You wake up in the morning and your baby’s cheeks are all rosy. Both or one of the cheeks is red. What happened? What could have caused this? Babies have red cheeks all the time and depending on your perspective, you may refer to them as either puffy cheeks, rosy cheeks slapped cheeks or red cheeks.
The baby’s face changes color at one point or the other as they grow up but a sudden change in color can be alarming. Red baby cheeks can either be normal or abnormal depending on what caused the redness.
Knowing what causes the redness will give you relief. Here are some of the causes of red cheeks and how to treat or relieve them.
Yes, a slap or pinch on a baby’s cheek will make it turn red. This means that if you left the kid with a caregiver, you should find out from them whether they abused the kid. Do not make any hasty conclusions before you’ve got enough evidence but if it keeps happening, then maybe you need to investigate. A baby who can speak out will tell you right away if you have a good relationship with them but a smaller baby who cannot speak may not.
You can change the caregiver or make sure you do not punish your baby too hard.
Sunburn and treatment
When the weather gets too hot, even adults skin gets red due to a sunburn. If you expose your child to too much sun, they will get red face and cheeks. Sun exposure is good because it provides Vitamin D but too much is not recommended. Make sure that the baby is not under direct sunlight between the hours of 11 am to 3 pm for more than 30 minutes. To make sure they enjoy vitamin D benefits, expose the child to sunlight between the hours of 7 am to 8 am in the morning.
The baby has sensitive skin and over-exposing them will lead to sunburns. Their skin is not also ready for sunscreen, especially if they are too young.
If the baby gets sunburnt and their cheeks turn red, apply a cold compress on their cheeks using a damp cloth. You can also apply aloe Vera gel to ease the pain.
Your baby’s red cheeks could be due to teething. During baby teething, her or his cheeks appear flushed and rosy or pink. The baby’s gums are irritated and swollen as the tooth tries to pop out. This irritation leads to red cheeks. Other symptoms your baby will experience when teething include excessive drooling, chewing objects or fingers, irritability and trouble feeding.
Help your child soothe their sore gums by rubbing them with a damp clean cloth or your finger (make sure it’s clean). You can also apply teething gels or give chilled fruits like strawberries and bananas for them to chew on. Wipe off the drool too since too much of it will irritate the skin further and make the cheeks red.
Be careful not to make your kid get Popsicle Panniculitis as you try to make it easier for them to teeth. Popsicle panniculitis happens when a child’s bottom layer of skin gets exposed to cold and gets inflamed. With popsicle panniculitis, the bottom layer of the skin at the cheeks gets inflamed due to overexposure to cold. The subcutaneous tissue found at the bottom layer of our skin has connective tissue, blood vessels, sweat glands and fat cells. When these tissues become inflamed, the child gets panniculitis.
Exposure to cold is one of the reasons one can get panniculitis. Popsicle panniculitis affects infants. The condition appears after 6 to 72 hours of sucking on an ice cube or popsicle. Popsicle panniculitis causes the cheeks to swell and become red just near the mouth corners.
To treat this, remove the source of cold and make sure you limit cold exposure to the child. The condition is harmless and will clear on its own in some weeks. To avoid recurrence, limit your child’s cold exposure.
Allergies can cause atopic dermatitis. This results in red or pinkish cheeks that then bursts into a rash. This rash then becomes dry, scaly and itchy. Allergies are one of the common cause of baby skin rashes.
Atopic dermatitis usually begins during the first six months after birth. It’s a form of eczema that can disappear as the child grows or get severe and long-lasting. According to researchers, it’s caused by a combination of genetics and some other substances that can either be inside or outside the body. They trigger the immune system causing an overreaction that causes inflammation. This inflammation makes the skin red, itchy and scaly.
People with eczema, according to research, also have the gene mutation that creates filaggrin, a protein that aids the body in keeping a protective, healthy barrier on the skin’s top layer. If there isn’t enough filaggrin, moisture escapes the skin because the skin’s barrier is not strong. This allows for bacteria and other viruses to enter the skin. This is why people with atopic dermatitis are prone to infections and have dry skin.
You can control your child’s atopic dermatitis by:
- Knowing their triggers
- Regularly bathing and moisturizing baby skin
- Using prescription medication as directed by the doctor
- Watching out for infections like pain, redness, bumps with or without pus or heat on the skin.
Treating Atopic Dermatitis
- Depending on how severe it is, topical medications can be used by applying directly to the skin.
- Phototherapy (light treatment) can be used if severe.
- Immunosuppressant drugs and biologic drugs can also be used. The first one curbs the immune system while the latter targets specific parts of the immune system.
Fifth disease/slapped cheek disease
This disease is known as parvovirus B19, slapped cheek or erythema infectiosum. It’s a viral illness that may sound scary but it’s a mild disease that kids have no problem recovering from. It often affects school going children and preschoolers, especially in spring. The numbering, fifth, is because it’s among the red rash childhood diseases which include chicken pox, scarlet fever, rubella, measles, and roseola. Fifth is the only one that gets identified by the number.
Its symptoms appear a week before the rash on the baby’s cheeks. The child will have:
- A high fever that looks like the onset of a cold.
- A stuffy nose
- An upset stomach
- A sore throat
- A headache and fatigue.
- Red eyes
- Swollen glands.
When the rash finally shows up, the child’s cheeks will look like they’ve been slapped. A red rash may also appear on the arms, thighs, hands, feet, buttocks or trunks. The rash may be itchy while sometimes the child will just be fine.
It’s hard to protect your child from the disease since it’s viral and no vaccine is offered for it.
Treating the fifth disease or slapped cheek
Handle it like you handle a cold. Offer the child plenty of fluids and rest and it will run its course. You should visit a doctor though to confirm whether it really is the fifth disease. Give the child ibuprofen for the fever and comfort during the first symptom. Do not give aspirin.