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Erythema Toxicum

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
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Erythema toxicum is a common rash seen in full-term newborns. It usually appears in the first few days after birth and fades within a week.

Up to half of all newborns will have erythema toxicum (air-uh-THEE-muh TOK-sih-kum). The rash can be on the baby's face, chest, arms, and legs, but usually won't be on the palms or soles of the feet. It's a blotchy red rash with small bumps that can be filled with fluid. Although the fluid might look like pus, there is no infection.

Erythema toxicum — also called erythema toxicum neonatorum (ETN) — doesn't cause any symptoms and goes away on its own. So, no treatment is needed.

You can care for your newborn's skin normally:

  • Sponge bathe your baby with a gentle washcloth until the umbilical cord falls off, which usually takes about 1–4 weeks.
  • Do not bathe your baby in a tub until after the first week of life and after the umbilical cord has fallen off.
  • Most babies only need to be bathed 2–3 times per week.
  • Use warm water and a baby-specific liquid cleanser that is mild and unscented.

Call your doctor if:

  • The skin bumps get worse or have not gone away by the time your baby is about 2 weeks old.
  • Your baby develops a new rash.
  • Your baby isn't feeding well.
  • Your baby has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher when the temperature is taken rectally.
  • Your baby seems floppy, fussy, or very drowsy.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2022