Last updated on Feb 25th, 2021 at 03:28 pm

A baby’s skin is thinner than an adult’s, which is why your little one’s skin is far more prone to irritation and rashes. Caring for your baby’s sensitive skin can sometimes be an uphill battle. Angry red rashes, itchy patches of skin and irritating spots are bound to make an appearance in baby’s life during the first year.

Dermatologist Dr Gary Levy offers some helpful advice on the most common paediatric skin conditions.

Cradle Cap

This condition is most prevalent between the ages of three and nine months. The exact cause of cradle cap are still unknown, but it has been established that poor hygiene isn’t to blame.


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  • Cradle cap can be recognised by patches of yellow scales over your baby’s scalp.
  • Flaky, dry skin that looks like dandruff can also be an indicator of cradle cap.


  • Apply a bit of baby oil to soften the scales.
  • Then use a mild shampoo to wash your baby’s hair and comb out the thickened scale on her scalp.

How to prevent cradle cap?
Wash your baby’s hair with a mild baby shampoo on a regular basis and comb her hair daily. This may stop the scaly patches from forming.

Nappy Rash

This occurs when a baby’s bottom comes into contact with her urine or faeces, and also when her nappy is wet for long periods. Nappy rash is less common in babies who wear super-absorbent disposable nappies.


  • Redness in the nappy area.
  • Sometimes this rash can spread to your baby’s legs and abdomen.
  • The red rash may be spotty, blotchy or cover a larger area.


  • Clean your baby’s bottom with water and a moisturiser at each nappy change, and apply a water-repellent moisturiser afterwards.
  • If you use cloth nappies, change them regularly and minimise the use of plastic pants.
  • Don’t rinse cloth nappies in antiseptics.
  • If possible, let your little one roam around without a nappy for a couple of hours every day, exposing her skin to warm, dry air

Atopic Eczema

Atopic eczema often occurs at about four months, and is thought to affect one in every five children. It‘s an inherited familial condition associated with hay fever and asthma, and according to Dr Levy, clothing that has been washed in harsh detergents can also aggravate this condition.


  • Extremely itchy rash on your baby’s face, the inner creases of the elbows and behind the knees.
  • Scales and small red pimples may also be present in these areas.


  • Avoid bringing your baby in contact with potentially irritating substances like chlorine, bubble baths, strong soaps and dust.
  • Use non-perfumed skin care products on your baby’s skin.
  • Keep your baby’s skin moisturised to create a protective barrier.
  • Consult a doctor if the above measures don’t seem to help.

Heat Rash

Babies have smaller sweat glands than adults. They sweat to cool down and when they sweat too much, their sweat glands get clogged, forming a heat rash.


  • Little bumps and sometimes tiny blisters in the folds of your baby’s skin.
  • The rash may also be present on your baby’s chest, stomach, neck, crotch and buttocks where her clothes fit snugly.


  • Don’t overdress your baby.
  • Add one or two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to her bathwater.
  • Dab the affected areas with calamine lotion.


Many babies are born with tiny white bumps on their nose, chin or cheeks. “These are called milia and often disappear on their own within a couple of weeks,” explains Dr Levy.

Wash your baby’s face daily with water and mild soap.

Baby Acne

Baby acne often develops after the first month of birth and can be attributed to maternal hormones during pregnancy. Red or white bumps will appear on your little one’s forehead or cheeks.


Baby acne usually disappears on its own after a few months. But, in the meantime you can wash her face with water and a mild soap on a daily basis.

The difference between a skin rash and a disease like measles or chicken pox:

Dr Levy says it is not too difficult to tell the difference between common skin rashes and rashes from infectious diseases. “Most childhood infections are preceded by a prodromal (early symptoms) phase. In the case of measles, usually a cough, fever and red eyes will precede the fine red rash that starts behind the ears and rapidly progress to cover the rest of the skin.” He adds that children coming down with chicken pox may have a fever and be a bit irritable before extremely itchy spots make their appearance on a child’s body.