Recently, I got an email from my day care provider. "Just to
notify everyone, there has been an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in
your child’s classroom.” When I arrived to pick up my daughter, I encountered a
gaggle of squawking parents all frantically Googling the illness on their
phones. “Is this related to Mad Cow?” I heard one of them ask.
The answer is no, and, like many baby or toddler skin
conditions, it isn’t something parents need to agonize over. Here are some
common skin problems your little one may encounter, and how they should be
What it looks like: Baby acne looks similar to adult acne,
so for most of us, it looks pretty familiar and is an unpleasant memory of the past!
Raised red bumps, sometimes with a white head, appear on the skin, primarily on
How did my child get it?: Typically, this acne is blamed on
hormonal changes, just like when it appears in adolescents.
Treatment: Avoid oily lotions on your baby’s face. Wash
gently once a day with soapy water and pat dry. If it persists for more than
three months, see a doctor.
What it looks like: The child has red, raw, weeping skin in
the creases and folds of the body.
How did my child get it?: Moisture can remain trapped in the
creases and folds, causing irritation. It can be further irritated by rubbing
Treatment: Avoid using powders to absorb moisture. It can
actually trap more moisture against the skin and further irritate it. Try a zinc-based ointment
instead. If the rash is suddenly worse, it could be an infection. Seek medical
attention in this case.
3. Prickly Heat
What it looks like: Prickly heat or heat rash looks like
small red bumps surrounded by an area of red skin and typically appears on
clothed parts of the body.
How did my child get it?: The bumps occur as a result of a
hot, humid environment and excessive sweating. The ducts from the sweat glands become
Treatment: Make sure your little one is moved to a cool, dry
environment such as an air-conditioned room. Bathe the child in cool water, and
dress them in loose-fitting, breathable clothing. Be sure to hydrate!
What it looks like: Seborrhea, also known as cradle cap, resembles
a red, itchy rash that produces dandruff.
How did my child get it? It’s caused by a yeast-like
organism, but the full cause is currently unknown.
Hormones may be to blame.
Treatment: Typically, in infants, cradle cap goes away by the age of 6 months. However, it can be treated with mild baby shampoo and gentle brushing. A little warm mineral oil can also help.
What it looks like: This virus causes a red rash to develop
on the palms or the soles of the feet, sometimes coupled with mouth sores. The
rash can sometimes turn into blisters. Early indicator symptoms can include a
low fever and sore throat.
How did my child get it?: It is a contagious, though mild,
virus, spread like any other through contact and fluids.
Treatment: Stay the course. There is no treatment for the
virus itself, but over-the-counter painkillers can be used to manage
discomfort. It should clear up within seven to 10 days (no freaking out necessary!).
What it looks like: Hives generally appear as red, itchy,
raised welts on the skin. They can indicate a place where the child has come in
contact with something they’re having an allergic reaction to, but they can
also come and go on different parts of the body.
How did my child get it?: Hives are usually an allergic reaction to
something that has come in contact with the skin. Typical offenders are laundry
detergents or other allergens like pets or foods. However, some hives are
caused by autoimmune responses where there is no allergen present. The immune
system creates an unnecessary response and attacks the skin.
Treatment: Most hives can be treated with topical and oral
antihistamines. However, if your child is not responding to antihistamines, it
could be an autoimmune issue. Consult your doctor if you believe the hives were
not necessarily “caused” by anything and your child is not responding to OTC
treatment. They may need a course of steroids or immunosuppressive medication.
7. Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac
What it looks like: The skin is irritated, sometimes with
raised bumps, blisters or streaks.
How did my child get it?: Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are
plants that produce an oil that causes these skin reactions. Your child may
have had skin-to-skin contact with the oil, but the oil can also rub off on
clothing or pet fur. Consequently, the oil can transfer. Familiarize yourself
with what these plants look like so you can teach your child to avoid them.
Treatment: For a small percentage of the population, poison
ivy can be very serious. Some people are extremely allergic to the plant oil.
If your child has trouble breathing or swollen eyelids, seek medical
attention immediately. Most children, however, can be treated by washing the
area with warm water and applying
The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it can
be easy for parents, especially first-timers, to blow a skin problem out of
proportion. Keep calm, research for pictures, and when in doubt, call your