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Erythema toxicum

Erythema toxicum is a common, noncancerous skin condition seen in newborns.

Alternative Names

Erythema toxicum neonatorum

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Erythema toxicum may appear in 50 percent or more of all normal newborn infants. It usually appears in term infants between the ages of 3 days and 2 weeks.

Its cause is unknown.

The condition may be present in the first few hours of life, generally appears after the first day, and may last for several days. Although the condition is harmless, it can be of great concern to the new parent.

Symptoms

The main symptom is a rash of small, yellow-to-white-colored papules surrounded by red skin. There may be a few or several papules. They usually appear on the face and middle of the body, but may also be seen on the upper arms and thighs.

The rash can change rapidly, appearing and disappearing in different areas over hours to days.

Signs and tests

Examination by your health care provider during a routine well-baby exam is usually sufficient to make the diagnosis. No testing is usually needed.

Treatment

The large red splotches typically disappear without any treatment or changes in skin care.

Expectations (prognosis)

The rash usually clears within 2 weeks. It is usually completely gone by age 4 months.

Calling your health care provider

Discuss the condition with your health care provider during a routine examination if you are concerned.

References

Morelli JG. Diseases of the neonate. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 639.

Updated: 8/1/2012

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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