Babies and Skin Allergies

Babys skin is extremely sensitive and requires gentle and special attention. The chances of skin allergies are high in babies. Let us learn the common skin allergies in babies and how it can be treated.

Last Updated: 23 October 2020

Babies and Skin Allergies
Babies and Skin Allergies
Skin Allergy

As baby’s skin is developing and is extremely soft and sensitive it takes time to adapt to new environment. Allergic reactions can happen due to a variety of reasons including food, diaper rash and bites. It is important to identify the allergen so that babies can be treated appropriately.

Allergic reactions occur when the body mounts an adverse response to an allergen which results in inflammation of the skin. When the immune system fights against allergen, histamine is released, this further induces a cascade of reactions resulting in eczema, hives and rashes.

Types of skin allergies in babies Drool

Drooling causes rash around the mouth and chin of babies. Sometimes this rash can be mistaken as a food allergy. Redness and tiny bumps are seen in the areas that are in contact with saliva and sometimes redness can extend down to neck and chest. Petroleum jelly can be applied around the mouth before feeding and can be cleaned and applied again after feeding the baby. These drool rashes can be uncomfortable for the baby and nothing to worry about unless you notice a crusty yellow area on the rash.

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is one of the common skin conditions seen in around 10% of children. It is common in infants (between ages 1 and 5) who have asthma, hay fever or food allergies or if any of these conditions is seen in the family members. The exact cause of this skin condition is not identified. The barrier function of skin may not function properly in children who have eczema and their skin may not hold moisture well.

Red rashes are seen on the face or head which can spread to the arms and torso. The eczema rash may consist of tiny, red bumps and the skin becomes dry, itchy and irritated. High temperatures, soaps and detergents, certain food allergens and environmental pollutants like dust and smoke can trigger eczema. Treatment for eczema includes avoiding food allergens, applying ointments and moisturizers and using prescription medications like steroid ointments.   

Allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis happens if babies develop a rash when they touch something they are sensitive to. Common symptoms include severe itching, red rash and thick leathery patches and blisters on the skin. Some of the common triggers for contact dermatitis include nickel (a metal found in some earrings, snaps, and buttons), chemicals and dyes in shoes, cosmetics and skin medicines. Treatment for contact dermatitis includes avoiding the irritant, usage of steroid cream and anti-histamines to relieve itching.


Hives are itchy raised red bumps or patches on the skin. They differ in size and shape and can lasts for few minutes to hours. Hives appear anywhere in the body, in the form of clusters. Some of the triggers include histamine released during viral infections, food products (peanuts, eggs, and seafood), antibiotics, insect bites, pet saliva or dander and viral infections. Hives are not dangerous but if your infant develops breathing difficulties and if you notice swelling in the throat or tongue, it is important to seek medical advice immediately. Anti-histamines are used to treat hives.  

Papular urticaria

This is a localized allergic reaction to a bug bite and it common in infants in the age group of 2 to 6 years. This allergic reaction lasts for a few days to a few weeks. It is seen as a small bump on the skin which can be itchy. Topical steroid creams and anti-histamines are treatment options.

Heat Rash or baby acne (also called “Miliaria”)

When the baby’s skin gets too warm, heat rashes are seen on the baby’s face, neck, underarms or bottom. The main cause is accumulation of sweat under the skin. Babies have smaller sweat glands which are still developing. Hence regulating the body temperature might be difficult for them. Heat rash appears as tiny red bumps or blisters filled with pus. It is common in hot and humid climates and there is no treatment for heat rash and be sure that you provide them with comfortable clothes.

Cradle Cap (also called “Seborrhoea”)

This is seen in babies who are less than six months old. This skin infection is seen in scalp, eyebrows, ears, neck, cheeks, and chest. This type of rash is not painful to the babies. The exact cause of cradle cap is not known, it is said it could be due to excess of sebum which is an oily substance produced by skin glands. Olive oil can be applied in the scalp to treat cradle cap and in extreme conditions topical steroid cream can be used.

Food allergens

Food allergies are due to an abnormal response to proteins present in the food. It is estimated that unto 6% of children under age two can develop food allergies. Eggs and milk can cause allergies in young children and sometimes tree nuts and sea food can cause allergies in older children. Hives, itching and vomiting are common symptoms of food allergies. It is advisable to introduce one new food at a time so that if a baby develops an allergy, it can be identified easily.

Soaps, lotions and detergents

As babies have sensitive skin, it is common that their skin react to irritating chemicals present in soaps, moisturizers, cleansers, scented lotions and laundry detergents. You can notice a red rash or skin irritation. If irritation persists, you can try changing a new lotion or soap. Before applying a lotion, try in a small area of your baby’s skin and if there are no rashes, you can continue using then new one. Always use mild detergents to wash clothes of babies.  

Prevention of Skin allergies in babies

The following precautions can be taken to avoid skin allergies in babies.


Avoid irritants present in scented lotions and detergents. Instead use hypoallergenic products.

Use hypoallergenic moisturizers which can also act as a barrier against skin infections.

Introduce one new food at a time to track food allergies.

Keep children away from insects and bugs. If you visit parks and open spaces, use proper clothing like full sleeves and pants to cover your baby.

Make sure that your baby is in a comfortable room that is neither too hot nor too cold.

Dress your baby in soft, cotton fabric all the time.

Skin allergies are common. But if you notice symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and breathing difficulties contact your paediatrician immediately. 







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