Baby Rashes (When is it a milk allergy?)


Posted 12.11.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

I often speak with parents of milk allergic babies and I hear a lot about rashes that appear on the baby’s face and body. It is heartbreaking to hear how much they itch and scratch uncontrollably. And for many parents it is hard to determine if their child has just a typical baby rash or if it is a symptom of something more serious – like a rash caused by an allergic reaction to cow’s milk. Baby Rash

Atopic Dermatitis or eczema are two types of rashes that are commonly caused by a milk allergy. But without a diagnosis from the doctor of a cow’s milk allergy, how would a parent know that this is the cause?

You should always refer to your pediatrician to help you understand what is causing your little one’s eczema, but it’s also important to look at the big picture. Sometimes a baby with cow’s milk allergies, will also display other symptoms in addition to a rash. For instance, you may also see symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, gassiness, wheezing, runny nose, and colic.

If you do see a rash accompanied by any of these other symptoms, make sure to keep detailed notes and share all symptoms with your doctor so that your little one can get diagnosed and treated faster.

Also, make sure to work with your pediatrician to come up with a plan for healing your baby’s skin – no matter what is triggering the rash, it is important to heal your baby’s skin as soon as possible. Some recommendations the doctor might suggest include:

  • Bathing your baby in soothing lukewarm water
  • Avoiding bath oils and perfumed powders
  • Applying an over-the-counter lubricant to your baby’s skin
  • Keeping your baby’s fingernails filed short so the scratching won’t do as much damage
  • Dressing your baby in soft cotton fabrics to prevent possible fabric irritation
  • Keeping your baby cool and avoiding hot, humid environments
  • Trying to keep your baby distracted from the itchiness with fun activities

Did your little one have a rash due to a milk protein allergy? Tell us about your experience and what you did to treat it.

-Christine

Read Comments (38)

  • 2011-06-04 | ksulaman

    My baby have a rashes on her nick and its get on her face. Its not red but its getting worst. Her doctor said that it can be her milk which is enfamil infant premium. She is taking this milk about 5 months but never had this problem. Her doctor said i should switch her formula. I don’t know what to do.

  • 2011-08-08 | omayravelez

    my son had gained a rash all over his body completely at 2 weeks old and his doctor continously explained how it was eczema and it would go away within time. he has seen a dermatologist who gave him mutiple creams and none of them worked then they had changed his milk to nutramigen and still no change. he is now nine months and he has seen an allergist bc the strongest cream trimcinanolone you can give a baby hasnt worked he came out with a cows milk allergy and is now drinking soy milk. the allergist has suggested soy milk and if that didnt work try neocate but so far hes been doing a better job with the soy smile

  • 2011-08-10 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Thanks for the comments. Rashes can be hard to figure out what is causing them. Keep in mind that soy milk is not considered hypoallergenic, but I am happy to hear your little on is doing better. As always, just give us a call if you have any questions about Neocate at 1-800-NEOCATE.

  • 2012-02-17 | Liz L

    I have twin girls who were told they had baby acne when they were 3 weeks old. At 3 months they were told it was ezcema and prescribed a .1 steroid cream. The rash went away for 3 days and then it came back worse than before. We then went to an allergist who diagnosed the girls with a milk allergy and atopic dermatitius. They were put on neonate. It’s been 7 days and the rash is still there. How long does it take a milk rash to go away?

  • 2012-02-21 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Liz, 
    Ezcema, as a result of a food allergy, can take a bit longer to heal than, for example, a GI related reaction to food. Based on clinical research, ezcema usually takes about 2 weeks to calm down once the child starts Neocate. Keep in mind all babies are different and some may take a bit longer than others. Have you noticed any new rashes developing? As usual, be sure to discuss with your doctor. Give it about 1 more week and if the rash persists; first, speak to your doctor, then feel free to give us a call at 1-800-NEOCATE so we can further discuss with you.
    Kindest wishes Liz!
    Christine

  • 2012-03-19 | Karen

    My son has what appears to be dry skin over his forehead, arms and legs.  It is not real red just dry.  He does not look like the pictures of the children on your website.  My PCP has stated he thinks it is related to an allergy.  How do you determine if an allergy or just dry skin?

  • 2012-03-21 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Dear Karen,
    Figuring out if it is a food allergy is not always black and white. Is the rash itchy for your son? Has the doctor prescribed any creams for the dry skin? Did they help? If not, food allergies may be the cause. Another sure way to know if food allergies are at play is if you switch to a hypoallergenic formula, which essencially removes the offending protein/allergen from the diet. Is your son on a milk based formula currently? By trialing a formula such as Noecate Infant, you can usually see the rash decrease within about 2 weeks (depending on how severe the rash was and assuming it was due to food allergies). Its good to talk to your doctor before starting on a formula such as Neocate Infant just so you are all on the same page. The Dr may be able to provide samples for a trial. Hope this helps a bit. Feel free to call us at 1-800-Neocate for any further questions you may have.

  • 2012-04-15 | Lette

    My son had frequent diarrhea since he started drinking the regular formula, I was told in the hospital that it was normal. He developed rashes in his face after a week and his pediatrician told me that they are baby acnes. At 4 weeks old, my son had bloody stools. His pediatrician said that he could be allergic to cow’s milk and recommended Alimentum but my son doesn’t want to take it so switched to soy. My son’s rashes had gotten worst over the past 3months, it was all over his body and some of the rashes in his arms were weeping. On top of that he had this runny nose that didn’t go away. Went to see a dermatologist who prescribed 3 different ointments, it worked for about 3-4days, after that the rashes was worst than ever, it went all the way up to his scalp. I switched pediatrician, so at my son’s 4month check thats when the new pediatrician told me that my son could be allergic to soy. He recommended neocate or elecare but he said to put 1 packet of equal for every 4oz? At this time I am still waiting for my insurance to see if they will cover neocate, but I am wondering why we have to sweetened the formula, does it taste nasty?

  • 2012-07-11 | Hope

    My 3 month old has a rash all over his back and a little on his stomach. It doesn’t look like these other rashes and when I was looking online the photos of rashes that look the same all talk about lupus but his doctor today says it’s a milk rash. Is it possible my doctor could be wrong?

  • 2012-07-11 | Hope

    My son has a rash too but it’s only on his back and stomach and all the pics of similar rashes I’ve found online talk about lupus. His doctor says it’s a milk rash, could he be wrong? Is there a specific look to milk rashes?

  • 2012-07-11 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Hope,
    There is not a specific look to food allergy rashes. They appear very differently from child to child. The best way to know if it is a food allergy thats causing the rash, is to go on a 100% allergen free formula, such as Neocate Infant (use the Neocate Infant if your child is under 1 year, Neocate Jr for over 1 year). That way if the rash improves after 2 weeks while on Neocate, you will know it was a food allergy. If it doesnt improve on the Neocate than you will know it may be something more than just food allergies. Hope this helps and best wishes.
    Christine

  • 2012-07-11 | Hope

    Well my son is primarily breastfed… So I should just change the formula only or my diet as well?

  • 2012-07-11 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Hope,
    That is for you and your doctor to decide. If you decide to continue breastfeeding, you must be sure to 1) eliminate all the offending allergens from your diet and 2) ensure you are meeting your nutrient needs. Its best to discuss this with your doctor. Best wishes

  • 2012-07-28 | Kary

    My daughter had baby acne since day 1, and she is currently at the end of her 7th week.  Ever since week 4, she has had small patches of rough areas around the chin area, like dry skin.  In recent weekas, those dry patches seems to have spread to the rest of her cheek. She doesn’t appear to be itchy or irritated. She has no fever or vomiting. After doing some research online and consulting with her pediatrician online, I decided to use an eczyma cream last night, but today those dry areas seems to have gotten so much redder.  The pediatrican also suggested 1% hydrocortosone for potential rashes. I feel really bad because it seems like her skin condition is getting worse, and I can’t figure out what to do.

  • 2012-07-31 | Marie

    Yes my baby got a rash from cows milk!! Long story, but here goes. From the start he has always been breast fed. After he was born he got baby acne.. It kept getting worse and it spread to the rest of his body. It was like little dry bumps and scaly red skin around his wrists, ankles, etc. his face was also very red. Naturopath Dr. Suggested I cut dairy products from my diet. His condition improved, but didn’t go away. So I cut dairy and wheat/gluten from my diet. Within a month his skin was 100% better!!! It was amazing the difference my diet changes made! Fast forward to now and he is 14 months. Now he nurses much less, and is a good solid food eater. We give him no dairy or gluten products, up until a week ago I tried giving him cheese to see if he was still sensitive to it. Sure enough by the next day he had a large large over his entire front and back- it looked like tiny red clear fluid filled bubbles. Poor guy:( I won’t be doing that again. For those of you who are trying to cure a rash - evaluate your babies diet and yours too if you’re breast feeding!! Try to eliminate one thing at a time from the diet and wait about a week before you see results- it takes awhile for the allergen to leave the system. Creams and things treat the symptoms of a rash and not the cause! Diet changes are hard at first, but it gets easier, trust me! It’s well worth the effort to have your little one be happy, healthy, and rash free.

  • 2012-08-01 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Kary,
    If the rash is not improving with the creams, you should tell your doctor. Food allergies may be the reason for the rash. Work with your doctor to eliminate the allergens (most often milk and soy) from your diet if you are breastfeeding, or switch to a hypoallergenic formula, like Neocate which is 100% dairy free. Be sure to speak with the doctor so you are all on the same page. Best wishes to you and your little one.

    Thank you, Marie, for sharing your story. Im sure this will help other families dealing with rashes. Glad you were able to find a solution to your childs rash. Sounds like you both are doing well! smile
    Best,
    Christine

  • 2012-12-31 | Shaina

    My 3 1/2 month old son is currently on Neocate and my husband and I have been able to see a huge improvement in his temperament.  We had initially thought he may have a dairy allergy so we had put him on soy & as time progressed, we felt he may be allergic to soy so we ended up having him tested.  Both showed up negative!  So our pedi told us to put him back on dairy.  Within a couple weeks his eczema had gotten worse (he’d always had slight dry skin on his cheeks) and his temperament had dramatically changed.  He was no longer the happy little baby that we’d once knew.  So we went ahead and ordered some Neocate formula & immediately started him on it once it arrived.  He’s SO much happier but his eczema just seems to be getting worse.  Any reason for that?  We brought him in to the doctor and he mentioned that it may get worse before it gets better…  But how much worse is it supposed to get?!?!

  • 2013-01-02 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Shania, We are happy to hear your little one is feeling better. In regards to the rash, we have studies showing it can take up to 2 weeks for eczema (due to food allergies) to resolve. If it has been 2 weeks and your little one is still getting new rashes, then it may not be just food allergies, it could be environmental allergies as well. It may be easier said than done, but give it about 2 weeks on Neocate. As usual, call us if you have any further questions, and keep the Dr infomed. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • 2013-01-23 | Rachel

    Hi,
    My 12m just started getting a face rash around her mouth, she has had it for two weeks. She has been on cows milk since 12/25/12. Would you recommend me taking cows milk out of her diet? How long would I need to wait to see the rash go away? Could it be other dairy too such as eggs and maybe peanuts? How long should I trial before bringing her in? Thanks for all the help!

  • 2013-01-25 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Rachel,
    Well first I would say to speak with your doctor. Not all rashes are caused by food allergies. If you have the means and suspect its food allergies, it may be worth trialing at least 1 week without cows milk (this is where you will want to speak to the doctor or a dietitian). You will need to find a hypoallergenic supplement that is nutritionally complete in the mean time, such as Neocate Junior (for a child over 1 year) to ensure all nutrition is being met. Typically, it will take about 2 weeks to see the rash go away (as seen in studies using Neocate). Eggs and peanuts are also top allergens but it will be hard to know what exactly is causing the rash. Again, I would start by contacting your doctor. Let us know if any further questions. Best wishes!
    Christine

  • 2013-08-11 | anna

    Hi my son was diagnosed with food protein allergy at 4 weeks of his age, started on necoate( 2 weeks now), diarrhea resolved, from 15 stools/day decreased to 1-3/day. Mucus is still present but definitely it is harder to see blood in stool. But problem is with rash on his face that is not improving but now starting on his ears too. I don’t know what to due about it, how to help, is there something I can use so it resolve rash. Also should I use some special baby wash and lotions. I’m afraid that rash will spread all over the body as I have seen on pictures for some other babies. Help please!

  • 2013-08-22 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Dear Anna,
    First off, apologies on the our delay in responding.
    Its best to speak to your doctor about the rash. Im glad to see your sons GI symptoms have decreased though, thats a good sign. Eczema/Rashes may be caused by environmental triggers so it is important to speak to your Dr about lotions or bath washes will be the best for your little one.  Let us know if there are any further questions. Feel free to call us at 1-800-Neocate to further discuss.
    Best wishes to you and your son,
    Christine

  • 2014-01-21 | Devina

    My daughter is 8 months old. She had a rash come up it is on her face, neck, stomach, and arms around 7 months. I took her to the doctor and they tested her for strep it came back positive. They said her rash has come from that. However it has never went away it seems like it is but comes back worse. I have just started her on formula about 2 times a day when the rash started. She was breastfeed and still is but not as much.

  • 2014-01-21 | Christine

    Dear Devina,
    Rashes or eczema can be a sign of a milk protein allergy. Its hard to tell 100% unless you switch to a formula like Neocate Infant which is 100% dairy/milk free. Has the Dr brought up the potential for a food allergy. You should bring it up to the doctor if not. Also to consider, if you are breastfeeding and if a food allergy is suspected, you will have to eliminate the offending protein from your diet, as the proteins travel into your breastmilk. That is the best way to know if an infant has a food allergy (most of the time it is a milk allergy). First discuss with your doctor and then if you like, we can provide a sample can of Neocate Infant. This may help to figure out if its the milk in the formula that is giving her the rash.  Hope she gets better soon!
    Kindest wishes,
    Christine

  • 2014-03-16 | Nikki

    My daughter is covered head to toe in so called eczema. Her skin is not dry just red with a ton of tiny bumps. She’s been on alimentum for almost a week now and I see no sign of this stuff going away. She has bad gas, stomach aches, and a stuffy nose still. I do have two cats and two rabbits that live indoors. The doctors won’t refer her to an allergist they say she’s to young at 8 weeks. No creams or ointments that I’ve used seem to work.

  • 2014-03-17 | Rob

    Nikki,
    Very sorry to hear your daughter has such a bad case. Given the other symptoms you describe and that ointments haven’t helped, her eczema may be related to cow milk allergy (CMA). For some infants with CMA Neocate is a better fit than formulas that contain dairy. Neocate contains no dairy and is made in a 100% dairy-free facility. Most clinicians would recommend a 2- to 3-week trial of a formula like Neocate to see the most improvement. Feel free to give us a call if you have questions at 1-800-NEOCATE.

  • 2014-04-19 | Robin

    My 4 month old son has been battling horrible rashes (all over his body) since he was 3 weeks old. We just started Neocate 2 days ago. I am aware studies show it typically takes 2 weeks to see improvement, however, I notice there seem to be more rashes that developed after 24 hours of using Neocate. My question is is it normal for it to get worse in order to get better?

  • 2014-05-01 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Dear Robin,
    Rashes or eczema take time to heal and resolve if they are due to allergies. The 2 week period is specific for rashes as it can take time for the skin to completely heal. Its best to talk to the Dr about this. Also be sure other factors (such as environmental allergens) are not playing a role here. Hope your little one does well. Christine

  • 2014-05-20 | Jasmine

    My son has been battling eczema for about 1 yr… He is 15 months old. We learned at 8 months he is allergic to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts (specifically almonds, cashews,  and Brazilian nuts), and mustard… He is gaining weight and thriving but me being a typical worry wart I feel that he could weight more… He is in the 20th percentile for weight. .. but is very tall his dad is 6 ft 5… so basically he is long and skinny .. any way I just wanted to know if this drink has any other foods that my son may be allergic to u wanted to put him on pediasure but it obviously contains milk…. thanks so much

  • 2014-05-21 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Hi Jasmine,
    If your son is on Neocate Infant or Neocate Jr, there is no milk, peanuts, almonds, cashews, Brazilian nuts, nor mustard in the product, nor are there ingredients sourced from those foods you listed. Is your son on the Neocate Jr? Neocate Jr is more nutrient dense than the Neocate Infant, so that can help with providing adequate nutrition. Its always good to discuss with your doctor your concerns about his weight. Hope this helps. Let us know if we can help with anything else.
    Kindest regards,
    Christine

  • 2014-07-20 | Patricia Sproul

    How can I get a sample of Neocate?

  • 2014-07-21 | Rob

    Hi Patricia,
    We recommend that you ask your healthcare provider for a sample of Neocate. As a medical food, Neocate should be used under medical supervision. If the doctor’s office is out of Neocate samples, they can contact us at 800.365.7354 for more samples.
    Kind regards,
    Rob

  • 2014-09-23 | Melanie

    My daughter was formula fed, she couldn’t keep it down so she was switched to soy. Her spit improved drastically. At about 8 months old, she went back to the normal Similac milk based formula and I noticed she started getting a rash on her face but I didn’t correlate it to the milk because all my kids have had slight eczema on there cheeks as babies. I tried the steroid creams that worked wonders on my boys, but it didn’t help her rash at all. I tried every lotion and cream, nothing helped. Then I stopped using all that stuff and just washed her face with warm water every night. Still nothing… She turned 1 and I switched her to whole milk and this is when I started thinking maybe it could be the milk, because she got an unexplainable diaper rash and was constipated and the rash on her cheeks became very very bad.  She was only on the whole milk for 4 days. I bought soy milk, the diaper rash went away and the constipation is getting better, the cheeks are back to their normal rash but I can’t seem to get rid of it. She has a dr appt in a week but I really want to help her. Is ther a better substitute for whole milk? Maybe almond? I am just concerned about her getting the nutrition she needs.

  • 2014-09-23 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

    Hi Melanie,
    Thanks for sharing your story, and great question! You should certainly bring this up at the doctor’s appointment next week for the team’s advice.

    The most recent guidelines* suggest that children who are not breast-fed should remain on a replacement formula through 2 years of age. Often healthcare professionals do not recommend plant-based milks, as they are not nutritionally appropriate replacements for cow milk. For instance almond milk is very low in protein, so not a good replacement for dairy. Neocate formulas would be options that your healthcare team might suggest, but aren’t the only options.

    Best of luck to you!
    *World Allergy Organization (WAO) Diagnosis and Rationale for Action against Cow’s Milk Allergy (DRACMA) Guidelines

  • 2014-09-23 | Ana Villalobos

    Hi. I am would like to know where to buy neocate jr in Canada.
    I have a one year old baby that had a very bad ezcema when he was three months old, He was breastfeeding and with enfamil formula also, as soon I stop all dairy and switch to similac alimentum his eczema got better. But now that I started to give him cow milk he got hives and constipation.
    I know he his allergic to cow milk. So I would like to give him neocate Jr, but I don’t know where to buy it.
    my doctor didn’t said anything about changing milk.

  • 2014-09-24 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

    Hi Ana,
    Please give our Canadian office a call. They can help you, either with a direct purchase or by helping to see if a pharmacy in your area might be able to order Neocate Junior for you. You can reach the Canada team at 1-866-NEOCATE (636-2283).
    Best of luck!

  • 2014-10-29 | Beth

    Where can I buy this formula at???? Is there any stores in Hawaii that carries this product??? I desperately need to try this formula for my 4 month old daughter..

  • 2014-10-30 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

    Hi Beth,

    Usually the best way to try Neocate is to check with your little one’s healthcare team. Many doctor’s offices have samples of Neocate, and if not they can call us for samples. That way you don’t have to buy it to try it.
    Many pharmacies don’t carry Neocate, but can special order it within 24 hours. You can check our pharmacy finder to see if we’ve heard of locations near you that might have Neocate in stock, and give them a call:
    http://www.neocate.com/help-for-parents/tools/find-a-pharmacy/
    Otherwise give our Customer Service team a call (800.365.7354) - sometimes they know of other locations that order from us regularly.
    Best of luck,
    Rob

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