-skin contact with other babies who may be suffering from contagious skin conditions and try your best to wash your little one's hands regularly. 

Additionally, don't let your baby scratch the affected areas, as skin breakage can cause further problems, such as a serious bacterial infection.

Tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and lavender oil can also be used to get rid of ringworm. In severe cases, however, please take your baby to the doctor immediately.

6. Prickly Heat or Heat Rash

Prickly heat, also known as heat rash or miliaria rubra, is a common skin condition that usually appears during hot weather or when the baby is sweating excessively.

Tiny red bumps of prickly heat or heat rash on the arm of a newborn baby.

If you see small red bumps and blisters on your baby's skin that are causing them discomfort, chances are that it's a case of prickly heat rash.

Heat rashes are typically seen on the face and in skin creases and folds, where heat and moisture get trapped. These rashes are itchy, and so you might find that your baby is more cranky and upset than usual. 

A heat rash usually goes away on its own, but you can try some simple remedies to help soothe your baby's skin and reduce the discomfort.

Keep your little one's skin cool and dry — make use of a fan, stay away from direct sunlight, apply a cool compress to the affected skin, or give your baby a soothing bath using a mild soap. 

You can also dress your infant in loose, comfortable clothes made from natural fabrics like cotton that help their skin breathe.

If the rash is severe, you can use an anti-itch cream, calamine lotion, or aloe vera to relieve the itchiness. Usually, prickly heat goes away in a few days. If the itchy rash persists, reach out to your doctor.

7. Baby Dandruff

Baby dandruff is a skin condition that leads to dry, flaky skin on baby scalps. Some experts are of the opinion Malassezia, a type of yeast that grows on skin naturally, is the reason behind baby dandruff.

A mother gently shampooing her baby's scalp and hair on a bathing stand.

However, others believe that babies develop dandruff due to dry skin, irritated skin, sunburns, exposure to harsh chemicals (in soaps, lotions, and shampoos), and extreme weather changes.

Baby dandruff usually appears as white or yellowish flakes on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, and between hair strands. It's usually not a cause for concern, but it is believed that it can lead to cradle cap over time.

To treat baby dandruff, avoid using any harsh soaps or shampoos on your baby's hair. Instead, opt for gentle, fragrance-free baby care products. 

You can also try applying baby oil or cream onto your baby's head and gently massaging it into the skin. Additionally, using a humidifier in the room where your baby spends most of their time can help in keeping their skin moisturized and thus combat dryness and dandruff.

Speak to a paediatrician if you’re worried that your baby’s dandruff is a sign of a more serious skin condition, like an allergy. 

Nurture and Protect Your Baby's Skin and Hair with Nature's Baby

Now that you are aware of some of the most common baby skin and hair issues, you must be wanting to make sure that your own baby never has to face any of them!

Often, baby products are loaded with chemicals that cause more harm than good. If your baby's skin is extra sensitive, it's best to avoid brands that make use of fragrances, harsh preservatives, parabens, sulfates, and additives.

With Nature's Baby, you can breathe a sigh of relief and give your baby's skin and hair the gentle treatment they deserve. Not only are our products good for your baby, but they are also good for the planet!

USDA certified organic, cruelty-free, and minimally processed, Nature's Baby's plant-based baby products cater to all of your little one's needs. In fact, you can even use these baby products for yourself, as they suit all skin types!

Dermatologist-approved and hypoallergenic, organic baby products by Nature's Baby will help nourish your little one's skin and hair on a daily basis and also combat the common issues we discussed in this article. In fact, our products are specially formulated for those with sensitive skin and allergies.

For example, our Organic Diaper Ointment (Fragrance Free) — containing calendula extract, organic tamanu oil, and organic chickweed extract — effectively heals diaper rash whilst protecting the skin's natural barrier.

With Nature's Baby, you truly do give your child the care they deserve. 

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