For the first couple months of Gabriel's life, I played the "what's the source of this rash" game a lot. I generally think that rashes are a sign of some sort of allergy and not just "something that all babies get."
The first rashy adventure started when I noticed that he was covered in tiny red bump. They didn't seem to itch or otherwise bother him, but they bothered me. It looked like tiny baby acne everywhere. Not cool! I eventually figured out that it was a contact allergy when one day bath time was interrupted and I only washed part of his body, and the soaped part got worse in the red-bumps department whereas the just-rinsed part looked slightly better. Turns out my boy is allergic to pretty much all soaps. Dr. Bronner's (unscented) worked on him for a while, as does the soap I make.
(Yes, I make my own soap. And yes, it's what I use in my homemade laundry detergent as well.)
Then, for a while, he started getting these ugly, scaly, raised, brown patches. They started on his tummy and spread, and then began sprouting on his legs. During the soap rash investigation, I'd read up on a lot of typical allergens and manifestations of allergies, so I was pretty sure this was eczema and I had a feeling it might be a dairy allergy. I was right. I went off dairy for a while, and he totally cleared up. Totally. The boy had PERFECT skin. No rashes, no bumps, no baby zits. Nothing. Beautiful skin. We got comments and compliments on it all the time. Stellar.
Until now. (You saw this coming, right?)
About a week ago, Gabriel woke up and lifted his head off the mattress, revealing a MAJOR red rash all over his right cheek. And it's been spreading. The redness and hugeness of it has gone down and is less startling (thankfully), but he's now got tiny bumps all over his face, arms, and legs. I can't figure out why.
At first I thought it was because I was back to eating dairy and had kinda gone overboard the two days prior (cereal for breakfast and pizza for dinner on the same day, that kind of thing). I went back mostly-off dairy, and the rash hasn't really cleared up and in fact looks like maybe it's getting worse - the bumps are smaller and less red, but there are lots more of them.
The ones on the arms and legs look like the contact rash he had from the soap a while ago, and the ones on his face seems to sorta match them but appear in huge clusters on his cheeks and forehead instead of a kind of even spread all over, as they are on the limbs.
The problem is, this could be anything. (Except I don't think it's dairy.) It could be from laundry detergent or some other thing he's coming into contact with - it's only affecting him in places that aren't covered in clothing/diapers. Maybe it's from me switching back to Dr. Bronner's soap after using my own for a couple of months - it did take a while to clear up, last time. Or it could be food-related - he's started solids recently and it's not unheard of for babies to be allergic to rice cereal (which is what he eats, for the most part). What's on his cheeks almost looks like a drool rash, and he's teething, so maybe that's part of the problem. He also had shots last week, so maybe it's a delayed reaction to the shots. All of these things changed or started last week, around the same time the rash did.
The good news is that it doesn't seem to bug him, and I think the general disappearance of redness is a good sign. I'll figure it out; it might just take a while. And in the meantime, I'm going to have a rashy baby. There are worse things.