Baby Acne: Treatments & Causes

Baby Acne: Treatments & Causes

Baby’s just been born, they’re facing the world for the first time ‒ the last thing they need now is baby acne!
Baby acne is a skin condition that can develop on your baby’s face and body in the first few months after birth.

Sounds scary.

But the good news is that neonatal acne is common, it’s temporary, and it’s almost always totally harmless.

So, take a deep breath. It’s all okay.

We get that it can be a bit disconcerting when you see unfamiliar pimples, blemishes, or bumps on baby’s face (we’ve been there).

Don’t worry, there are many mamas on Peanut whose advice and experience can help guide you through it. You’ve got this.

So let’s run through the essentials of newborn acne, the stages of baby acne, baby acne causes, and see if any baby acne treatments actually work.

Here, we’re sharing everything mamas need to know about baby acne – or neonatal acne, as it is sometimes known.

In this article: 📝

  • Acne on baby’s face
  • Stages of baby acne
  • What is the main cause of baby acne?
  • How long does it take for baby acne to clear up?
  • What’s the difference between infantile acne and baby acne?
  • How do you treat baby acne?
  • Should you be worried about baby acne?

Acne on baby’s face

First off, what is baby acne? Baby acne is a baby skin condition common in the first three months of life.

About 20% of babies are thought to get some form of newborn acne.

The sight of these baby pimples on your little one’s skin is enough to worry any mama.

But baby acne usually clears up without treatment. And it’s almost certainly not causing any discomfort for your little peanut.

This neonatal acne – or neonatal cephalic pustulosis, if you want the full lah-de-dah title – tends to come out in baby pimples and bumps on baby’s face, neck, and shoulders.

Although they share the name, you won’t see any of the blackheads or whiteheads that we typically associate with teenage or adult acne.

And it shouldn’t leave any long-term blemishes or scars on your little one’s skin either.


Baby acne or infantile acne?

If you see it at all, expect baby acne to show its face after about two weeks.

Some mamas see it even earlier. And, strangely enough, it’s also not unheard of for babies to be born with it.

What you’ll want to look out for, though, is that it often clears up after about three months.

After this, baby acne becomes infantile acne. This thing can be a bit more serious – as it’s uncomfortable and has the risk of scarring.

Yet, there is a bit of good news here: it’s a lot less common.

Infantile acne can come with whiteheads and blackheads, too.

If you and your baby have passed that three-month mark, it might be best to get it checked out. Just to be on the safe side.

Baby acne vs rash

A poorly baby isn’t what any mama wants.

We have enough on our plates already. However, “the acnes” aren’t the only thing that might bother your baby.

Heat rash, for example, looks a bit like baby acne.

When babies get too hot, they can develop little blisters on their skin.

These are the result of blocked pores, which can be a little itchy.

How to tell them apart? Have a peep under the armpits and groin as well as on the neck, shoulders, and chest.

You’ll see heat rash hiding there where you won’t see baby acne.

Baby acne or eczema?

Similarly, eczema and baby acne are often confused.

Eczema is a common skin condition that comes up when the skin is dry or gets irritated by something like dust, detergent, or an animal.

This one is red, itchy, and sometimes painful. But a doctor can help if you think your child has eczema.

Stages of baby acne

It can be hard to define the stages of baby acne, as it can literally spring up overnight.

But, generally speaking, newborn acne is at its worst during the first month of baby’s life, then goes away after about a month or two.

First, the baby acne might only be seen on your little one’s cheeks, nose, or forehead, but it may spread to all three places ‒ the same places where you might see adolescent or adult acne.

You might also see baby acne on baby’s body, or baby acne on their neck, too ‒ baby acne on backs is a little less common, but still known to happen.

What is the main cause of baby acne?

The weird thing about baby acne is that no one really knows for sure what’s behind it.

Like adolescent acne, neonatal acne is reckoned to be down to overactive oil glands in the skin.

But what makes them overactive in the first place is anyone’s guess.

Most doctors put newborn acne down to hormones – both yours and your baby’s.

What causes baby acne on the face?

If baby’s acne is just on their face, then the cause is still likely to be the same ‒ probably hormones.

Baby acne is more common in boys, and it is believed to be the result of a higher quantity of testosterone in their system.

However, this is nothing to fret over.

The hormones thought to cause newborn acne won’t affect any other part of your baby’s development.

It’s just a little skin blemish for now – which will almost certainly pass without a trace.

How long does it take for baby acne to clear up?

Baby acne is usually a temporary condition, clearing up within weeks of you first spotting it.

By two or three months of age, baby’s acne will have disappeared completely in most cases.

What’s the difference between infantile acne and baby acne?

With infantile acne, things can be a little different.

If your baby develops the condition after three months of age, it can sometimes last up to two years.

As we said above, though, if in doubt, you might want to get your baby’s acne checked out.

A doctor will rule out any other possibilities – and show you some ways to manage it.

How do you treat baby acne?

How do you clear up baby acne? If you’re frantically Googling “how to get rid of baby acne” ahead of a baby photoshoot, we’re going to tell you something you might not want to hear.

Unfortunately, there’s no “all-powerful treatment” for baby acne or neonatal acne treatment.

However, as we mentioned, it usually clears up by itself without you actually needing any.

Wondering what to put on baby acne? What you really shouldn’t do is use any skin creams, soaps, or ointments that you would use on your own skin.

Baby skin is incredibly sensitive at the best of times, and harsh medications or toiletries can make things worse.

The same applies to over-the-counter acne cream (which isn’t designed for babies).

Even some products touted as “baby acne cream” may not be suitable for your little one ‒ it’s best to check in with your doctor if you’re unsure.

In the meantime, you can help to keep your little one’s skin healthy by keeping it clean.

Having a baby bath in lukewarm (not hot!) water is a great place to start.

Mind that you don’t scrub or squeeze the baby acne because this can be sore and can make it worse.

You’d do best to avoid particularly oily or greasy products too.

The best soap for baby acne? Something gentle and fragrance-free is best.

Finally, a bit of patience will be your best friend through this. (How many times have you heard that as a mama!)

We know it’s not pleasant to feel your baby’s suffering – but it will pass.

You just need to give it the time to settle down.

Does breast milk help with baby acne?

It seems that everywhere you look, breast milk is being used to treat something or other!

But what about breast milk for baby acne? Does breast milk help baby acne clear up?

Some people swear by breast milk for treating baby acne.

So if it works for you and your child, then why not – you go for it!

It could be that the anti-microbial properties in breast milk might help any newborn acne that is caused by infection or bacteria.

However, there have been no scientific studies to support this – and it may not work at all.

In fact, most acne is not actually caused by bacteria in the first place. The main culprit? Probably hormones.

Should you be worried about baby acne?

We get that baby acne can be a concerning sight for any mama.

But don’t let it get you down.

All of those baby pimples and little bumps on baby’s face should clear up by themselves after only a matter of weeks.

If they don’t, get your little one to a doctor, who will help you find a treatment that works.

So that’s all you need to know about baby acne, treatments, causes, what to do for baby acne, and how long baby acne lasts.

Turns out, it’s usually nothing to worry about.

👶 More on oh-so-soft baby skin:
Should You Be Worried About Baby Rash?
Should You Worry About a Newborn Rash?
An Introduction to Baby Allergies
Diaper Rash: Info, Tips, Tricks, and More
Teething Rash: Symptoms, Tips, and Advice
An Intro to Babies at Bathtime
Bow Legged Baby? Everything You Need to Know
What to Know About Hives on Your Baby

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