Red and irritated skin, small-scale rashes or even blackheads are likely temporary conditions in your toddler. Breastfeeding toddlers may develop skin reactions to foods or medications which the mother has consumed. Toddlers may also have reactions to hormones transferred through cow's milk; soap or other cleansers; or foods, via their new forays into solids. In general, there are several avenues to research before calling the doctor.
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Right up until birth, your baby has been exposed to hormones in your (fluctuating) blood stream, via the placenta. The influx can lead to the development of acne, weeks after birth. As your baby becomes a toddler, he may also be exposed to more hormones, via cow's milk. Modern farms milk cows throughout their pregnancies and year-round, creating milk that carries their hormones. A 2008 study in the "Journal of American Academy of Dermatology" determined a link between the cow milk intake and acne.
Nursing and Food Allergies
If you are nursing, you may need to consider both your diet and lifestyle habits, along with those of your toddler. Mothers who eat a diet heavy in saturated fat (in particular) or known food allergy triggers, such as chocolate, eggs, peanuts, chocolate or citrus, may unknowingly pass on these irritants. Toddlers may also develop skin conditions due to exposure to chemicals via birth control pills, antidepressants or medications containing steroids (among others). Mothers aware of a family history of food allergies should be cautious in introducing trigger foods. In general, when making dietary changes or introducing new feeds, give yourself a few days to observe the results.
Use warm water to wash your toddler's skin gently and blot it dry lightly. Use mild, preferably unscented soaps intended for their age group; you may even use the body soap you use in the bath. Refrain from applying from lotions or makeup to blemished or inflamed areas. Consult with your health care provider for guidance on which products are indicated.
Toddlers working on teeth may have an increase in drool which spills onto their sheets, clothes and faces. The excess moisture may lead to redness and the emergence of red rashes around the mouth and cheeks. During particularly "damp" times, you may want to carry a dry towel to blot your toddler's skin from time to time--or use a small amount of petroleum jelly or lanolin (a gentle, water-resistant cream) around the mouth, at night.
Toddlers can develop skin irritations through exposure to an array of everyday products, including toothpastes, shampoos, perfumes, air fresheners and laundry detergents. Think of the sheets on which your toddler sleeps, or the towels she uses to wipe her face. In general, steer toward products free of dye and fragrance. You may also need to consider replacing your toddler's mattress.
Skin irritations that are bleeding and/or infected should immediately be referred to a health care provider. If your toddler's acne persists for several months after intervention (changing products and foods), you should also consult your health care provider. However, most cases of toddler acne resolve on their own, through a combination of gentle cleansing and lifestyle/product changes.