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Erythema Toxicum

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Toxic erythema



  • A harmless rash of newborns that occurs in the first 2 or 3 days of a full-term baby's life, and in the first 2 weeks if the baby is premature (i.e., born earlier than the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • The rash consists of white or yellow raised dots, usually surrounded by blotchy redness.

  • Tiny white or yellow raised dots, approximately one millimeter across at the widest point, about the size of a small pinhead
  • The dots are surrounded by blotchy red areas of red rash with an indistinct border.  If one presses on the redness, it blanches while pressure is applied.  There is no indication that the rash causes fever, itching, or other symptoms.
  • The rash may occur within hours of birth and may disappear within days.  It is common on the face, back, chest, and abdomen.  It does not appear on the palms or soles.

  • Unknown, but since the rash is basically Hives, it might have the same causes that are attributed to Hives, such as stress, allergy, etc.

  • The condition is almost always diagnosed by its characteristic white or yellow raised dots surrounded by a blotchy red rash.  If the baby does not appear ill, usually nothing more is done to finalize the diagnosis.
  • If a scraping were done of the raised dots, one can prove that special white blood cells (eosinophils) are in the scraping.  Eosinophils appear in many allergic conditions.
  • The physician can spread the scraped material onto a microscopic slide and stain the material so it will show up under a microscope.  This will reveal numerous red-colored eosinophils.

  • Approximately half of the total number of full-term babies will have the rash.
  • Premature babies have much less risk of the rash, and develop it later than 2 or 3 days of age.

  • No treatment is needed.

  • None

  • Show the rash to your physician, since infectious rashes (which are similar) need treatment.  If the rash is indeed erythema toxicum, no treatment is needed.

  • Other rashes in newborns appear slightly similar.
  • Milia is a rash characterized by numerous pinhead-size, raised, white dots on the face, especially on the nose.  The white dots are skin debris and need no treatment.
  • Miliaria (prickly heat) is white dots sometimes surrounded by small discrete areas of redness, in hot weather, and is sweat gland material.
  • Superficial yeast infection on the skin often has clusters of raised dots grouped together, as does bacterial infection on the skin, caused by Staphylococcus (staph infection).  If the physician scrapes the white or yellow dots and stains these, the yeast, or staph bacteria, can be seen under the microscope.




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