Recognizing an illness or an allergy in an infant is pretty tough for a new parent. It’s not like your little fella can tell you what hurts or makes him uncomfortable. All he can do is make sure you know something’s up with his tears and fussiness. So it’s up to you to be aware of symptoms and report them to your pediatrician. The usual suspect in allergic reactions is often a rash.
“Babies and children typically present with hives (raised red bumps) on their bodies when they have an allergic reaction,” says Ronna Schneider, M.D. of Suburban Pediatrics. “They can also present eczema (skin inflammation that can present as itchiness and dry, red skin) or with other types of rashes.”
There are plenty of different rashes and skin conditions your baby can display in his first few months of life, though. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), some of the most common are milia (white bumps on the nose, chin or cheeks); baby acne (red or white bumps on the forehead or cheeks); cradle cap (crusty or scaly patches on Baby’s head); diaper rash; eczema; and roseola (a common viral infection that leaves a splotchy rash after the fever dissipates).
Although some skin conditions are common, Schneider recommends that parents have their infants evaluated by their pediatricians if they develop a rash. “Rashes can be a sign of a virus, dry skin, an allergic reaction, a vascular abnormality, a bacterial infection, a contact reaction, and many more potential illnesses,” she says. In other words, best not to take any chances with your little one.
WHAT ABOUT FOOD ALLERGY?
If you’ve ruled out soaps and diaper creams as a cause for your baby’s rash, food might be another culprit. Some of the most common foods that cause allergies are eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, and cow’s milk.
It’s not common for babies to have true lactose intolerance, according to Schneider. However, they can have what is called a milk protein allergy, according to the AAP. In a milk protein allergy, the immune system reacts to proteins in milk, while lactose intolerance means the digestive system has trouble processing milk. Typical symptoms of a milk protein allergy include rashes, upset tummy, vomiting and diarrhea. More serious symptoms can include wheezing, swelling and trouble breathing.
Whether lactose intolerant or allergic to milk protein, treatment mostly means a milk-free diet for Baby and for moms who are breastfeeding. Says Schneider, “If babies have an intolerance to a milk-based formula, it is preferable for them to try a soy-based formula or a formula that does not contain lactose. If babies are breastfeeding, the mother may need to avoid dairy in her diet in order to prevent symptoms in a baby.” So just a few changes to your diet, and your little one should be on the mend. But if symptoms continue, report them to your doctor.