Erythema toxicum is a common harmless rash that appears in at least half of all infants who are carried to term.
The condition is also sometimes called erythema toxicum neonatorum (ETN) or toxic erythema of the newborn. The rash usually appears within 1 to 2 days after birth, and often goes away on its own within about a week.
No one knows the cause of ETN — no bacteria or viruses are found in the rash area. Even the pus-like fluid that is sometimes found in the rash contains only harmless blood cells. It is not contagious, does not require any medical treatment, and goes away on its own.
Erythema toxicum is a rash that consists of tiny bumps that are firm, yellowish or white, and surrounded by a ring of redness. Sometimes these bumps are filled with a fluid that looks like (but isn't) pus. Sometimes there are no bumps at all — only a splotchy redness.
The rash usually appears on the baby's face, chest, arms, and legs. It may be concentrated on only one area of the body or it may cover much of the child's skin, although it usually does not affect the palms or soles of the feet.
ETN is not associated with any other health problems, and a child with the rash feels completely well. Again, because it is harmless, ETN doesn't require medical treatment. Follow your doctor's guidelines for your baby's normal skin care.
Reviewed by: Jennifer A. Tioseco, MD
Date reviewed: August 2012
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Dermatology Provides up-to-date information on the treatment and management of disorders of the skin, hair, and nails.|
|Fifth Disease Especially common in kids between the ages of 5 and 15, fifth disease is a viral illness that produces a distinctive red rash on the face, body, arms, and legs.|
|Erythema Multiforme By the looks of the "bulls-eye" marks this rash leaves on the skin, you might think it's cause for concern. But erythema multiforme clears up on its own within a few weeks.|
|Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP) Most kids who develop this inflammation of the blood vessels (marked by a raised red and purple rash) make a full recovery and have no long-term problems.|
|The First Day of Life Your baby's first day of life is one of the most eventful days in your own life. Here's what to expect on that special day.|
|Cytomegalovirus (CMV) This virus poses few risks to healthy kids, but can cause serious health problems in unborn babies and kids with a weak immune system.|
|Scarlet Fever Scarlet fever is an illness with a characteristic rash that is caused by a strep infection. Learn important facts about scarlet fever in this article for parents, including how to recognize its symptoms.|
|Hives (Urticaria) Has your child broken out in welts? It could be a case of the hives. Learn how to soothe itchy bumps and help your child feel better.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.