Rashes are quite common in children, as are their sources – be it an allergic reaction or leftover hormones from mom. There are also skin rashes due to illnesses. These are sorted into viral rashes and bacterial rashes. Let’s take a closer look at rashes, especially a baby rash around the eyes.
Newborn Baby Skin Rashes – Eyes, Chin, Neck, Back & Stomach
Newborns may look rather swollen directly after birth. After all, it’s not easy being pushed through that vaginal canal. The result is often a swollen face, a flat nose, and sometimes cheek bruising. Then, you may notice some newborn rashes .
This is also called toxic erythema of a newborn or urticaria neonatorum. Although the name may sound scary, it is a common skin rash in newborns. Individual lesions can appear within minutes or hours after birth but usually resolve within the first two weeks after birth. Although their origin is unknown, this rash is not typically dangerous. The pinkish red rash occurs anywhere on the body.
Milia presents as tiny white bumps that appear on the chin, cheeks, and nose of your little one. This is due to keratin getting trapped under the skin. (Keratin is a protein.) The white bumps on the skin are actually cysts, not pimples. They are neither painful or harmful. Leave them alone, and they should resolve on their own. However, if they do not disappear after 3 months, let your pediatrician know. Milia is very common in newborns but can occur at any age.
Baby acne develops on the skin between 2-4 weeks of age. It can appear red spots or whiteheads on their forehead, cheeks, around the eyes, the chin, and even on the back. The skin rash is sometimes accompanied by reddish skin. Its origin is not clear but is believed due to mom’s leftover hormones. Baby acne typically resolves on its own, but if you are concerned about your baby’s appearance, call your pediatrician.
Baby heat rash
Baby heat rash is also known as miliaria or prickly heat. It’s caused by the combination of heat and sweat on your baby’s sensitive skin. The rash can appear on any parts of your baby’s skin from their forehead to their legs, including the area around the eyes. Baby heat rash may occur because your little one’s sweat glands aren’t fully mature. If the sweat glands and pores get irritated, the baby heat rash may turn into a bacterial infection. Symptoms of a bacterial infection include the rash does not clear up within a few days or develops a discharge Also, if your baby develops a fever or appears to be in pain, contact the doctor immediately as this could be indicative of a more serious condition.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It can be caused by a variety of conditions and diseases. The inflammation usually involves the part of the eyelid where the eyelashes grow. Blepharitis can affect both eyelids. The inflammation of the oil glands of the eyelids can lead to reddening and crusting of the eyelashes. Your baby may experience red, irritated, itchy dandruff-like scales. Blepharitis can cause a burning sensation and itching. Your baby should not be allowed to rub the eyes, as that can result in a secondary infection or blurred vision. This baby rash around the eyes can be potentially serious, and your pediatrician should be contacted immediately if your baby develops symptoms of blepharitis. The condition is not contagious.
Baby Dermatitis – What Is It And Should I Be Concerned?
Throughout the course of your little one’s childhood, you may hear your pediatrician mention dermatitis. Dermatitis describes an inflammation of the skin. It has many origins and occurs in many forms, but most involve an itchy rash on swollen and reddened skin. Here are some common types of dermatitis.
This is also known as diaper rash. It is usually red and scaly. Diaper rash is caused by urine and feces being trapped in the diaper. It’s not unusual for even the best- cared- for infants to develop this skin condition. Diaper rash typically occurs in children under age 2. It can range from mild to severe. The skin becomes red and irritated in areas that are covered by diaper as well as well as the creases of the legs.
Candida diaper dermatitis
In this case, a yeast infection develops. It’s often preceded by diaper dermatitis. Symptoms include a rash that is dark red and slightly raised. It has a defined border. Although, occasionally, small red bumps or pimples appear outside the borders.
The medical term for cradle cap is seborrheic dermatitis. It can present on your baby’s scalp as dry white flakes or crusty oily patches your baby’s scalp. At times, the surrounding area is reddish in color. Cradle cap can develop beyond the scalp. It is not uncommon for this baby rash around the eyes, nose, eyelids, eyebrows, and behind the ears. Also, seborrheic dermatitis can develop in the diaper area behind the knees. Cradle cap is a common rash in newborns.
Contact dermatitis may occur when a baby’s skin comes in contact with soaps, fragrances, and plants such as poison ivy. Hives typically develop during an allergic reaction. It is an itchy red rash that appears raised on the skin. Hives can develop as an allergic reaction to food, bee stings, medications, or harsh chemicals. The rash typically clears up after a few days. If you are not sure what is causing hives on your baby, call the pediatrician.
This skin condition is also known as atopic dermatitis. It often develops within the first few months after birth. Eczema presents as red, crusty patches that can occur anywhere on the body. Parents may confuse baby eczema with cradle cap, but there are some pivotal differences. Eczema is typically redder and more scaly. Eczema can occur anywhere on the body, especially on the joints of their arms and legs and cheeks.
What causes eczema? Eczema develops when the body makes too few fat cells called ceramides. It may also develop if there are issues with the skin barrier in which the skin loses moisture and becomes more susceptible to germs. Also, there is definitely a genetic component to eczema. It’s not unusual that if a parent has eczema, their baby is more likely to develop it as well.
But, eczema is quite treatable in babies and young children. Avoid irritants that can worsen the rash, such as fragrances and soaps that contain harsh chemicals. Heat can also aggravate eczema, as can stress. Fortunately, many children outgrow eczema before they start school. You can help your child by ensuring you use baby products that do not contain harsh or harmful chemicals that can further dry the skin.
Perioral dermatitis is a common form of acne (rosacea) that develops around the eyes, nose, and mouth. It looks like many tiny pink or skin colored bumps. Researchers don’t know the cause of this skin condition but have been known to be triggered by steroid medications that are taken orally, topically, or inhaled. Another possible cause is an overgrowth of normal skin mites and yeast.
Baby Illness: Viral Rashes vs Bacterial Rashes
It’s always difficult to see your child get ill. When that illness causes a rash, it can be a challenge to treat.
Slapped cheek syndrome
Slapped cheek syndrome (Fifth Disease) is a viral infection that sometimes occurs after your child develops a cold. The slapped cheek moniker presents as a rash on a child’s body, especially on the cheeks. The rash manifests bright red or pink in color. It is often accompanied by a low-grade fever, a runny nose, and an upset stomach. This illness is due to parvovirus B19. Slapped cheek typically resolves within 1-3 weeks. However, there are times when it can become more serious. Your child has immunity from this illness once they recover.
Scarlet fever is due to the bacterium S. pyogenes, or group a beta-hemolytic streptococcus. This is the same bacteria that is responsible for strep throat. It usually begins with a sore throat and fever, followed by pink-red blotches that eventually look like a sunburn. Antibiotics are required to treat this bacterial infection.
A bacterial infection causes impetigo. It appears as a crusty rash that is the same hue as honey. The rash develops around the eyes, nose, and lips. In rare instances, impetigo can develop into cellulitis, a potentially dangerous condition. It is treated with antibiotics, so contact your doctor should impetigo develop.
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious disease caused by an initial infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a type of herpes virus. (There is a vaccine for this disease). Symptoms include fever, headache, various aches and pains, and a very itchy red rash. Eventually, the red spots develop fluid-filled blisters. The blisters eventually scab over. Picking the fluid-filled blisters and subsequent scabs can cause permanent scarring. Calamine lotion is sometimes used to soothe the itchy rash. Other complications of the chickenpox virus may include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and bacterial skin infections. Parents must be diligent in not letting their child pick at the chicken pox rash, as they can develop herpes in their eye. When it affects the eye, it’s called herpes zoster ophthalmicus.
Herpes simplex, type 1, or HSV1, which causes cold sores on your lips and mouth, can also lead to eye problems. It usually results in an infected cornea. This is called this herpes simplex keratitis. Other complications of the chickenpox virus may include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and bacterial skin infections. It should be noted that there are several types of herpes viruses. (The herpes virus that causes cold sores and chickenpox are not the same as the virus that causes genital herpes.)
Other Baby Skin Rashes
Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by bacteria. The skin rash is typically flat or only slightly raised, bright red, and painful to the touch. Treatment usually requires antibiotics. Periorbital cellulitis can result from complications of impetigo. This can be a potentially serious infection, as orbital cellulitis can spread to fat and muscle around the eye. Permanent vision loss is a possibility.
An allergic reaction can be due to any number of causes: pollens, seasonal, diet, or a milk allergy. The latter typically starts early in life. Allergic reactions can also be caused by physical contact, such as poison ivy or harsh chemicals. Remember, the younger the baby, the more sensitive skin.
In particular, hives (urticaria) can be indicative of an allergic reaction. Typically, they are the size of a pencil eraser (wheals). They can occur anywhere on the body, including the face. Some are as small as pimples while others can be the size of dinner plates. Some join with each other to form plaques. There are different types of hives. One form of urticaria forms only after firmly stroking or scratching the skin. This is called dermatographism. Hives can be quite itchy and sometimes burn. It’s important to know the source for why your child breaks out in hives.
Various insect bites can also cause a baby rash around the eyes. Tiny mite bites can result in painful, itchy rashes. Chigger bites are more often grouped in skin folds. Bee stings result in a red, swollen, itchy, and painful area.
How To Treat And Prevent Baby Rash Around Eyes
Treatment of a baby rash around the eyes or anywhere on the body depends upon the source of the rash. If the rash is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever or pain, contact your pediatrician to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. Some general guidelines include:
If your baby has baby acne, no specific treatment is needed. However, you can ease the itching and dryness by doing gentle cleansing from time to time. If the acne doesn’t disappear after three or four months, talk to a dermatologist.
Keep them cool
Heat rash is common during the summer. Prevention is key when dealing with prickly heat. Dress your child in lighter clothing to avoid making them sweat a lot. If a heat rash does develop, use a fragrance-free skin cleanser to remove the sweat from their skin. The heat rash should resolve within a few days.
Change diapers regularly
As mentioned earlier, diaper rash develops when there is contact with a baby’s sensitive skin and a wet or soiled diaper. The exposure to moisture and bacteria can cause a subsequent rash. You can improve your baby’s skin by regularly changing their diapers and making sure that their skin is dry and moisturized. Let them go without diapers for a while after taking a bath, as this will help reduce moisture from being trapped in their skin and their diaper.
Apply antifungal cream
If your baby has a yeast rash, an over-the-counter antifungal cream can be applied topically to help reduce the abundance of yeast. Always consult your pediatrician before using any creams or lotions that are medicated to ensure that you get the right dosage and type. You can prevent yeast rash from occurring by keeping your little one clean and dry all the time.
Depending on the source of the rash and the age of your baby, your pediatrician may suggest a steroid cream. Never apply this cream without first checking with the doctor.
To ease pain and itching, apply a cool compress. Never rub the rash. Instead, dab the area. Don’t let your baby rub the rash.
Organic wash and moisturizer
Never underestimate the benefits of a good body wash and moisturizer. Organic products include certifications that guarantee products are made with organic ingredients. You never have to worry about your baby absorbing harsh ingredients or harmful chemicals.
Contacting Your Child’s Pediatrician
Help your doctor diagnose the rash by noting the following:
- Location (baby’s head or diaper area)
- Accompanying symptoms (fever, body aches)
- Characteristics (degree of redness, blisters)
- Possible exposure to environmental factors (chemicals, irritants, etc.)
Newborn rashes are quite common. That’s not surprising given their sensitive skin. While some rashes may be the result of hormonal changes, others may be an allergic or viral infection and even bacterial in nature. Some skin conditions can start benign but turn dangerous (impetigo). Other rashes should be monitored closely from the onset (chickenpox). Being familiar with various baby rashes is essential. However, if you’re not sure what is causing that baby rash around the eyes, never hesitate to contact your pediatrician.
Baby Rash Around Eyes Resources: Mayo Clinic; Baby Rashes, Common baby rashes, August 30, 2017.
 Patient Perspectives; What is perioral dermatitis?, Keith Morley, MD, James Treat, MD.
 NHS; Rashes In Babies And Children, February 15, 2018.