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Transient vascular changes on newborn skin

A newborn baby’s delicate skin is prone to a wide array of conditions. Some of these are due to heredity, such as birth marks, but some rashes are due to the mother’s hormones still circulating throughout the baby’s blood stream. While some of these skin lesions are normal, some may be an indicator of underlying problems and the most common newborn skin lesions are:

Acrocyanosis (Blue hands and feet)

  • A purplish blue discolouration of hands and feet which is normal in newborn babies.
  • This is most noticeable when the baby is cold or during crying.
  • This is due to the baby’s immature system in adjusting to cold exposure and is normal. Baby should be active and feeding well.
  • To exclude any other causes, do the following:
    • Check the body temperature.
    • Check the lips, tongue and gums, where the blue, the baby must be brought to a doctor immediately.

Cutis marmorata

  • A marbled or mottled look of the skin of a newborn caused by the uneven distribution of blood flow about the skin.
  • The newborn skin is unable to adjust to envioromental heat or cold. When a baby is exposed to the cold, the flow of blood in the skin becomes irregular. This is often accompanied by uneven flow of blood to the hands and feet. So it is not uncommon for newborn babies to have a bluish colouration to these parts of the extremities (acrocyanosis).
  • This is normal and generally resolves after 2-3 weeks. If it does not resolve by then, please see a doctor to check for genetic disorders.
Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Irene Cheah Guat Sim
  : Dr. Terrence Thomas
  : Dr. Umathevi Paramasivam
Reviewer : Dr. Sabeera Begum bt. Kader Ibrahim