Rashes are common in newborn babies. During the first few weeks of life, the newborn may experience various dermatological skin problems, most of which are innocent and temporary (1). A neck rash is one of them, which at times, is not noticeable as it stays hidden in the skinfolds. A neck rash is not a matter of grave concern, yet immediate care is warranted, keeping the delicate skin texture of the babies in mind.
In this post, MomJunction has compiled some basic information about baby neck rash, its causes, symptoms, and preventive steps.
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Causes Of Rashes On A Baby’s Neck
Neck rash in babies looks like little bumps on the skin. These bumps may appear red, especially in babies with light skin color. This skin condition can have different causes, such as:
- Milk trickle: Babies, while feeding, either from the bottle or from the breast, tends to spit some milk out from the sides of their mouth. This trickled milk gets collected in the skin folds of the neck. If not cleaned properly, the trapped moisture creates a damp environment that becomes a breeding ground for microbial infections (2). It also works with friction and becomes another cause for rash development.
- Drool: Drooling is a common developmental feature in babies and becomes apparent at three to six months of age (3). This drool often travels all the way down from mouth to the skin folds in the neck region. When not cleaned promptly, this deposition of moisture in the skin folds can cause a skin rash due to friction and microbial infestation.
- Prickly heat: Also known as heat rash, this skin rash commonly occurs during the summer season, affecting the neck and other regions of the body. These rashes appear as tiny red itchy skin bumps. (4). The leading cause of heat rash is persistent sweating in infants, which gets trapped in the skinfolds. Besides, the extreme dry heat of summer can irritate your baby’s tender skin. Heat rash may also develop during winters if your baby has too many layers of clothing (5).
- Friction: A baby’s neck is short and tends to have folds too. These skin folds tend to be thicker when the baby is chubby and may constantly rub against each other and cause friction. Constant friction and moisture due to sweating may lead to a neck rash. This rash keeps recurring in babies till they learn to lift their heads without any support (which may take a few months).
As the causes are different, the symptoms that accompany neck rashes in babies also differ and could be highly case-specific. Yet, there are some basic symptoms which are generic and will be noticed in most babies. Read on to know more about it.
Symptoms Of Rash On Your Baby’s Neck
The most common symptoms are itching, accompanied by pain. These symptoms may cause irritation, and the baby may lose their appetite. Although harmless, this condition becomes a matter of concern for parents. Listed next are a few remedies that might provide some relief.
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Home Remedies To Reduce Rashes On The Baby’s Neck
As mentioned earlier, most cases of skin rash in babies tend to disappear on their own within a few days. They may not require any treatment. But they can make the baby highly uncomfortable during this period, due to continuous burning and itching sensations. Here are a few things you can do to alleviate the discomfort of the baby.
- Use light and breathable fabrics: Never use stiff, uncomfortable, and heavy dress material for your baby. Always look for lightweight and breathable fabric like cotton. On a hot summer day, you can dress up your baby in a diaper and cotton top. Never wash your baby’s clothes using strong bleach and detergent. These harsh chemicals may cause skin irritation and lead to rashes.
- Apply skin creams and lotions to your baby’s rash: Remember to consult your baby’s pediatrician before you use any skin cream and lotion on your baby, especially younger than six months of age to rule out any possible allergens. For extra caution, you can also do a patch test by applying the cream on the baby’s elbow first. Wait and check for any symptoms. If no symptoms, use the cream on the affected area.
- Cornstarch: A study published in The Journal of Pediatric Dermatology suggests that cornstarch does not enhance the growth of yeasts on human skin and provides protection against frictional injury (6). So, you can try sprinkling cornstarch on your baby’s neck before taking them outdoors or after a bath. It may keep the neck region dry and moist-free. But do consult the doctor about it first.
- Oatmeal: A research study published in The Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology represented that colloidal oatmeal is a safe and effective ingredient in personal care products. It might be particularly effective to ease dry and itchy skin (7). You can try adding oats in your baby’s bath. Also, you can try oat extract to soothe your baby’s skin.
- Cold compress: You can try using a cold compress on the affected region to soothe the skin inflammation. Take a tub of ice-cold water and soak a clean washcloth. Apply this to the affected region for 5-10 minutes to soothe inflamed skin. Once done, pat the area dry. You can repeat the procedure as and when needed.
- Maintain skin hygiene: If you follow regular bathing and good hygiene practice for your baby, you may be able to prevent these skin rashes.
- Use boiled or distilled water: Remember to use boiled or distilled water to bathe your baby. This will ensure that the bathing water doesn’t contain any harmful microbes that may otherwise harm.
- Massage with coconut oil: You can also try massaging your baby with coconut oil twice a day for relief from symptoms. Due to its emollient and anti-microbial properties, coconut oil may work as a preventive skincare product for your baby (8).
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When To Call Your Baby’s Doctor?
Your baby’s neck rash may disappear on its own. However, if there is an underlying health condition associated with rash, then you may also notice the following symptoms (9):
- Areas that look wet, oozing, or red
- A rash that is worse in the skin creases
- Pus-filled or fluid-filled blisters
- significant scratching
- inconsolable crying
Also, if you notice small red dots or spots that don’t disappear when pressed, you must consult the doctor immediately. These spots may occur due to bleeding under the skin. This condition is known as petechiae and can indicate a serious infection.
Remember that you know your baby better than others. If you notice any skin rash that worries you, don’t hesitate to call a pediatrician for further consultation.
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Preventive Measures To Avoid Baby Neck Rash From Occurring
- Bathe your baby regularly and maintain a good hygiene practice.
- Select the right fabrics for your baby. Avoid rough fabrics, woolen clothes, and blankets. These are not recommended for babies as they have a sensitive skin type.
- Remember to dry the neck region (and other moisture-prone regions) after bathing your baby, and after every feed.
- Keep your baby’s neck region open and moist-free most of the time. Dry skin prevents the accumulation of moisture in the skin folds. It helps in healing the rashes faster.
- Try to keep your baby in a cool and well-aired room as excessive heat causes perspiration in the skin folds and leads to skin rashes.
- During winters, when woolens cannot be avoided, use the ones that have a wide neck. Make the baby wear a cotton shirt collars underneath the woolens so that wool does not touch the skin.
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Your baby’s skin is delicate. It is still developing and hence is vulnerable to a lot of skin conditions. Neck rash is of those concerns that, although harmless, demand prompt action. You may want to try some home remedies that might be of help, but prior pediatric consultation is always wise. Remember to stay cautious and keep a check on your baby’s overall hygiene. It would help in preventing many skin-related concerns. And those which cannot be prevented, warrant medical guidance. So do not hesitate to call a doctor whenever you see something out of normal.
Do you know any ways in which neck rash could be prevented? If yes, do write to us in the comments section below.
2. Rash under the chin and in other skin folds in babies; CYA, South Africa
3. Drooling and Your Baby; Healthy Children; American Academy Of Pediatrics (2016)
4. Heat Rash; Healthy Children; American Academy Of Pediatrics (2013)
5. Canadian Paediatric Society; Skin care for your baby; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2007)
6. Leyden JJ.; Corn starch, Candida albicans, and diaper rash.; National Center For Biotechnology Information (1984)
7. Maryline Criquet et al.; Safety and efficacy of personal care products containing colloidal oatmeal; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2012)
8. Verallo-Rowell VM et al.; Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis.; National Center For Biotechnology Information (2008)
9. Rash – child under 2 years; Medical Encyclopedia; Medline Plus; National Institute of Health; U.S National Library of Medicine
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