What’s that rash on your baby’s face?” I remember the first time I heard that question it filled me with dread. I was full of feelings of self doubt: have I been a negligent mom, lacking in hygiene or did my little one inherit my myriad of allergies that seem to plague my family?
Whether it’s pimples on a newborn’s cheeks or boil-like welts on baby’s bum when he gets feverish, a baby’s first rash can alarm even the most experienced of parents. But apparently baby rashes or rashes in young children are not uncommon. Perhaps because they present themselves visually and are usually unpleasant to look at they seem to alarm us more. But bumps and rashes are simply our skin’s way of reacting to certain irritants, infections or hormonal changes, and generally are not a cause for alarm.
“Because their immune systems are still developing, young children are more sensitive to foods, chemicals, viruses and dust than we are. As a result, there are so many different rashes they can get,” says Dr Byarugaba, Pediatrician at the Children’s Medical Centre – Kampala, Uganda.
While inflamed and itchy skin can be irritating and unpleasant to look at especially if scratched a lot, most rashes are harmless and will fade on their own. However, there are some rashes, though, like eczema, that can cause ongoing discomfort unless treated with medication although they may not be contagious. Others can also be more serious and contagious, for example if it is a skin infection.
Because it can be difficult to distinguish one type from another, it’s a good idea to check the rashes with a pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist or even with a general doctor when your child’s skin flares up. If a rash is accompanied by tightening of the throat, trouble breathing, obvious discomfort or high temperatures be sure to see a doctor right away.
A baby rash can be itchy and painful for your little one. Luckily, the usual suspects can be prevented. The commonest and usual suspects are nappy/diaper rash and the heat rash.
To prevent nappy/diaper rash
Change diapers early and often. Too much moisture, too little air, and prolonged contact with pee and poop are sure to irritate baby’s bum and bring on a rash.
Clean your baby’s bottom until it’s completely dry before you put on baby cream or vaseline.
Let your baby wander around with a bare-butt for some time each day or let them wear some loose cotton underwear. Allow baby’s butt to get some fresh air and “breathe”.
Heat rash is usually tiny bumps around the face, neck, chest and armpits. To prevent heat rash, keep the baby cool. Use light vests in hot weather. Dress your little one in loose, lightweight clothes, if it seems too hot.
For the rashes caused by a virus, you will find that they come along with a fever, make your baby weak, spread fast, and tend to last for three days or more. You will need to consult a doctor in these cases.