Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in Newborns – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in Newborns

The skin of a newborn is sensitive, and you may see many kinds of rashes that are not permanent. The neonatal period of the baby can be a phase of many such outbreaks on their sensitive skin. You need to be very careful while handling the baby during this time. Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in newborns is one such skin rash found in most full-term babies. There are no grave consequences of this skin rash, and it is commonly seen in almost 50% of newborns every year.

The name Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum is given so because the rash looks like erythema. Erythema is a visible red rash on the skin, which is self-limited. It can occur due to several reasons. ETN is associated with only newborns, and hence it is called Neonatorum. Our article briefs on this condition, its causes, symptoms and treatment options.

In This Article

What is Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum?

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum is a kind of skin rash which is most common in full-term newborns. It is a benign skin rash, self-limited, and does not lead to any other consequences. It can occur on any body part, like the abdomen, chest, face, neck, arms, and legs. This skin condition looks like a red rash with small white or yellowish bumps like papules (small bumps on the skin with distinct or indistinct borders) or fluid-filled blisters like sacs called vesicles. These rashes have the nature of disappearing from one place after a few hours to reappear in another spot.

These kinds of skin rashes are not usually found on the palm, feet, and sole of a newborn but can occur on other parts of the body. Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum is a temporary skin rash that occurs during the first week of birth and regresses within 7-15 days. This kind of skin disorder is rare in preterm babies. Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum occurs only on fully developed and matured skin of full-term babies. Though these vesicles look infectious, the condition is non-infectious and does not spread from one part to another part of the body.

What Causes Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in Newborns?

There are different theories regarding the cause of Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in newborns. One of them states that it can be due to the reaction of the meconium (stool passed by the newborn) to the skin. It is also known to happen due to the pilosebaceous unit, which is related to sebaceous glands that produce hair follicles.

This condition may be present in the places from where the hair follicles arise. It may also occurr due to the increased inflammation of the cells around hair follicles. Newborns will have a lot of hair on their bodies during their neonatal period (28 days of birth), except for feet, soles, and palms. It supports the theory, which states that Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum occurs due to the infiltrated eosinophils on the epidermis. Despite these theories, the root cause of Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum remains unknown.

Signs and Symptoms of Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in Newborns

Signs And Symptoms of Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in Newborns

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum occurs as a small yellowish-white bump on the skin, which may or may not have a proper shape. They may also look like small blisters or fluid-filled bags on your baby’s skin. These vesicles may sometimes release a fluid-like substance that looks like pus but is non-infectious. These red spots are of different sizes and shapes.

Neonatal Erythema does not trouble the baby in any manner. These rashes can appear in one place for a few hours and then disappear and reappear on the other part of the body. The small bumps may start on one spot of the body and can be seen as clusters as they spread. There is no harm with neonatal erythema, as they regress with time.

There are other skin problems like neonatal acne or baby acne and Milia which poses similar symptoms of Erythema Toxicum in newborns. You can mistake the symptoms of Erythema Toxicum to other skin rashess. It is vital to check with your doctor regarding the symptoms that your baby experiences.

[Read : Milia in Newborn Babies]

How Long Does it Take For Erythema Toxicum to Go Away?

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum is a self-limiting rash on a newborn that occurs during the first few days of birth. It looks like a red rash on the skin and can arise on any body part, except the feet, sole, and palm. The yellowish-white bumps are harmless and can spread through the skin. Neonatal Erythema regresses within 7-15 days of birth. Recurrence of Erythema toxicum is rare and does not result in any consequential diseases.

What Are the Treatment Options For Erythema Toxicum in Newborns?

doctor holding baby

Neonatal erythema may not require any particular treatment. It can regress on its own after a few days. Doctors can identify this condition by just looking at the rash. To be on the safer side and to confirm the diagnosis of any other skin diseases that mimic the same symptoms, doctors may suggest tests like the skin biopsy, and the testing of infiltrated eosinophils under the microscope.

There is no need to change any skincare routine that you follow for your baby. It is vital not to use over-the-counter medications like creams and other gels to treat neonatal erythema. Unsupervised treatment may lead to other infections and skin problems for the baby.

When to See the Doctor?

Although Neonatal Erythema is harmless and does not require any treatment, it is vital to contact your general physician if you are concerned about your baby’s behavior like:

  • If your baby is fussy and does not urinate for a long time.
  • The rash keeps spreading and annoying the baby.
  • If the baby has a fever that does not come down.

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum in newborns is a harmless skin rash, does not have any grave consequences, and is non-infectious. It is important not to treat them on your own. Contact your general physician if you feel concerned about your baby’s condition. Touching them and breaking them is strictly not suggestible as this may lead the skin to contract other infections. Maintain a good skincare routine for your baby, and do not change it unless the doctors suggest you do so.

[Read : Top 10 Baby Skincare Tips]


1. What Does Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum Look Like?

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum looks like a red rash on the skin of a newborn. It arises like small yellowish-white papules or vesicles. Neonatal Erythema can spread from one part to another part of the body. It usually occurs on the face, trunk, and legs.

2. Is Erythema Toxicum the Same as Baby Acne?

No, baby acne or neonatal acne is different from Erythema Toxicum. The symptoms may look the same, but the condition differs.

Read Also: Cradle Cap In Babies

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.