My baby has a rash

It's normal for babies to develop rashes from as early as a few days old. If your baby has a rash but doesn’t show signs of illness, speak to your midwife, health visitor, or your GP. If your baby appears unwell, call your GP or GP out of hours service

  • Most rashes are harmless and go away on their own
  • Babies can have ‘non-specific rash’ which means it is often hard to say what caused the rash.  As long as they are well and comfortable, continue with normal care
  • Causes for skin rashes tend to differ in babies compared to older children.  Sometimes viruses can cause a rash in addition to other symptoms such as fever and cough
  • If your baby is unwell and has a rash which does not disappear on pressure (glass test positive), please contact 999

Related topics: my baby/child has a rash (over 3 months)eczemaMeningitis

Some Common Rashes


About half of all newborns develop tiny (1-2mm) white spots on their face. These are called milia. 

These are just blocked sweat pores. They usually clear within the first four weeks of life.

Milia Image

Erythema Toxicum

Half of all new-borns develop a blotchy red marks with small bumps and weal’s scattered over face and rest of the body.  This is called erythema toxicum. This is usually seen at two or three days old. It's a normal new-born rash that won't bother your baby and clears after a few days.

Cradle cap

Cradle cap is where yellowish, greasy, scaly patches develop on a baby's scalp.  Occasionally, as well as the scalp, the face, ears and neck are also affected 

  • it isn't itchy and shouldn't bother your baby- if your baby is scratching or upset, they may have eczema.

  • it is a common condition that tends to develop within two or three months after birth 

  • it usually gets better without treatment in a few weeks or months 

Things you can do to try and get rid of cradle cap:

  • gently washing your baby's hair and scalp regularly with mild, non-perfumed baby shampoo and gently loosen flakes with a soft brush

  • gently rub on baby oil or vegetable oil to help soften the crusts 

  • use baby oil, vegetable oil or petroleum jelly overnight and wash with baby shampoo in the morning

  • do not use olive oil or peanut oil as they are not suitable

  • do not use soap/adult shampoos and do not pick crusts as this can cause infection 






Nappy rash

Nappy rash occurs when the skin around the baby's nappy area becomes irritated.  It occurs due to a combination of moist environment, chemical irritants and friction.

  • is often caused by exposure to wee or poo for a long period of time

  • it can sometimes be the result of a fungal infection

You can usually reduce nappy rash by taking simple steps to keep your baby's skin clean and dry by frequent nappy changes. If the rash is causing your baby discomfort, your health visitor or pharmacist can recommend a nappy rash cream to treat it.

Antifungal cream may be necessary if the rash is caused by a fungal infection. For futher information see Nappy rash - NHS


Baby acne (neonatal acne)

Baby acne usually develops about two to four weeks after birth. Tiny red or white bumps appear on the baby’s cheeks, nose, and forehead, which may be surrounded by red skin. The cause is unknown. It typically clears up on its own in about three to four months without leaving marks.

Regular home care should be enough to treat baby acne:

  • Wash your baby’s face with a gentle soap

  • Don’t scrub hard or pinch the irritated areas

  • Avoid lotions or oily face products

  • Do not use over the counter acne products that you would use on yourself-this can damage baby’s delicate skin

If you’re concerned that your baby’s acne isn’t going away, your doctor can recommend or prescribe safe treatments



Eczema is a dry skin condition which causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. 

The most common form is atopic eczema. It mainly affects babies and children but can continue into adulthood.

Creams and ointments can often relieve the symptoms.

Please see our information on eczema in the dedicated webpage


Eczema Rash.jpg

photo used with permission from

Sweat rash (miliaria)

A heat rash is sometimes called miliaria or prickly heat. It may flare up when your baby sweats. For example, because they're dressed in too many clothes or the environment is hot and humid.

It's a sign your baby's sweat glands have become blocked.

They may develop tiny red bumps or blisters on their skin, but these will soon clear without treatment.

When should you worry?

If your child has any of the following:

  • A rash that does not disappear with pressure (see the “Glass Test”)
  • Becomes extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction)
  • Becomes floppy or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • A temperature less than 36oC or temperature 38oC or more if baby is less than 3 months
  • Breathing very fast or breathing that stops or pauses
  • Working hard to breathe, unable to talk or noisy breathing
  • Pale, blue, or mottled skin, lips, or tongue and /or cold hands or feet
  • Difficult to wake up, very sleepy or confused
  • Weak, high-pitched, continuous cry or extremely agitated
  • Has a fit (seizure)

You need urgent help

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following:

  • A rash that looks like small blisters or fluid filled spots
  • Broken skin and the surrounding area becomes warm to touch or red. Look out for redness around the base of the umbilicus (belly button) in the first few weeks of life
  • Nappy rash that isn’t getting better with simple measures such as regular nappy changes or barrier creams
  • A fever for more than 5 days or shivering with fever (rigors)
  • Breathing a bit faster than normal or Working a bit harder to breathe
  • Dry skin, lips, tongue or looking pale,
  • Not had a wee or wet nappy in last 12 hours
  • Sleepy or not responding normally
  • Crying and unsettled
  • Poor feeding (babies) or not drinking (children)
  • A temperature 39oC or above in babies 3-6 months

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111


None of the above features are present

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child contact your Health Visitor or call NHS 111 – dial 111

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.


You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.

Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance

Page last updated on: 30th March 2023