Baby Rash: causes, types and treatments​ 

There’s nothing like the softness of your baby’s skin. But because it’s so sensitive, it also means they’re more prone to irritations. Baby rashes are often not a risk to their health, but even small rashes can be worrying for you and distressing for your baby! 

We’ve put together a guide on baby rashes, including what baby rash is, what may cause it, the different types of baby rash and how you can treat them if one appears on the body. 

Baby rash: what is it 

Babies can develop a rash at any time, from newborns to toddlers. Different rashes can present in different ways, from spots and pimples to red, itchy or dry patches. Babies can get rashes all over their body, from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. 

Most baby rashes are nothing to worry about and will pass on their own without needing to see a doctor. However, some can be a symptom of something more serious. 

Baby rash: causes 

Some of the most common causes of baby rash are: 

  • Allergies 
  • Heat 
  • Friction 
  • Chemicals and fragrances in soaps, detergents or creams 
  • Dampness 
  • Irritants like wee and poo 
  • Fungal, bacterial or viral infections 

A rash is also a very common symptom for a range of different medical conditions or can be sign of a more serious condition like meningitis. 

Types of baby rash 

Because there are so many kinds of baby rash, we’ve put together a list on a few of the most common causes and how you can manage them. 


Baby acne 

Baby acne looks like spots and pimples on your baby’s cheeks, forehead and nose. 

Baby acne: causes 

It’s unclear what causes baby acne, although it could be caused by maternal or infant hormones. 

Baby acne: treatment 

Baby acne doesn’t need treatment and will usually clear up on its own. 


Cradle cap 

Cradle cap looks like scaly, greasy patches on your baby’s scalp that are yellow or white. In some cases, it can also appear on the face and nappy area. It’s not itchy and does not irritate your baby. 

If your baby has cradle cap, you may notice that they lose hair when the scales come away. Don’t panic! This is normal, and their hair will grow back. 

Cradle cap: causes 

It is not clear what causes cradle cap, although it is not contagious. 

Cradle cap: treatment 

Cradle cap can be easily treated at home. Massage an emollient into the dry patches and gently brush the scalp with a soft brush and wash it with mild baby shampoo. 


Atopic eczema 

Atopic eczema is an itchy rash that can affect around 20% of children in the UK. In babies with pale skin, it can look like a red rash. For babies with darker skin, it may look either red or darker than the skin around it.  

Atopic eczema: causes 

Eczema is influenced by genetics and can be triggered or made worse by irritants like soaps and detergents, allergies, changes in temperature and even some kinds of fabrics. 

Atopic eczema: treatment 

There is no cure for eczema, but you can help ease the symptoms with emollients or topical corticosteroids that may be prescribed by your doctor. If your baby has eczema, you should speak to your doctor. 

It’s also important to look after their eczema-prone skin, which includes trying to stop them from scratching, avoiding things that may trigger eczema and considering dietary changes if their eczema is caused by a food allergy. 



Hives, or urticaria, look like raised, itchy patches that can occur all over the skin. 

Hives: causes 

Hives may be caused by an allergic reaction and will usually clear up on their own. The allergic reaction could be triggered by foods your baby eats (peanuts, shellfish and eggs are all common allergies), or it could be through contact with something like pollen or dust mites. Rarely, hives could also be caused by an allergy to antibiotics.  

Hives: treatment 

Hives will usually clear up on their own but can be treated with an antihistamine if they are very irritating. 



Milia, or milk spots, are very small white or yellow spots that develop on newborn baby’s faces. They can appear a few days after birth. 

Milia: causes 

Milia are caused by trapped dead skin cells that form cysts below the surface of your baby’s skin. 

Milia: treatment 

Milia will generally clear up by themselves in a few weeks. 


Hand, foot and mouth disease 

Hand, foot and mouth disease presents as blisters on the hands and feet with ulcers in the mouth. Your baby may also have a high temperature, sore throat and be unwilling to eat.  

Hand, foot and mouth disease: causes 

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection. 

Hand, foot and mouth disease: treatment 

There is no treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease but it typically gets better on its own in around 10 days. You can ease your baby’s symptoms by encouraging them to eat soft food, drink a lot of fluids and giving them a child safe painkiller. 


Impetigo causes sores and blisters to form on your baby’s skin. These sores can be itchy and may burst, leaving behind crusty, yellowish-brown patches.  

Impetigo: causes 

Impetigo is caused by a bacterial infection and is contagious, so measures should be taken to limit it spreading. 

Impetigo: treatment 

If you think your baby has impetigo, you should take them to the doctor. It is often treated with antibiotic creams or tablets. 


Heat rash  

Heat rash, or prickly heat, looks like small, raised spots with some mild swelling that’s often itchy or prickly. 

Heat rash: causes 

Heat rash is caused by excessive sweating in high temperatures. It’s common in babies as they cannot control their body temperature as effectively as adults. 

Heat rash: treatment 

Heat rash will generally clear up on its own. If your baby has heat rash, you should try to keep their skin cool so the rash doesn’t get irritated. Dress them in loose, lightweight clothing, bathe them in cool water and ensure they’re drinking enough. You can also help soothe the prickling feeling by applying a cold, damp cloth to the area. 



Roseola causes a high temperature and a rash. Your baby may also be suffering from cold-like symptoms like a runny nose and swollen glands in their neck. 

A roseola rash is usually made of pink or red spots, patches and bumps on their chest, tummy and back which then spreads to the face and arms.  

Roseola: causes 

Roseola is caused by a viral infection, and is contagious. 

Roseola: treatment 

Roseola should clear up in a week or so, but you should let your child rest if they don’t feel very well. 


Nappy rash 

Nappy rash is a common rash that develops around your baby’s bottom. To learn more, head to our blog on what nappy rash is, what causes it, and how you can treat and prevent it at home. 

Nappy rash: treatment 

If your baby has nappy rash, you can take proactive steps to help their skin recover. You need to make sure you change their dirty nappies quickly and avoid using soaps, bubble baths and lotions. You should also make sure their nappy fits properly. 

You can help to protect your baby’s skin and prevent nappy rash with a barrier cream like Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment. Bepanthen creates a breathable layer that helps to protect young babies’ skin from the causes of nappy rash.


If your baby has a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding beneath the skin that does not disappear or fade when you press a glass to it, this could be a sign of meningitis, which is a serious infection. Other signs of meningitis are: 

  • A stiff neck 
  • Drowsiness  
  • Irritated by light 
  • Quick breathing 
  • A high temperature 
  • Skin looking pale, mottled or blotchy. 

If your child has a rash with any of the above symptoms, you should call 999 or take them to A&E. 


Baby rash 

As babies’ skin is so sensitive, it’s important to look after it to keep your baby happy and comfortable. Some ways you can treat and prevent rashes are: 

  • Bathe your baby in warm water, not hot. Hot water can irritate their skin 
  • Don’t add liquid soaps and cleansers to your baby’s bath water – just water will do! 
  • Change wet or dirty nappies as soon as possible 
  • Make sure your baby’s nappy fits well 
  • Be aware of irritants that can cause contact dermatitis. Some common irritants include saliva (from a baby dribbling), some soaps, bubble baths and lotions and washing detergents. 

If you’re worried or unsure about your baby’s rash, you should visit your family doctor for advice, treatment and possible diagnosis.