Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Skin Color Changes

Skin Color Changes

What might skin color changes indicate in a newborn?

The color of a baby's skin can often help identify possible problems in another area of the body. If your newborn has any of the following skin color changes, tell your doctor right away:

Increasing yellow color

Over half of all newborns develop some amount of jaundice during the first week. This causes a yellow coloring in their skin and eyes. This is usually a temporary condition, but may be a more serious sign of another illness. Jaundice is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells. As the old cells are broken down, hemoglobin is changed into bilirubin and normally removed by the liver. In a newborn baby, this removal process is not fully developed. Because bilirubin has a coloring, it causes a yellowing of the baby's eyes, skin, and tissues. As liver function matures, the jaundice goes away. A premature infant is more likely to have jaundice. The yellow tint to the skin can often be seen by gently pressing on the baby's forehead or chest and watching the color return. There are several types of jaundice:

  • Physiologic jaundice.  Physiologic jaundice occurs as a "normal" response to the baby's limited ability to excrete bilirubin in the first days of life.

  • Breast milk jaundice.  A very small number of breastfed babies develop jaundice when they are 2 to 12 weeks old.

  • Jaundice from poor breastfeeding.  Babies who are born early may have trouble breastfeeding at first and may also develop jaundice.

  • Jaundice from hemolysis.  Jaundice may occur with the breakdown of red blood cells due to hemolytic disease of the newborn (Rh disease), having too many red blood cells, or bleeding internally.

  • Jaundice related to inadequate liver function.  Jaundice may be related to poor liver function due to infection or other factors.

Treatment for jaundice depends on many factors, including the cause and the severity of the jaundice. Treatment often includes using special lights called phototherapy. Babies with severe jaundice may need hospitalization and blood transfusions.

Babies with jaundice may have feeding problems and be irritable or listless. Call your baby's doctor if your baby has any of these signs.

Blue color that does not go away

When a baby is first born, the skin is a dark red to purple color. As the baby begins to breathe air, the color changes to red. This redness normally begins to fade in the first day. A baby's hands and feet may stay bluish in color for several days. This is a normal response to a newborn's immature blood circulation.
Blue coloring of other parts of the body is not normal. Occasionally, a baby's face or lips and mouth may turn purplish with very intense crying. However, this should turn back pink when the baby stops crying. If the baby's color does not turn pink again, or there is an overall blue tinge to the baby, this may signal a problem. The blue coloring is called cyanosis and is often seen in babies with a heart defect, because the heart cannot pump the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. Breathing difficulties may also cause cyanosis. Consult your baby's doctor right away if your baby has any blue coloring.

Reviewed Date: 10-21-2014

Cambios en el Color de la Piel
Find a pediatrician
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of the Newborn Skull
Assessments for Newborn Babies
Baby's Care After Birth
Breast Milk Collection and Storage
Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production
Breastfeeding at Work
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Mother
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby
Breastfeeding: Getting Started
Breathing Problems
Care of the Baby in the Delivery Room
Caring for Babies in the NICU
Chromosomal Abnormalities
Common Conditions and Complications
Common Procedures
Congenital Heart Disease Index
Digestive Disorders in Children
Fever in A Newborn
Getting Ready at Home
Getting to Know Your New Baby
Hearing Loss in Babies
Hearing Screening Tests for Newborns
Heart Disorders
High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders
Infant Feeding Guide
Infant of Diabetic Mother
Infant Play
Infant Sleep
Infection in Babies
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Latching On or Sucking
Male Conditions
Neurological Disorders in the Newborn
Newborn Appearance
Newborn Care
Newborn Complications
Newborn Crying
Newborn Health Assessment
Newborn Measurements
Newborn Multiples
Newborn Screening Tests
Newborn Senses
Newborn Warning Signs
Newborn-Sleep Patterns
Normal Newborn Behaviors and Activities
Online Resources - Normal Newborn
Physical Exam of the Newborn
Preparing for Your New Baby
Preparing the Family
Substance Exposure
Taking Your Baby Home
The Growing Child: Newborn
The Respiratory System in Babies
Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn
Umbilical Cord Care
Vision and Hearing
Vision Overview
Warmth and Temperature Regulation
When to Call Your Physician

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.