Spots and rashes on baby? Here's what's normal and when to visit a doctor

Some of the most common skin ailments that babies suffer from to put your mind at ease. (AJ_Watt/Getty Images)
Some of the most common skin ailments that babies suffer from to put your mind at ease. (AJ_Watt/Getty Images)

Being confronted with a spotty baby is the last thing you expect. After all, all the babies in the pictures have perfect skin.

The truth is, there are over 40 different kinds of temporary skin problems that can affect an infant.

So a baby whose face is covered in red spots, or with a greasy scale in her hair is completely normal, and shouldn’t be any cause for alarm.

As a concerned parent, it’s important to have an unusual rash or spot looked at by your baby’s paediatrician.

We’ve highlighted some of the most common skin ailments that babies suffer from to put your mind at ease.

Cradle cap (Seborrhea)

A thick greasy crust on your baby’s scalp is the result of maternal hormones still circulating in her system.

This condition often presents itself in the third month and lasts a few weeks. Some babies have only a mild case of cradle cap that rinses out easily with shampoo, while others require more serious action to clear it up.

Gently rubbing baby oil onto your baby’s scalp and then carefully combing out the scale should also help.

In a few cases, seborrhea may also affect your baby’s face, particularly around her eyebrows and nose, and presents itself as a red, irritating rash.

It’s best to consult your baby’s paediatrician for advice on how to deal with this condition, based on your baby’s symptoms.

Baby acne

Acne neonatorum may appear on your baby’s face and body two or three months after birth.

This condition is a result of the maternal hormones that continue to circulate in her bloodstream and stimulate her sebaceous glands.

This may include red bumps, pustules or blackheads. Surprisingly, baby boys are more prone to baby acne than girls.

This condition needs no treatment, and should just be given time to clear up.

Stork bites

Stork bites, the most common form of vascular formation seen in newborns, are the result of small blood vessels dilating under your baby’s skin.

Known also as “angel kisses” because they appear between your baby’s eyes.

They often appear at the base of the neck and scalp and usually fade away on their own after a few weeks or months.

Café au lait spots

Not technically moles or freckles, café au lait spots are hereditary, pigmented lesions that often have an irregular border. They are not normally present at birth but appear within the first few months of life.

Although they are usually harmless, it’s best to consult your doctor if these spots present themselves on your baby. They can, in rare cases, be an indication of an internal disease. 


These are little white bumps on your baby’s nose and face that are caused by blocked oil glands. They should disappear a few days or weeks later when the oil glands enlarge and open up again.

Mongolian spots

These are flat, grey-blue spots, often appearing as a bruise on the body of dark-skinned infants.

They can be small or large and are caused by some pigment that didn’t quite make it to the top layer of skin and should disappear by the time your baby reaches school-going age. 

Prickly heat

This presents itself as little red bumps on parts of the body that are inclined to overheat and sweat, like the neck, armpits and nappy area.

The best treatment is to keep these areas dry and dress your baby in loose-fitting clothing.


Eczema appears as dry, itchy patches on your baby’s arms, legs, chest, face, elbows or behind her knees, within 2 to 5 months of age.

It is caused by dry skin or allergies. Your paediatrician is the best person to consult as to the identification and treatment of eczema.

Yeast infection

Because yeast loves dark, damp places, this infection can appear on your baby’s tongue, groin or in the creases of her thighs. When it emerges on the tongue, it is called thrush and looks like dried milk.

Unlike milk, however, it cannot be wiped off. A yeast infection in the groin presents itself as an intense red rash with little red bumps around the edges.

It is treated with anti-yeast liquid medicine or cream. 

When to worry

If your baby is exhibiting any of the following you should seek medical attention as soon as possible:

Fluid-filled blisters

These could be a sign of serious bacterial infection

Small red dots over the body

These are called petechiae and could be caused by a viral infection.

Has your baby developed any of these skin ailments and what did you think when you first noticed the spot or rash? 

Chat back:

Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Should the red carpet portion of SONA be scrapped this year?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's inappropriate given the state of the country
94% - 1575 votes
No, it's part of the tradition
6% - 109 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.