Baby Acne: Blemishes in Infants

When you picture holding your newborn, you typically imagine a beautiful baby with perfect porcelain skin like you see in magazines. Ah the wonders of airbrushing. What you might not expect, and quite common among newborns, is the appearance of acne on your precious little one’s face. Baby acne, or neonatal acne, affects 40% of newborns generally around 2-3 weeks. I experienced this in both of my children.

Acne and Blemishes in Newborns

Many newborns have the appearance of blemishes or small pimples that show up on the face and usually heightens at around 2 months of age. They may appear as small pimples or red bumps with patches of red skin surrounding it. Although it looks bothersome, rest assured that it does not harm or irritate your baby in the least. The most common place baby acne will show up is on the nose and the cheeks, although it may also present itself on the forehead or chin as well.

There is no direct cause for infant acne, though it is believed that the maternal hormones often passed to the baby during the last trimester may play a part. It can also be brought on by skin irritations associated from drooling, spit-up, or contact with a rough cloth.  Heat and fussiness in your newborn can also make the condition more prominent.

Not all blemishes in newborns are necessarily acne. If you notice little white bumps on the cheeks or nose it could be Milia, which is unrelated to acne and also harmless. If the blemishes seem more like a rash or scaly rather than acne it could be eczema which may also appear on other areas of the body.

How to Treat Baby Acne

There really is no treatment necessary for infant acne. The condition usually clears up on its own in a matter of weeks to a month. In some cases, it may linger around for months. Do not use over-the-counter acne medications on your newborn as their skin is very sensitive and delicate in which certain products may only worsen the condition. Simply wash the area with water and a mild soap intended for babies.

Never try to ‘pop’ the pimples on your baby’s face. This will only make it worse and lead to infection or scarring from your fingernails. If it concerns you or the condition does not clear up after 3 months, you can ask your pediatrician for further recommendation. Your baby’s doctor may prescribe a mild medication if the acne is severe; however application of any medications should only be under the advice of your baby’s doctor.

Neonatal acne is best left alone. There is nothing you can do to prevent it from occurring, however you can avoid further irritation to the skin by keeping your baby comfortably cool (not cold) and avoid using oily lotions. While it may not look very pretty, I can assure you infant acne will clear up and go away all on its own.


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