Baby Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Baby Acne

Table of Contents

First Things First, What Is Baby Acne?

A commonly found phenomenon in babies, baby acne, as the name obviously suggests, is the kind of acne that takes place in babies. Baby acne or neonatal acne/neonatal cephalic pustulosis usually comes up during the first initial weeks post-birth. Baby Acne can be recognized as red pimples and whiteheads on the infant’s nose, cheeks, and forehead. The acne, however, can also take place on their back, chest, or even scalp.

Baby Acne on Face: Symptoms

Baby acne isn’t a temporary problem and is rather easy to deal with. It usually occurs within the second to the fourth week after birth in the infant and can’t last for a couple of months in some babies. 

Most common baby acne symptoms include-

  • Red pimples
  • Rough, bumpy rashes
  • Small white pustules or whiteheads

Baby Acne vs. Infantile Acne: What is the difference?

While baby acne is what takes place within the first two-four weeks after birth, infantile acne is the acne situation associated with acne symptoms starting at 3 to 6 months of age.

Infantile acne also affects the baby’s face, back, chest, neck like baby acne, however, infantile acne is more commonly found to take place in boys. Infantile acne also is more severe than baby acne and can take much longer to go away. The treatment for infantile acne, also, is more intense, usually requiring topical retinoids and antibacterials for curing.

Babies who suffer infantile acne are also more likely to suffer from puberty and teen acne breakouts. Hence, a pediatrician consultation is a must if you notice your baby suffering from infantile acne.

Infantile Acne: What Causes Baby Acne - What are the Symptoms?

Pediatricians usually take into consideration the family history of acne and the food habits of your baby in order to diagnose acne and its severity thereof. 

However, keep in mind, there are some common skin conditions that a baby’s sensitive skin goes through which should not be confused with infantile acne. Such misleading conditions in question are-

1. Eczema

Eczema is a skin sensitivity condition that is commonly found in babies. It is an inherited form of skin sensitivity that causes extremely dry skin and usually occurs in the form of a red, inflamed, itchy rash. The rashes can be crusty, or oozy and show up around the age of three months. Though the rashes start on the baby’s face, they can very well spread across to other body parts. For the good news though, Eczema is treatable and it improves as the baby grows older and the skin becomes less sensitive.

2. Heat Rash

Another commonly occurring situation, heat rashes, also known as prickly heat or miliaria occurs in babies as a result of a blockage in their sweat glands. Milia (very similar to heat rashes), is the skin condition wherein babies display tiny, pearly-white, or yellow bumps that are caused by an overgrowth of protein in the skin.

Heath Rashes usually disappear on their own after a month. They are found to take place in most babies, given their sensitive skin, but are more prevalent in hot and humid locations. Heat rashes appear as clusters of tiny bumps surrounded by red skin. Heat rashes can be treated just by allowing the skin to cool off on its own or by cold compression.

3. Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum

The name of this skin condition might sound a little uncommon to understand but this condition is just as common as the common cold in babies. Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum occurs in the form of pustules that are surrounded by a blotchy red skin. It can take place as early as the second or third day of the baby’s birth. In most cases, it is self-curable, solves itself within a week, and does not require any treatment.

4. Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis

Referred to as ‘cradle cap’ in parental language, Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis most commonly occurs on the baby’s scalp but might also affect other areas like behind the ears, creases of the neck, arms, legs, and the diaper area. It appears in the form of scales on the baby’s scalp and is primarily caused due to overproduction of oil on the baby’s head.

For the good news though, this also goes away on its own in a couple of weeks and does not require medical attention.

Why do acne and acne look-alike conditions take place in babies?

While the exact reason for baby acne on the face and acne-like conditions is not very well figured and established, most experts believe that maternal hormones play a huge role. Also, since baby acne is more commonly found in boys than girls, the involvement of elevated infant androgens (male hormones) may also be a significant factor. Another research also points that baby acne can also be caused due to the inflammatory reaction on the baby skin due to Malassezia yeast.

Baby Acne on Face: Treatment

Since a baby’s skin is so tender and sensitive, it is prone to skin problems and conditions. However, also since a baby’s skin regenerates so quickly by virtue of their ‘growing up,’ acne leaves no scars and mark behind on their skin. Baby acne is not harmful and most cases of it go off on their own once the oil produced by the baby’s skin comes down.

In most rare cases when medical attention is needed,  baby acne is seen to cure with the help of following topical applications. However, please do note to never use anything on your baby’s skin without pediatric consultation.

  • Azelaic acid cream (anti-inflammatory)
  • Benzoyl peroxide or Erythromycin (antibacterial agents)
  • Topical retinoids (keeps pores clear)

Tips on Dealing With Baby Acne -

It might be a little overwhelming for you to be able to deal with your baby’s skin breaking out and you might not really like the sight of it very well. However, the point is to not make a big deal out of it and understand that it is a very common scenario and not something you need to lose your sleep on.

Here are a few simple tips on how to deal with baby acne

  • Cleanse your baby’s skin with lukewarm warm and a mild baby soap
  • Never scrub or use oily creams on your baby’s skin
  • Do not pop or pick the baby acne

To Conclude:

We will say it again: Baby Acne is a very common scenario and parents ideally have no reason to stress about it. The best way out for your mental peace, perhaps, could be talking to your pediatrician. Also, in any case, never use any cream or treatments of sorts without consulting a professional.

Baby Acne FAQs

1) How long does baby acne last?

On average, baby acne starts to develop at the age of two to 2-4 weeks and can last for as long as 4-6 months before clearing up. However, this time range is not absolutely concrete and it depends from baby to baby.

2) How to deal with baby acne?

  • Cleanse your baby’s skin with lukewarm warm and a mild baby soap
  • Never scrub or use oily creams on your baby’s skin
  • Do not pop or pick the baby acne
  • 3) Is it okay to wash a baby’s face every day?

    Though you may not want to bathe your baby each day, washing their face, hands, neck, and bottom is still recommended. Cleansing of these areas is called 'topping and tailing' and should ideally be done with lukewarm water when the baby is fully awake.

    4) What is baby acne?

    A commonly found phenomenon in babies, baby acne, as the name obviously suggests, is the kind of acne that takes place in babies. Baby acne or the neonatal acne/neonatal cephalic pustulosis usually comes up during the first initial weeks post birth. Baby Acne can be recognized as red pimples and whiteheads on the infant's nose, cheeks, and forehead. The acne, however, can also take place on their back, chest, or even scalp.

    5) What is a heat rash?

    Another commonly occurring situation, heat rashes, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, occur in babies as a result of a blockage in their sweat glands. Milia (very similar to heat rashes), is the skin condition wherein babies display tiny, pearly-white, or yellow bumps that are caused by an overgrowth of protein in the skin.

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