Skin blemishes and bruises

Most babies are born with some blotchiness, bruising and skin blemishes.

A rounded swelling of the scalp (caput succedaneum) is usually seen on the top and back of the baby's head when a baby is born the usual way — headfirst. Caput succedaneum is simply puffiness of the skin that disappears within a day or so.

Pressure from your pelvis during labor can cause a bruise (cephalo-hematoma) on your baby's head. A cephalhematoma will be noticeable for several weeks, and you might feel a bump that persists for several months. You may also see scrapes or bruises on your baby's face and head if forceps were used during delivery. In most cases, these blemishes will go away within two weeks.

Other skin conditions common in newborns include:

• Milia. Most babies have milia, which look like tiny white pimples on the nose and chin. Although they appear to be raised, they are nearly flat and smooth to the touch. Milia disappear in time, and they don't require treatment.

• Salmon patches. These red patches may be found over the nape of the neck, between the eyebrows or on the eyelids. Also called stork bites or angel kisses, they usually disappear over the first few months. The medical term that's commonly used to describe a salmon patch is nevus flammeus.

• Erythema toxicum. It sounds scary, but erythema toxicum is simply the medical term for a skin condition that typically is present at birth or appears within the first few days afterward. It's characterized by small white or yellowish bumps surrounded by pink or reddish skin. This condition causes no discomfort, and it's not infectious. Erythema toxicum disappears in a few days.

• Newborn acne. Newborn (infantile) acne, which is also called miliaria, has nothing to do with acne in the mother. And this condition doesn't necessarily mean that a baby will have acne later in life. The red bumps and blotches similar to acne are seen on the face, neck, upper chest and back. This condition is most noticeable at a month or two and typically disappears without treatment within another month or two.

• Mongolian spots. Also known as the blue-gray macule of infancy, these large, flat areas containing extra pigment appear gray or blue on the lower back or buttocks. They're especially common in black, American Indian and Asian infants and in babies with dark complexions. Sometimes mistaken for bruises, Mongolian spots don't change color or fade like a bruise would. They generally go away in later childhood.

• Pustular melanosis. These small spots look like small white sesame seeds that quickly dry and peel off. They sometimes look similar to skin infections (pustules), but pustular melanosis isn't an infection, isn't red and disappears without treatment. These spots are most commonly seen in the folds of the neck and on the shoulders and upper chest. They're more common in dark-complected babies.

• Strawberry hemangiomas. Caused by overgrowth of blood vessels in the top layers of skin, strawberry (capillary) hemangiomas are red, raised spots that may resemble a strawberry. Usually not present at birth, a hemangioma begins as a small, pale spot that becomes red in the center. A strawberry hemangioma enlarges during the baby's first few months and eventually disappears without treatment.

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