Just like adult acne, baby acne is a skin condition that appears as white bumps, red bumps, or pimples on the face or other areas of the skin.
Baby acne will usually go away within a few weeks on its own, without treatment.
This article discusses the causes and treatment of baby acne and some other common infant skin conditions. Most of these conditions clear up on their own, or with simple, over-the-counter medications.
If you have concerns about your little one, or about any condition on the skin, it’s best to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment, or a referral to a dermatologist.
What causes baby acne?
Many parents will ask, ‘What causes acne on my baby’s skin?’
It’s not entirely clear what causes baby acne.
One theory is that it’s caused by hormones, just as teenage acne is. In the case of baby acne, though, it’s the mother’s hormones that are causing acne to appear on her child.
During pregnancy, a mother’s hormones circulate through her baby’s system, in the womb, and some of these hormones are still present in a newborn baby’s bloodstream.
These hormones can stimulate oil glands in the baby’s skin, resulting in skin conditions that look like pimples.
Typically, baby acne looks like tiny white bumps, often on the baby’s cheeks. It often occurs within the first 6 weeks and is usually gone by 6 months.
Newborn baby acne
As many as 20 to 40 percent of newborn babies will experience baby acne. Whether it’s referred to as neonatal acne, infantile acne, or just pimples, your baby’s acne is extremely common and does not require medical treatment.
After the newborn period, or at about 6 weeks of age, it’s likely that your baby’s acne will start to improve or disappear, without treatment.
What if the baby has acne after 6 weeks of age?
Although most baby acne typically goes away by 6 weeks of age, in some cases it can last a little longer, or even appear for the first time after the newborn period.
Baby acne that appears after 6 weeks is referred to as infantile acne.
For persistent cases still apparent after 6 weeks, or new cases of infantile acne that first appear after 6 weeks of age, it’s best to seek advice from a properly trained and certified health professional, such as a pediatric dermatologist.
A pediatric dermatologist will be able to take a medical history to help determine what is causing baby acne in your child.
Sometimes, it can be due to topical products your baby’s skin is extra sensitive to; at other times it might be an indication of another health problem.
A dermatologist will advise you whether or not it’s necessary to treat your infant and suggest the most appropriate skincare products to use.
Baby acne on chest
Although baby acne is most common on a baby’s face (especially the cheeks), some babies will also have acne in other areas. Baby acne can appear on the neck, back, diaper area, or chest.
If you have noticed your baby’s acne in places other than the cheeks, this is completely normal.
Your baby’s chest is commonplace for skin problems to appear.
Pimples can appear anywhere on your baby’s skin, just as they do in adults.
Baby acne or rash?
How do you know if what you’re looking at on your baby’s skin is actually baby acne?
Red bumps on the skin can sometimes indicate a rash. This could be caused by a skin infection, irritation, a virus, nappy rash, or heat rash.
Read BellyBelly’s article Heat Rash On Baby – Causes, and Treatment for more information.
If you’re unsure of what you are looking at on your baby, see a doctor for reassurance.
Non-blanching rashes can indicate a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention.
Non-blanching means the rash does not fade under pressure.
To check whether your baby’s rash is non-blanching, hold a glass against the skin and press down firmly.
If the rash does not appear lighter in color under the pressure of the glass, then it’s considered a non-blanching type of rash.
Baby acne or eczema?
Eczema most commonly appears on babies around the creases in the knees and elbows. It can also appear on the face.
Eczema also looks different from neonatal acne.
Acne appears as bumps or pimples, while eczema is dry and crusty. On a baby’s head and face, eczema can sometimes be mistaken for cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis.
There are skin care products available without a prescription to treat eczema.
For more information, you can also read BellyBelly’s article Baby Eczema – 6 Tips For Healing Breakouts.
Erythema toxicum is a condition that might appear similar to baby acne or other common baby skin conditions.
It’s an extremely common skin condition in babies, which appears within the first week and does not require treatment.
Erythema toxicum looks like a rash of tiny red bumps that can sometimes be filled with fluid.
Erythema toxicum usually appears on a newborn baby’s face or chest and goes away on its own within a week of your baby’s birth.
How long does baby acne last?
Baby acne can last for days, weeks, or months.
The first appearance of baby acne is usually by 6 weeks of age, and it generally clears by 6 months of age.
How to get rid of baby acne?
Baby acne usually clears up on its own without treatment.
There are no particular skincare products you need to use to treat baby acne.
The skin of your newborn is very sensitive, though, and using an over-the-counter skincare product on a newborn baby with acne could lead to more serious skin problems.
Rest assured that infantile acne is common, and your baby’s acne will most likely go away on its own.
The best and safest treatment is to clean your baby’s skin regularly, with warm water and mild soap.
It’s important not to pick at, or rub your newborn baby’s delicate skin, as this could introduce an infection.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following treatment for a baby with acne:
- Never apply acne medicine, acne wash, or any other acne treatment to your baby’s skin, unless your child’s dermatologist or pediatrician has recommended it
- Be very gentle with your baby’s skin and avoid scrubbing the acne
- Wash your baby with lukewarm (not hot) water
- Do not use oily or greasy skincare products.
Breast milk and baby acne
A great, natural remedy for treating the appearance of baby acne is breast milk.
Breast milk contains anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to your baby’s skin cells.
To treat baby acne, simply dab some expressed milk on the affected area a few times a day and allow it to air dry.
This can help to reduce the amount and severity of acne.