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Worried about your baby’s sudden acne? Some babies go through this stage while some don’t. Don’t worry as we’ll let you know why your baby has developed acne, the treatment and how to prevent them from having it again.

Does my baby have baby acne or a skin rash?

When a red pimple like lesion occurs on your baby’s face you often have 2 things in mind: Baby acne or skin rash. Baby acne often develops within 2 to 4 weeks after birth and is characterized as tiny red or white bumps that usually appear on the face, nose, cheeks and even the forehead and are usually not painful. It usually clears up within 3 to 4 months without leaving scars. While rashes are dry, red itchy, sometimes a painful rash can also occur in the first 6 months of your infant’s life. It also appears on the cheeks and forehead and may sometimes spread to the elbows, knees and skin creases. This may also continue as your child grows older but sometimes your child grows out of it.

What is the cause of baby acne?

Baby acne is also called “pink pimples” or “neonatal acne”. The cause of baby acne is unknown, but some studies show that the exposure of the fetus to the maternal hormones and the sudden decrease of these hormones in the baby’s body might have contributed to the existence of such problem. It might be exacerbated by heat, fussiness, and skin irritants (strong laundry detergent, saliva,spit-ups or milk spill).

What are the symptoms of baby acne?

Almost 20 % of newborns are unlucky enough to experience this dilemma. It is characterized by small, red or white tiny bumps anywhere on the face, but it is commonly seen in the cheeks, nose, and forehead.

Treatments for baby acne

Baby acne usually resolves within a few weeks or two after occurring and does not leave a trace such as skin lesions or scars. But following these steps may help your baby’s acne to cure faster:

• Gently clean your baby’s face with warm water about once or twice in a day using your hands. Do not use washcloths that are sold in stores as this may aggravate your baby’s condition. Pat them dry and make sure not scrub their skin.
• Use a non-toxic mild baby soap. If you are already using a different soap, try discontinuing it and see if the acne improves. If not, use the non-toxic mild baby soap.
• Always pat dry your baby’s face after feeding to remove drool, vomit or spit-ups as breast milk is associated in the poor healing of skin related to baby acne.
• Do not use acne medications or astringents like the one used in adults. Baby’s skin is different from ours and these things might cause irritation to your baby’s skin.
• Lastly, have patience. As long as it is not painful and it does not bother them, let it not bother you either.

It is natural for babies to have these kinds of problems but taking extra precaution is not wrong. Also, remember that their oil glands will be gone for a long time and will only reappear when their reach the puberty stage.

Home remedy for baby acne

We listed down some natural home remedies that are proven to treat baby acne by moms that you can try today.

1. Extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil helps soothe and moisturize the skin of your baby. Just apply a few drops on the affected area about 4 times a day.

2. Cornstarch. This is always available at home. Just mix it with water then apply it on the affected area. It helps dry up the acne.

3. Honey and Lemon. The combination of the two naturally clean and nourish the skin and works best for baby’s skin as it is delicate and needs extra care in handling. Mix honey and lemon in equal parts then apply it on the affected area. Leave it for 25 minutes then rinse with warm water.

4. Oatmeal. An effective cure for acne but should not be applied under the eyes as it may cause irritation. Just blend 1/3 cup of oatmeal with lukewarm water and let them soak in the solution for about 8-10 minutes. Pat your baby dry.

5. Talcum powder. This is quite popular in treating baby acne because of its cooling effect and it keeps the skin dry without clogging its pores. Just sprinkle a bit of it on your hand then rub it gently on the affected area. Don’t let your baby inhale the powder as it might be harmful for them when inhaled.

How to prevent baby acne

It may be difficult to prevent baby acne as the cause is hormonal but some tips can help prevent it from breaking out:

• Make sure that you only use hypoallergenic products for your baby’s skin such as lotions, shampoos and laundry detergents as some chemicals included in the making of these products and some artificial fragrances can cause skin issues.
• It would help if you keep your baby’s skin dry by air-drying it or letting the skin absorb the moisture from bathing.
• Always keep your baby’s skin free from spilled milk, saliva, spit and vomit.
• Avoid oils and lotions that may worsen the acne even more
• Put mittens on your baby’s hands as they like to touch or scratch their faces.

When to worry about your baby’s acne

If your baby’s acne develops after the 6th week of age, it is now called as “infantile acne”. It is during this time that you might need to consult a dermatologist or pediatric dermatologist as it is uncommon for baby acne to develop, at this age as it usually begins immediately after they are born and is expected to clear on its own within a few weeks.

You need to make sure that your baby only has acne and no other skin conditions like eczema. Also, some blood-related problems can manifest as skin acne. With this condition, your child might need to get a blood test.

Also, if any of the following occurs, immediately consult your doctor:

• Acne appears more reddish than usual and with some swelling or discharge.
• Acne has yellowish head or pus-like discharge.
• Sudden fever.
• Remittent acne.
• Acne that causes pain and irritation
• If there’s no improvement within a month.

Other skin conditions that resemble baby acne

Eczema. These are small red bumps on the face, knees and elbows that are sometimes painful. These can get infected and appear crusty and yellowish. This can be treated by over-the-counter creams and probiotics.

Milia. These are white bumps that usually occur on your baby’s cheeks or nose. They are dead skin cells that are trapped in the pockets of skin appearing as such. This does not require treatment and resolves on its own.

Erythema toxicum. Also appears as tiny red bumps or as a rash on the face, chest and limbs during the first few days of life. They are harmless and again resolve within a week after birth.

Heat rash. These are tiny clusters of moist and red bumps that are similar to acne, but are commonly seen on the arms, legs, upper chest and the diaper area of your baby. It appears whenever it is hot and causes itching or a tingling sensation, making your baby fussier than usual.

Mongolian Spots. They are flat and are usually grayish to bluish in color that may be either small or large in size. It is commonly seen on the butt of your baby and are harmless. It fades away when your baby reaches the school age.

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Astley Golosinda profile photo
Astley Golosinda

My background is in the field of medicine and I have a Bachelors Degree in Nursing. My thesis in Nursing was also published on Journal of Gerontology

For the past 4 years, I continued my studies and dedicated my time to acquiring a Doctorate of Medicine. I was a working student all throughout my post-doctorate degree. I have clinical experience in the hospital both as a nurse and now as a medical student.