Common rashes in neonates

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Background Neonatal skin is structurally unique. Dermatological diseases in neonates are commonly benign and self limiting, but they may also herald underlying systemic disease and can be life threatening. Objective This article examines neonatal dermatoses according to various clinical presentations. Clinical clues helping to differentiate serious and benign conditions are outlined, together with an approach to the initial management of common disease presentations. Discussion Functionally, neonatal skin is predisposed to greater heat and fluid loss as well as drug and toxin absorption. Structurally, its immaturity often results in understated, atypical and ambiguous skin symptoms and signs. Common morphologies of neonatal skin diseases include pustules; vesicles and bullae; dry, red, scaly skin; and, less commonly, ecchymoses and crusts. Although many common dermatoses are transient reactions to hormonal and environmental factors such as heat and trauma, infection by bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause both morbidity and mortality. Neoplastic, genetic, metabolic and nutritional diseases are less common but important to diagnose. Clinical and laboratory findings can be limited and clinicopathological correlation is critical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Dermatology
  • Exanthema
  • Neonate
  • Skin disease

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