7 Signs Your Newborn Has Sensitive Skin

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer Larson on January 18, 2022
  • Dark hair woman smling and looking at a baby boy
    Newborn skin is sensitive skin.
    Your baby’s skin protects them from the outside world. And by virtue of being brand new, all newborn babies have sensitive skin, to some degree. In utero, they’re surrounded by moisture, but the air is much drier on the outside. Their skin hasn’t been exposed to all of the elements adults and even older children have been exposed to. Additionally, skin in babies is still developing. Structures like the sebaceous glands, which produce oil, will continue to develop over the course of many years, for example.

    Some of the most common signs of newborn sensitive skin are temporary and easily addressed, while others may require a little more vigilance. Learn about the signs of sensitive skin in newborns so you’ll know if something seems to be getting worse.
  • portrait of African American mother holding sleeping child
    1. Dry Skin
    Dry skin is one of the most common signs of sensitive skin in all people, including infants. If you’ve ever suffered from dry skin, your doctor probably advised you to steer clear of heavily scented products like soaps and shampoos or laundry detergents with dyes and other harsh chemicals. That’s good advice for newborns, too. Look for gentle products that won’t dry out or irritate your baby’s skin. You may also want to be judicious with bathing, since that can also dry their skin out.
  • grandmother embracing infant grandchild
    2. Redness
    Just as dryness is one fairly common sign of sensitive skin, redness is another. In fact, redness and dryness often go hand in hand. But other things can trigger redness or a red rash on your baby’s skin, such as wind or temperature changes, or even friction from clothing. Heat can trigger a pink or red rash on your baby’s skin, too. Start to look for things that tend to trigger the redness so you can take steps to avoid them, if you can. Some babies develop a red rash or chapped appearance around their mouths from drooling, and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent that from happening. You can, however, try to wipe up the drool frequently.
  • mother-changing-babys-diaper
    3. Diaper Rash
    Red patches or bumpy areas can appear almost anywhere, but you may notice them in the diaper area. Yes, this particular skin irritation is diaper rash, and it’s very common in young infants. Urine and feces can irritate their sensitive skin, so don’t let your baby wear a soiled diaper for too long.
  • closeup of baby's face with acne
    4. Baby Acne
    Those little red bumps on your brand-new baby’s face may look like pimples…because they are pimples. Experts refer to this pimply rash as baby acne. The bumps can actually be red or white, and they can spread out over your baby’s cheeks, forehead and nose. Like many other conditions, it will typically clear up on its own, if you can just wait it out. 
  • baby with eczema (atopic dermatitis) on face around mouth
    5. Eczema
    Many babies develop a skin condition called eczema, or atopic dermatitis. Your baby’s skin might look red and weepy, or it might exhibit a painful-looking raised rash. In very young babies, eczema tends to appear on the scalp and face. If the eczema persists as your baby gets older, it may spread to areas like the elbows or knees. Dry skin, sweating, and harsh irritants can all trigger an eczema flare-up. So can drooling. You may want to carefully monitor your baby to see what tends to make the eczema worse so you can hopefully ward off an exacerbation.
  • closeup of baby's face with milia on nose
    6. Tiny White Bumps
    If you’ve spotted some tiny white bumps on your newborn’s face, especially their nose or cheeks, you’ve spotted a condition called milia. The bumps are smaller than pimples, and your baby may have a whole lot of them scattered equally on both sides of the face. The milia are pores in the skin that have gotten blocked, but there’s nothing you can really do about them. They typically clear up within a month or two.
  • Baby rash caused by fever, insect bite, skin allergy or heat reaction
    7. Papular Urticaria
    The words may sound unfamiliar to you, but you may recognize the effect. Papular urticaria is the name given to the red itchy bumps that develop in reaction to an insect bite. Your baby may develop one or several itchy bumps or even fluid-filled blisters in reaction, and they may even develop several series’ of bumps. Babies aren’t the only ones who are vulnerable to this condition; young children may experience it, too, before they eventually outgrow it.
Baby Sensitive Skin | Newborn Sensitive Skin
  1. Cradle Cap. Healthychildren.org. American Academy of
    Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Cradle-Cap.aspx
  2. Heat Rash. Healthychildren.org. American Academy of
    Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Heat-Rash.aspx
  3. Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks. Seattle Children’s Hospital.
  4. Newborn Skin 101. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/newborn-skin-101
  5. Rudy SJ. Skin Care for Infants and Young Children: Using New
    Evidence to Address Common Myths. Medscape. https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/743532
  6. Skin care for your baby. Paediatrics Child Health. 2007 Mar;
    12(3): 245–247. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528704/
  7. Understanding Your Child’s Eczema. National Eczema
    Association. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/children/
  8. What is papular urticaria?
    The Society for Pediatric Dermatology.
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Last Review Date: 2022 Jan 18
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.