Millions of Americans have skin conditions and babies can have skin blemishes and rashes similar to those found in older children or adults. Rosacea, a skin condition that causes redness and flushing, is unusual in infants. Though it is possible for an infant to have rosacea, symptoms that appear to be rosacea may be signs of another skin condition.
Rosacea symptoms present differently in different babies, but the disease is characterized by redness in the face, typically on the cheeks, nose or forehead. It may appear to cause acne in your baby, though the red bumps and pustules—and accompanying redness and swelling—are not actually acne. Rosacea can cause burning, stinging and itching in the face, and rosacea can also leave prominent blood vessels. Babies may be fussy because of the discomfort from the symptoms. Rosacea is more common in individuals of Irish or English descent. Since rosacea often runs in families, children may be more likely to develop signs of rosacea if their parents suffer from the disease.
Rosacea’s exact cause is unknown, but there are several theories about what may cause the condition. Facial blood vessels may dilate too easily in babies suffering from rosacea, resulting in increased blood near the skin’s surface that causes a red, flushed appearance. The acne-like bumps on your baby's face may be caused by factors such as skin bacteria, microscopic skin mites, sun damage and an abnormal immune response. Increased blood flow to the face may worsen these symptoms. Rosacea is not contagious.
Parents should check with their infant's doctor before attempting any kind of treatment, particularly since rosacea shares symptoms with other types of skin conditions. Remedies for the disease may include avoiding your baby's rosacea triggers like sun exposure, spicy foods and irritating skin products like certain lotions or soap. Antibiotics may be effective to treat rosacea in infants, not because the disease is contagious but because they have an anti-inflammatory effect. Topical treatments can help alleviate the discomfort some sufferers experience. However, since symptoms vary between infants, physicians must tailor the treatments to each patient’s needs.
Other Skin Diseases
Since rosacea is uncommon in children, a child with skin irritation or redness likely suffers from some other skin disease. Common skin conditions in infants include rashes, baby acne or eczema. Eczema has a red appearance with dry patches that can become thickened or may ooze. Since eczema can be itchy, infants may become fussy and may try to scratch the patches. Baby acne or tiny white spots called milia may appear in the first few weeks of an infant’s life and typically go away within a few weeks. Babies can also get harmless rashes, such as heat rash, that may cause a blotchy appearance or discomfort. Though many skin conditions clear up without treatment, parents should consult a doctor if they have concerns or if they notice additional symptoms.