Cutis marmorata: Another normal newborn rash

My doctor says my baby has Cutis Marmorata. What does this mean?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

There are a lot of rashes newborns get particularly within the first month of life. Pustular melanosis, sebaceous hyperplasia, erythema toxicum, and cutis marmorata are all names of skin manifestations in the newborn which sound absolutely frightening but are actually totally normal. Some of these ordinary rashes may look quite concerning to new parents, so discussing these with the physician shortly after birth can often alleviate some of this stress.

Cutis marmorata is a marbled or mottled look about the skin of a newborn caused by the uneven distribution of blood flow about the skin. The cause is felt to be due to both the immature vascular and neurologic system in the newborn. In other words, the normal adaptations of the skin adults have when exposed to heat or cold are not very efficient in the newborn. So, when a baby is exposed to the cold, the flow of blood in the skin becomes jagged in appearance. 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 coloration to these parts of the extremities.

Cutis marmorata generally goes away over the first month of life although it can remain more constant in certain children particularly those with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders.

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