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When you see your baby with rosy cheeks, you might worry something is wrong. While it's true that red cheeks in a baby can sometimes be a sign of a medical problem, in most cases, it’s not a health emergency.

To help you sort out the cause of your baby's red cheeks, here's a look at some of the most common possibilities. You'll also find treatment options and tips to help you prevent this problem in the future.

Table Of Contents

Potential Causes And Treatment Options For Red Cheeks In A Baby

 red cheeks baby

Exertion

Have your cheeks ever gotten red while you're exercising? It's a typical response to physical activity.

Babies can experience this same thing, especially if the room is warm.

If your baby's cheeks are red after breastfeeding or while playing, they're probably starting to work up a sweat. It could also be that they’re trying a new skill (such as crawling) and pouring a lot of energy into their movements.

What To Do

To treat this redness, give your baby a break from the activity to help them cool down. Also, if they're wearing extra layers of clothing, consider removing one.

The good news is red cheeks caused by exertion typically go away on their own.

Teething

When babies are cutting their teeth, they often drool more than usual. This drool can irritate their sensitive skin and cause a rash around their mouth, chin, and cheeks.

This rash is red and bumpy and might be accompanied by other teething symptoms, like fussiness, chewing on things, and a low-grade fever.

What To Do

To help clear up your baby’s teething-induced drool rash, you'll want to keep their face as dry as possible.

Use our Cleansing Wipes to quickly clean up any drool or spit-up you notice. The gentle formula helps moisturize your baby's skin, protecting it from irritation.

You’ll also want to use a gentle cleanser when washing your baby’s face. Our Soothing Cleansing Gel is a great option. The fragrance-free, EWG Verified formula is designed for babies with sensitive, rash-prone skin.

Eczema

Baby holding Mustela cream for red cheeks baby

Eczema is a common skin condition in babies. While you can find these patches of red, itchy, dry skin anywhere on their body, they’re often on a baby’s cheeks, elbows, and knees.

Other symptoms of eczema include scaling, crusting, and oozing skin. Your baby might also have trouble sleeping because the itchiness is so bothersome.

What To Do

If your baby has eczema, you can try home treatment options to help soothe their eczema-prone skin. A great place to start is with our NEA Certified Eczema Bath Time Set.

In the set, you'll get:

The emollient cream helps lock in moisture and create a barrier to protect your baby's skin from further irritation. Applying it after cleansing and bathing will help hydrate skin and prevent future eczema flare-ups.

Note: Babies with eczema typically outgrow it, so you might notice it improving on its own over time.

Dry Skin

Dry skin can be another common cause of red cheeks in a baby. This is especially true in the winter when the air is drier and colder. Spending too much time in the bath can also cause your baby's skin to dry out.

In addition to red cheeks, you might notice your baby's skin feels dry to the touch instead of smooth and supple. It might also be visibly flaky or cracked.

What To Do

A humidifier can help add moisture to the air and prevent your baby's skin from getting too dry. Look for one specifically designed for babies. You’ll want it to have a filter to remove any harmful toxins from the air.

You'll also want to apply a safe, gentle moisturizer to their skin to help lock in moisture. For example, our Nourishing Cream with Cold Cream prevents water from evaporating, helping your baby's skin stay soft.

Fifth Disease

Fifth disease is a virus that typically causes a bright red rash on the cheeks. It gets its name because it's the fifth most common childhood infection.

The rash usually starts as two red spots on each cheek and then spreads to the rest of the body within a few days. It eventually turns into a lacy, red rash that can last several weeks.

Other symptoms of fifth disease include fever, runny nose, and headache. It can also cause joint pain in older children and adults.

What To Do

If your child has fifth disease, they'll usually recover on their own within a few weeks without medical intervention. However, you can help soothe their symptoms with over-the-counter medication.

Acetaminophen can relieve their fever and pain. And you can also use a cool compress to help reduce the swelling and itchiness associated with the rash.

An Allergy

Young child wrapped in a towel after a bath

Allergies can also cause red cheeks in a baby. This condition is usually due to an allergic reaction to something they've come into contact with, such as pollen, pet dander, or certain types of food.

In addition to the red cheeks, you might also notice watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. In some cases, the rash can spread to other body parts, too.

What To Do

If your baby has a severe allergic reaction, it requires immediate medical attention.

However, even if their symptoms are mild, it’s still something you’ll want to mention to their health care provider at your next visit. That way, they can help you learn what is causing the allergy and get a treatment plan established.

To prevent future reactions, you’ll want to avoid allergy triggers. This might mean keeping your baby away from pets or certain types of food.

Since their skin is so sensitive, you may also need to change your cleaning, washing, and laundry products. Switching to gentle, eco-friendly products free of harsh chemicals can help reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

Contact Irritation

Another common cause of red patches on your baby's face is contact irritation. It happens when their skin comes into contact with something irritating, such as a new laundry detergent, lotion, or soap.

Red patches can also occur if your child rubs their face on something rough, such as the carpet, a man’s beard, or the side of their car seat. Someone giving their cute cheeks a little pinch can also cause red spots to appear temporarily.

What To Do

Red spots from your child rubbing their cheek on something often disappear within a few minutes. However, if the irritation persists or worsens, you'll need to look closely at what's causing it.

If you recently changed laundry detergents, lotions, or soaps, try switching back to the old products to see if that helps. You should also ensure your little one's clothing is gentle and free from harsh chemicals.

When To See A Doctor

Nurse at a doctors office

Most of the time, red cheeks in a baby are nothing to worry about, and the redness goes away on its own or with simple at-home treatment. However, there are a few cases where you should call your doctor.

Call your doctor right away if:

  • Your baby has red cheeks and a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The red spots are spreading quickly or appear to be getting worse
  • Your child is acting unusually tired or fussy
  • Diarrhea or vomiting accompanies the red cheeks

If you're unsure what's causing your child's rash, it's always best to err on the side of caution and call your doctor. They can help you determine the cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

How To Prevent Red Cheeks In Your Baby

The good news is that you can do a few things to help prevent red cheeks in your baby.

For example, to avoid viral infections, such as fifth disease, wash your little one's hands regularly. They should also avoid sharing cups or utensils with anyone who is sick.

In addition, keep your baby away from anything you know irritates their skin. Instead, select gentle products from a company you trust, such as Mustela, that don't contain harsh ingredients.

Caring For Your Baby’s Rosy Red Cheeks

Caring For Your Baby’s Rosy Red Cheeks

If you notice red cheeks on your baby, don't panic. Most of the time, it's a simple problem that you can take care of at home.

To help keep their skin soft and supple, choose gentle, quality products. Our Soothing Cleansing Gel and Nourishing Cream with Cold Cream can both help protect your little one's skin.

No matter what’s causing the rosiness to appear, with the right tools, you can keep your baby happy and healthy!

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