Dear Dr. Nina: 'My newborn is doing really well but her skin seems to be a problem'
I have a newborn baby at home. She is doing really well but her skin seems to be a problem. She has thick cradle cap and has spots on her face. Will this go away by itself or should I do something?
These are extremely common problems in new-born babies.
Milia appears as one to two millimetre yellowish spots on the skin, and is commonly present around the time of a baby's six-week check and is thought to occur in up to half of all new-born babies. The exact cause isn't known.
Milia occurs most commonly on a baby's forehead, nose, cheeks and chin although it can occur elsewhere as well.
The spots can resemble small pimples and in some babies pimple-like lesions do occur which is referred to as infantile acne. Most cases of milia resolve on their own.
The best way to manage this is to clean the skin daily with warm water or very gentle cleanser designed for sensitive new-born skin. If the skin becomes very inflamed your doctor may very occasionally prescribe a medicated cream.
Cradle cap is another extremely common condition in new-born babies. This involves the appearance of waxy, thick yellow scales on the scalp.
Cradle cap isn't contagious and doesn't normally cause itching. The exact cause of cradle cap isn't known. Fungus on the skin may play a role. The simplest form of treatment involves gently brushing the scales to loosen them and washing the scalp with a gentle baby shampoo.
If scales are particularly adherent, rubbing a mineral oil or petroleum jelly on the scalp, and leaving it for a few minutes before brushing the scalp and washing it, may help. In more persistent cases your doctor may advise you to use shampoo that treats fungus or yeast on the skin and may improve the scalp condition.
Both of these conditions are harmless and do not affect your baby's health.