Baby acne its causes and treatment

When we discuss acne, we think acne occurs only in adults but this can appear in neonatal and toddlers as well.

What is baby acne?

Baby acne is a condition that is very common but usually a temporary condition. Baby acne usually develops on the babyface or on the body. It results in tiny red or white bumps or pimples. In all causes, baby acne resolves itself.

  • It is also known as neonatal acne
  • Usually, it occurs in about 20% of babies

Baby acne is different from infantile acne in that open comedones, or blackheads, don’t usually appear in baby acne. These symptoms are common in infantile acne. Infantile acne may also appear as cysts or nodules. In rare cases, it can leave scars without treatment.

  • Baby acne appears only in 1st few months of life.
  • Infantile acne can last until your child is 2 years old.
  • Infantile acne is much less common than baby acne.

What Causes baby acne.?

  • Baby acne develops during the initial weeks after birth
  • It may be from hormones passed from mother to infant during the last stage of pregnancy
  • Some research suggests an inflammatory reaction to colonization with Malassezia species is the cause of baby acne.
  • Since a baby’s skin is delicate, baby acne can be aggravated by milk, formula, or spit-up coming in contact with the skin.
  • Rough fabrics or fabrics laundered in strong detergent can also irritate delicate skin and make baby acne look worse.

Neonatal acne Symptoms

Like adults acne, baby acne usually appears as red bumps or pimples. White pustules or whiteheads may also develop, and reddish skin may surround the bumps.

Babies can develop acne anywhere on their face, but it’s most common on their cheeks. Some babies may also have acne on their upper back or neck.

Acne may become more pronounced if your baby is fussy or crying. Rough fabrics can irritate the acne, as can vomit or saliva that stays on the face.

Baby acne may occasionally be present at birth. But, in most cases, it develops within two to four weeks after birth. And it may last for a few days or weeks, though some cases may last for several months.

Conditions may resemble baby acne


  • Eczema usually shows up as red bumps on the face.
  • It may also appear on knees and elbows as your baby gets older.
  • Eczema can become infected and appear yellow and crusty.
  • It may worsen as your baby starts to crawl around and scrape up their knees and elbows
  • The most common type of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis.
  • Seborrheic eczema is the condition most often misidentified as baby acne. It’s also known as seborrheic dermatitis and crib, or cradle, cap.

Erythema toxicum

  • It is another common skin condition that may appear as a rash, tiny bumps, or red blotches.
  • It can be seen on your baby’s face, chest, or limbs in the first few days after they’re born.
  • It’s harmless, and it usually disappears in less than a week after birth.


  • Tiny white bumps that may develop on your baby’s face
  • They occur when dead skin cells are caught in tiny pockets of skin and may appear within a few weeks of birth.
  • Milia are unrelated to baby acne and don’t require treatment

Baby acne Treatment

Unless your baby’s acne is being caused by an underlying condition, there is really no need to treat it. Newborn acne doesn’t harm your baby in the least and is purely a cosmetic issue.

All your baby’s skin really needs is

  • A gentle wipe down with plain water once or twice per day
  • Don’t use soap on your baby’s face and don’t scrub
  • Cleansing that is too frequent or too vigorous will irritate your baby’s tender skin.

In extremely rare cases, severe baby acne is treated with topical acne medications. But this should only be done if there is a compelling reason to do so and only under the recommendation of your child’s doctor since acne medications are hard on infants’ tender skin.

Newborn baby acne and Infantile Acne

It’s important to note there’s a significant difference between acne in a newborn and acne in an older baby.

Infantile acne can appear in babies around 6 weeks of age. It’s not nearly as common as newborn baby acne but it’s much longer-lasting, lasting from a few months to several years.

Just like with newborn baby acne, infantile acne typically is harmless and goes away on its own. But, in some severe cases, it causes scarring and may be treated with prescription medications.

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