57 answers

Dry Skin Behind 5 Month Olds Ears?

at 3 weeks old, i notice some thick crusty skin behind my daughters ears. to be honest, i thought it was just left mucous from birth since it was only her 2nd bath. i rubbed it away and thought it was fine. well a few weeks after, it was there again. i rubbed it away again in the bath and started checking daily. well it comes back in about 3-4 days. its thick, yellowy, rough skin in the fold behind each ear. the skin below seems very red. she did cry one time when my husband rubbed at it without being wet(what was he thinking!) and occasionally it seems like she MIGHT be itching it on my arm while nursing. it looks like it would hurt. i asked the pediatrician and she thought it was from not rinsing the shampoo from behind her ears. i know thats not the case as she always had it, only gets baths like every 3 days buts its always there, and i now rinse like crazy and it makes no difference.

any idea what it is and why its happening? do you think its good to rub it away in the bath? i use aquaphor now(pediatrician suggested also) but is there anything else to try? she said to stay away from creams and instead use gels like aquaphor but im not seeing a change. thansk so much

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So What Happened?™

thanks so much everyone for all the advice. i had no idea it was so common, and its good to know there is a good chance it will go away.
i had only ever seen eczema one time on my friends daughter but it was just red and blotchy, and then when i asked the pediatrician, she didnt believe it was anything other than me not rinsing the shampoo off(and i use an organic, all natural wash thats very mild).
im going to look into some things mentioned here, and if there is no improvment, ill go see a dermatologist since my doctor doesnt seem too familiar. my daughter did have cradle cap pretty bad!
thanks again for everyones advice! im glad im not alone!

Featured Answers

You know, my daughter had the same thing, maybe a milder case, and I used to just wash it and put a little A&D on. I also read in my baby book that it's seborrheic dermatitis and sometimes a little hydrocortisone cream can help. Hang in there!

Hi A.,
If you will contact me I will gladly send you a sample of Renew, an excellent lotion that really works.

I heard that it is just some mild secretion from glands that we all have behind there. It eventually goes away. Just keeping cleaning it mildly... I also heard thats where the saying "Don't forget to clean behind the ears" comes from... since most of us have some sort of secretion behind there when we are babies... Just what I have heard about it.

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Not to worry...It is natural for that to happen. I always used just baby lotion (lavender) on a q-tip behind the ear and it dried up on it's own...

3 moms found this helpful

Have u tried going to www.webmd.com.... i usually go there when i cant find an answer. U should also try taking your child to the dermatologist. Pediatricians dont know anything about skin. Belive me, my daughter has been getting these bumps all over her face, and to this day her doctor does not know what the hell she has. I've tried everything and they are still there. Hope u find an answer to your troubles. Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful

This is eczema! Be very careful and gentle with the area, apply neosporin if broken, once healed keep the are moisturized with a thick hydrating cream. Cortaid can be used to clear it up, but since your baby is so young mix with lotion then apply, but on unbroken skin otherwise it will sting.

Also find a new pediatrition lol! This is elementary to identify!! Sorry.

1 mom found this helpful

My husband and son both had this. It came and went for a the first couple of years of their lives. It was like an eczema. Neosporin does the trick! Give it a try...

When my son was about 1 year old. I started working part time, which meant I had to take him to a sitter. One day during the 2nd week of work I too saw the dry skin, crusty and red. I thought he had been cut ( silly me, he was my first). I found out from my pediatrician that when children sweat in their creases the skin becomes chaffed and sometimes cracks and is raw. I was so embarrased. I was told to use some aveeno and to keep the area dry. It work o.k. but in later years I used a product called,Renew Intensive Skin Therapy by Melaleuca. It is a green product that has melaleuca oil(better known as teatree oil) in it. Very soothing, Now 25, he has learned to manage it himself but we still use the Renew Skin theapy. I hope it helps.
To see the whole line of products check out www.melaleuca.com. If you need more info on the company email me at ____@____.com

Hi. I really think I could help with this. I order things from a wellness wholesale company at great prices. The items that they sell have helped many people with skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis, etc. If you are interested in more info. contact me at ____@____.com

Regardless of what skin condition is truly is, I know of a product line that may help. It is called Renew (the lotion is better than Eucerin and there is also oil and body wash). If you need to go the route of ointments, their is Dermacort. All of which have a money back quarantee if you aren't satisfied. Let me know if you are interested or go to www.LiveTotalWellness.com/madden

Good luck!

My 6 year old had this. With her it turned out to just be dry skin build up. Babies are so new that their skin cells grow at amazing rates.

It is much like cradle cap. A little baby oil rubbed on or dabbed on will help it loosen, then fall off. Don't worry about scrubbing it away, just in case it is a skin reaction to something.

If it is just cradle cap (which sometimes even reaches the eybrows!), don't worry, it will go away on its' own eventually. If it is a skin condition, you will notice that it gets worse and spreads to other areas of the body. I think you're doing great by keeping up with it and taking the advice of your ped.

The first thing I thought was psoriasis. When I was a baby that was the only place I had it for many years. I don't know if I was diagnosed at such a young age with psoriasis, but that is what it was. Maybe bring that up to your dr and if he takes no action or says no, bring her to a dermatologist. They will know immediately!
Good luck.

Hi A.. Two of my boys had the same thing. And in the winter sometimes it would crack and bleed. No matter how much creams and lotions I used they still had that behind their ears. If it got really bad I would rub in a dot of neosporin. When I asked the DR. about it she said some kids just have that problem. And told me to keep doing what I was doing. My oldest had dry skin behind his ears until he was over a year old. I was talking to a friend one day about it (her kids are much older than mine) and her children's doctors gave the same advice. What might help too is instead of cream or lotion use vegetable glycerine. You can buy it at a health food store. It may be used topically or internally. It is great stuff. Use it on dry skin and rashes. Hope I helped.

I know you had responses on this already - but my son had this too. We used A&D Ointment daily and in about a week it was gone - and hasn't returned.

sounds like it may be eczema. my son gets it from time to time. mostly around his ears and by his nose. i use aquaphor (it really works well) or on particularly bad days, hydrocortizone 1%. try to limit baths too to maybe 2-3 times a week as the water seems to dry out the skin more. what baby wash do you use? our pediatrician recommended baby aveeno and that's what we use for my son -- works pretty well. ask your ped if it may be eczema and what could be causing it. good luck!

My daughter has the same issue since birth and she is now 18 months old. Our pediatrician said to use Eucerin Original or I have also tried Vaseline Intensive rescue clinical therapy lotion. When it is really really bad we had to use prescription Lotrisone cream. Definitely wash and clean the area daily and keep it dry other than the lotion / cream you put on it.
Hope this helps. :D

Dear mom
i'm sorry to hear about your daughter cracked skin. i dont think that it has anything to do with products. i'm 44 and just recently i had the same problem. i use to have ezema. also. my skin stays very dry. and i also get dry cracked skin from harsh chemicals. i would get dry skin behind my ears and would peel it away thats how dry it was. I got some hydrocordizon if i spelled it right and used it daily until it went away. they should have it for babies also. sometime mothers know more that doctors do about certain things. i also use at time natural shea butter. if its not itchy. your baby may just be allergic to whateva chemical is being used or the skin is changing.hope they feel better and blessing to you.

I have this too.. and I am 45. Vaseline is the best for this.. it really works for me.. good luck with the baby...

I always thought it should be a bath every day, not every three days. What about Johnson's baby lotion?

My son has the same issue. I noticed the crusty stuff behind his ears I cleaned it. I am one to bathe my son daily. We do cereal abth bottle bed. I clean it every day Also A and d ointment behind his ears keeps it dry and clean. I wash his ears and dry good then ointment.

My doc said it was an early sign of eczema. Sure enough, at 19 months, she's got eczema bad. All over her arms and legs. Good luck. BTW, I've tried the Arbonne and didn't notice any difference. But maybe it will work for you. I am now looking into Renew, if only it wasn't such a pain in the you know what to get ahold of.

Oh, and don't try any hydrocortisone, she's too young, stick with the aquaphor, unless it gets unbearable.

go to your local healthfood store and get food grade sweet almond oil. I had a rash that would not go away. i got it from a detergent allergy and dealt with it for months. i started to use sweet almond oil and it went away and the scaring effect went away too. it is natural, it won't stain anything with an oil residue, your skin loves it, it does not block the poors, so the skin can breath and I just can't say enough about it, and it is about $5, so it is not really expensive, and if the baby gets it in her mouth, it won't hurt her, because it can be used on salads.

Both of my daughters had this. I do not know what it is from but I remember the same thing. I just made sure that I kept the Aquaphor on it and it eventually went away. My 3 1/2 sometimes still gets it. Aquaphor is the best stuff out there for any dryness on your baby. I am a big fan of it!! Hope this helps!!

My daughter and son had the same problem with their ears and my daughter had extreme eczema. Aquaphor does nothing for eczema. For eczema we used something else. If you would like to know what we used please email me ____@____.com far as the ears go just take a q-tip and put Hydrogen Peroxide on it and rub it on the back of the ears and it will get rid of the crusty stuff right away and then dry the red skin to where the crusty stuff won't come back ever. The reason why the crusty stuff comes back is because its so moist behind the ears, so if you dry it out with Hydrogen Peroxide it will get rid of the red skin and at the same time it protects it from getting infected.

A. Brewe
Proud Member of Internet CEO Moms working from home

Hi A.,

It sounds like eczema--behind the ears is one of the first places it shows up. If your pediatrician is unfamiliar, I'd recommend taking her to a dermatologist who has experience with kids.

Good luck!

My son, who is almost 14 months old, has the same thing. He had cradle cap when he was younger and the pediatrician said it was the same thing, Seborrhoeic eczema (also Seborrheic dermatitis). Basically I have to keep the area clean and moisturized. My daughter's dermatologist saw it and said it could take a long time to go away.

My name is K. Waters and I have two children who have had this problem. They both have very sensitive, dry skin with patches of eczema and I have spent lots of money on dermatologist recommended lotions and gels and the one product that worked for us is Renew. It is a lotion but it works great for my kids and they no longer have any signs eczema and their skin is so smooth and healthy. If you would like more information just email me at ____@____.com and I can tell you where to get it. You can't buy it in a store. You can only get it through the company I work for called Melaleuca. It really works great!!

My daughters had that too. It is common for babies and kids to have that. after each bath, I would dab a bit of Burt's Bee baby oil in it with a q-tip and takes care of it every time.

This happened to my son when he was an infant - the pediatrician also told us to use aquaphor, lotion, etc but we saw no change so we brought him to a dermatologist who said it was excema - he told us cream would never work to make it go away and to use a little over the counter cortisone ointment 1% - we picked it up at the cvs - used it for less than a week and the problem was solved. It came back a couple of times but again it went away with just a little cortisone. I am a mom that uses all organic products on my son and did not like the idea of using cortisone but it worked wonders - give it a try or if you feel better about it call your pediatrician or a dermatologist and ask them if it is okay for your child. Good luck and hope this helps. FYI - if it is excema it is really itchy so you definitely want to get rid of it before it gets worse.

Both my daughter and son have had this. I used to rub it away. My pediatrician suggested it was refluxed breast milk or formula. I am sure this is not the case as I bathe my children every other day and wipe them down at night. They both had it since very young. My daughter grew out of it. It just stopped reappearing maybe around 15 months or so. Maybe when she was more able to rub back behind her ear herself. My son is 13 months and he still has it. They both had cradle cap which looks very similar to this (only worse behind the ears). I once read that it may be a form of excema ( my daughter had small slight occasional spots of excema). All I can say is she grew out of it and I believe my son will also.

my daughter has this. she was given a cream for it called clotrimazole and betamethasone dipropionate and it works to get rid of it but it just comes right back. my daughter is now 10 but she's had it for as long as i can remember. i pick my daughters flacky skin off her but i wouldnt remove anything that could be a scab. clean behind her ears when she takes a bath so that her ears stay soft back there and to prevent them from itching. i would use the meds our dr gave us often but he acts like he only wants us to use it when it gets bad (painful or very itchy).

I see you got a lot of advice already, but just wanted to let you know my son had it too, and he outgrew it (he's 2 now). It makes good habits though, I still am very thorough cleaning behind his ears, and I always put lotion behind there during the full body massage I give him after every bath. When he had it Vaseline is what worked for me in keeping it under control. I don't remember when exactly he outgrew it, but it should go away.

Good luck!

Don't use petroleum jelly. Two peds. told us to and it got worse. An allergist said Cetaphil lotion, soft water, and limiting baths which you do.
I am getting them too and it is painful when I rub it off dry, plus it bleads.

My daughter had that on her eyebrows and the dr warned that she might develop it behind her ears too. She told me to put on a little 1% hydrocordizone cream 2x a day after washing and drying the area. She said it's eczema.

Good luck!


Hi A.- My son has this too. His pediatrician gave me a prescription for Desonide to put on it to keep it away. So we'd put a little behind the ears after his baths. On non-bath days, I would just keep an eye on it, and clean behind the ears with a cloth and apply it if needed. He is 2 now and I occasionally still use it behind 1 ear. It works very well, and it is an inexpensive Rx. Best of luck!

My son is 7 months old today and he has the same thing behind his ears. This is my 2nd child and my first did not have it so it was new to me. I noticed it when he was about 2-3 months old and I thought initially it was maybe a spot that I missed in the bath and then it would keep coming back. Then, I thought it was dry skin because of the cold winter. Turns out, it is eczema and he needs to be constantly lathered up in aquaphor (a few times a day) to keep it under control. He now has developed a few other areas (usually in the folds of his skin where he might sweat and where it rubs together such as behind his knees and in the folds of his neck as he is gaining more weight). It never completely goes away but it stays under control if I am diligent about putting the aquaphor on. I do think it is itchy as my son is always grabbing at his ears and pulling (no ear infections either!). Neosporin won't help it either. I called the pediatrician this week to ask about anything else and they told me again to keep using the aquaphor. Good luck!!!

Hi A.,
It might be cradle cap. Something babies get. You might want to ask your doctor.
Good Luck

My daughter has/had severe eczema and behind her ears as well. It flares up more often during the winter so I give her oatmeal treatment baths and use Aveeno lotion for eczema prone skin anytime I see it starting to appear. However, the first and most important treatment was slathering her down with Eucerin lotion. It comes in a tub and is really thick. I always go back to it when her flare ups are "outta hand", the Aveeno is more of a maintenance treatment. Just rub the Eucerin behind her ears at least once a day or several if need be. Her eczema may never go away, my daughter is 5 now and even her cousin as it.

I heard that it is just some mild secretion from glands that we all have behind there. It eventually goes away. Just keeping cleaning it mildly... I also heard thats where the saying "Don't forget to clean behind the ears" comes from... since most of us have some sort of secretion behind there when we are babies... Just what I have heard about it.

Like everyone else said, sounds like eczema. Only problem with topical treatments is that a lot of times it only covers up the problem and most of the time eczema is caused by food allergies. Since aquafor is not working for you, I would suggest looking into food allergies such as wheat or the most common dairy allergy.

If you're breastfeeding, you might want to cut out dairy products. I know, I know... it's tough, but if it's something that really bothers you, then it's something to consider. Look at some vegan cookbooks for dairy alternatives... you'll be surprised what it out there. Try it for a week or two to see if it clears up... I bet you'll also feel a lot better cutting out dairy products. :)

My son had it all over his face to the point where he was bleeding and scabbing over. It was terrible! I didn't find out it was dairy until well after I stopped breastfeeding. My daughter didn't have it as bad. She only had it behind her ears. I knew better with her and I stopped consuming dairy products while I was breastfeeding her. Now with my third, she also has it behind one of her ears and even though I do not eat dairy products, I believe even minimal traces of dairy affect her... Or it may be wheat/gluten products which can be tougher to stop eating. Hopefully I can take the plunge and omit that from my diet.

Hope this helps. If you need any help, email me. :)

This sounds like it could be eczema. There is a product line called Arbonne Baby Care that has fantastic products including a Hair & Body Wash and Body Oil that are specially formulated for babies and sensetive skin. The products work very well on eczema to "control" the outbreak. I have used these products on my children for almost a year and I have seen such a difference in their skin, especially with controlling thier eczema, which 2 out of my 3 children have. The products are all botanically based and contain no mineral oil (which Aquaphor does). Mineral oil coats your skin like a glove and does not allow it to breathe, which is the skin's main function.

If you would like more information, please visit the following website: http:\\dinaallan.myarbonne.com then click on shop online then the baby tab. Good luck!

Both my boys had that. Aquaphor worked for us. Keep using it. Sometimes it takes a week to get rid of it. I would stop picking at it too.

My daughter had that too and her GI doctor said it was eczema....not a big deal, my daugther is now 9 months and it has disappeared. I used to put aveeno baby soothing relief moisture cream which claims it is for very dry skin and eczema. My pediatrician recommended AD ointment...she said she used it for everything. As long as it isn't bothering her and ti doesn't spread, I wouldn't worry about it. Eczema could be a sign of a food allergy so just keep your eye on it. My daugther doesn't have any food allergies and had the eczema....Good Luck!!!

I bet she has eczema. My son had it behind his ears too and I would recomend trying Eucerin cream. It would clear it up and when it started coming back I would just put more on.
Good Luck

My daughter had the same dry, itchy ears... only she batted at them and I kept finding blood behind one ear where the skin had cracked. It literally took months of applying aquaphor, and somtimes her ears seemed to be healing and then there would be dried blood behind them a week later. We never found out why, and her skin hasn't been overly dry anywhere else- she's 11 months now and her ears have been fine for about 4 months now. Good luck!

I had the same problem and used vaseline right behind her ears before bedtime and the next morning was able to simply wipe it away. I had to do it a few times, but it works really well and does not irritate my daughter's skin. Hope this helps:)

I didn't read through all the responses (too many!), but in case it hasn't been mentioned it could be a form of sebhorric dermatitis (that's what causes cradle cap). My pediatrician had us wash behind my baby's ears with a mild body wash and warm water, dry well, and use a 1% hydrocortisone cream (that's the kind you can find over the counter). It cleared it right up. One other thing to check is if it's a yeast infection since it's red underneath. A yeast/fungal infection won't respond to the hydrocortisone. My second son, 4 months old, had one behind his ears. You'd need a prescription antifungal to treat that.

My pediatrician made it sound very common (which was music to my first time mom ears - when I brought my 1st son in to see her with the problem I was feeling super guilty because I thought I had let my baby get "moldy" by not bathing him enough!!!)

Good luck!

The doctor is basically right. I had the same problem. Rinse behind ears gently (using no soap) daily, even if no bath. Then apply very thin coat of diaper-rash ointment or plain vaseline daily after gentle rinse and patting dry. Do NOT rub scabs off. They will come off by themselves and stop forming if you do the above treatment daily.

Hi A.,
Are you using Johnson & Johnson shampoo, or any other commercial products? If you do, this product contains Formaldahyde, which is a carcinogen.
I like to suggest to change your products to a healthier choice.
Just like to mention that commercial products only have to list 50% or less of their ingredients on the label and formaldahyde can be covered up with many names.
If you like I can suggest to you nontoxic products that are less expensive and do a better job. Also a lotion that will definitely help your little girl with her problem. This is available thru a members only club.
You can email me and I will speak with you privately.
Also, check out: http://C..healthyhometour.com

Both of my kids had this and I used baby oil to gently clean it off. If I just rubbed it, the skin would get angry red and irritated. I think it is just an oily build up so do not worry. My kids grew out of it but it is still a place on their bodies that gets a build up of dirt.

my son had the same thing, he had what is called exzema, i would maybe try eucerin, you can get it at your local grocery store, i would use it a few times a day, especially right after the bath, it should clear up soon. Try not to pick at it, which is hard if you are anything like me!
good luck

Neosporin always did the trick with my daughter, it's most likely excema.

both my children had this at this age and up. i think it's pretty normal. just wipe behind her ears with a wipe daily. also check the creases under her armpits and behind her knees. it will go away as she gets older. don't worry.

My daughter has had the same problem since birth too. My husband and I believe that it is just sweat and dead skin cells that do not wash away easily because the grime gets embedded between the fold of her ear and her head. Rubbing the area with your fringer or face cloth is not the solution. Use the aquaphor or plain old baby oil to loosen the dead skin prior to gently removing it was a cloth. It looks like dirt behind the ears and it is gross, but as long as you keep on it will go away.

Hi A.,
If you will contact me I will gladly send you a sample of Renew, an excellent lotion that really works.

Maybey its a form of cradle cap that most newborns get

Hi A., You might want to soften the crusty area with some vaseline and gently remove what you can. After that you could put some Balmex or any Zinc cream to heal the area. Check it when you bathe him so it does not build up again.Best wishes, Grandma Mary

my son had the same thing. His pediatrician said that it was baby exema(i know i spelled it wrong) and that there wasn't anything to worry about. Just to make sure to clean behind his ears, dry them completely and apply lotion and it would eventually go away.

You know, my daughter had the same thing, maybe a milder case, and I used to just wash it and put a little A&D on. I also read in my baby book that it's seborrheic dermatitis and sometimes a little hydrocortisone cream can help. Hang in there!

I have this too and have since i was a small child. My doctor told my mother it was cradle cap, but it never went away even as a teen. It was actually really bad and covered the entire back of my ears and when I would pick at it it would become almost seepy and would have a funny odor (not a strong odor) Mine has for the most part cleared up since my early 20's. I notice one of my three children has it too, and I am still unable to get a clear answer on what exactly it is and how to get rid of it.
I will suggest that you do not pick at it. It seemed that when I did it would be moist and spread to a larger area. It was very embarrassing to me growing up, I wouldn't wear my hair up for fear someone would see it and when I was old enough to have a boyfriend I would never let him touch my ears.
Best of luck and I want to follow this thread to see if you get an answer.

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