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The skin colour of the new born

Is it normal that the babies’ skin changes?

The colour of the skin is a characteristic that stands out a lot to the parents. It surprises that when they are born have a different skin tone of the one they will have later and that in certain positions or when crying it changes to a more intense colour. As time passes this variations decrease until the skin tone stabilizes.

When we first see the baby after birth, his or her colour surprises us, in some cases is a purplish red colour with a whitish substance beyond it (this is the vernix cases, a sebum coating that has protected his or her body during the pregnancy and that is self-absorbed 2 or 3 days after the birth)

The purplish colour is due to the effort mad to go through the birth canal but disappears in the following hours until it becomes a much more pink tone.

In some cases the baby can have some areas of he body in a purplish colour, such us the feet and the hands due to the blood circulation is still unstable, bu this colour should be corrected before his or her first 24 hours of life. If the purplish tone remains, it should be told to the doctor or neonatologist.

The babies born by Caesarean section are an exception and come to the world with a wonderful colour, nicer, more natural and rosy, not purplish at all because they have saved themselves the effort of the birth.

Once we are at home the baby can suffer other skin tone variations.

  • They can present a yellowish skin tone. This can happen between the second and seventh day of life. It is due to jaundice which is the accumulation of a yellow pigment (bilirubin) in the blood. To solve it you just need to expose the baby to the sunlight for 10 minutes a day. If the baby doesn’t get better, go to the paediatrician.
  • In some occasions we can see that the nails and lips of the baby are a little bit purplish. Facing a temperature drop, the body maintains warm the vital organs and as a detriment of the “dispensable” parts that get that skin tone. We need to avoid to expose the baby to the cold or direct air currents.
  • If the kid cries or makes efforts when coughing or going poop he or she will become red-coloured (it is not important) and this will also happen when the baby stays in the same position for a long time. To avoid this, change his or her position once in a while.
  • Extreme greyish paleness. This is the most alarming tone because usually means an infection. If your kid presents this colour go to the emergency department immediately.

Apart from the colour another surprising peculiarity of the skin of a new born is that is so thin and has so little fat that allows you to see his or her veins and capillarity through it.

This characteristic is very distinct in the premature babies that have an almost transparent skin. While the baby gains weigh the skin gets thicker and the veins stop being visible at first sight.

Therefore we should look after the skin tone and colour of our babies to contribute to their better development.


Dra. Montserrat Pérez  – Dermatóloga (Nº col 10630)

Clínica Dermatológica de Moragas - Carelia Petits