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Baby Acne: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

baby acne causes and treatment

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Acne is a common skin condition in teenagers and adults. However, a baby can have acne. For an adolescent, acne is caused when excess oil, dead skin cells, dirt clogs the skin pores. However, the condition is a little different in babies, and the symptoms vary. 

What Is Baby Acne? 

Baby acne, like adult acne, manifests as a temporary skin condition that develops on the face or other parts of the body. It usually appears as tiny or red bumps. Also known as neonatal acne, the condition occurs in a staggering 20% of newborns. The acne manifests within the first few weeks of a baby’s life. However, it is entirely harmless and often disappears on its own. 

Baby acne is different from infantile acne. Infantile acne is the development of whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, papules, and any other inflammatory acne that can lead to scarring. This type of acne occurs more in toddlers; hence, it is different from baby acne. 

The main difference between the two is that; while baby acne occurs in the first few weeks of your baby’s life, infantile acne won’t affect your child until he is two years old. 

It is a little surprising; however, it is perfectly acceptable for your baby to have acne. Newborn acne is common and is not worth freaking out over. Despite how alarming the condition might look, it is a harmless condition. 

Some babies are born with mild acne. As a result, you might see a spike in the condition after a few weeks.  On the upside, it is a fleeting condition that does not require concentrated medical attention. 

What Causes Baby Acne? 

Although no significant cause has been linked to baby acne, the most attributed cause is hormones. Many studies have posited that infant and maternal hormones are partly to blame for acne development in babies. In newborns, it requires the combined effects of a hormone from the mother and the baby to cause an acne breakout. 

Maternal hormones course through a baby’s bloodstream during pregnancy. The hormones are not just present; they may stimulate a baby’s oil-producing glands. Although sluggish, the overproduction of oil can cause acne to break out on the face and other parts of the body. 

Apart from this, a baby’s skin pores are not fully developed. As a result, they are easy targets for blemishes and dirt infiltration. 

Not just this, babies have more sensitive skin, unlike adults. Their delicate skin can sometimes react with milk formula when it comes in contact with the skin. Laundered fabric with strong detergent or rough fabric can also irritate a baby’s sensitive skin and make the condition appear worse.

Babies also, sometimes, vomit what they eat. The vomit or saliva, if left on the face, can also cause acne. The combined effect of all these features is what researchers believe causes acne in babies. 

Related Read: What Causes Baby Acne In Adults

What Are The Symptoms? 

baby acne symptoms

What does baby acne look like? Acne in babies and adolescents have the same appearance and symptoms. It usually appears in the form of red or white bumps. The acne can appear in any part of a baby’s body. This includes the face, back, shoulder, etc.

However, the commonest areas are the cheeks, neck, and upper back. It is more pronounced when your baby starts to cry or fuss. However, it is often easy to confuse acne and other conditions. 

Other Conditions That Look Like Baby Acne

Eczema

Eczema appears as red bumps on the elbows, knees, and face. However, when it is infected, it appears crusty and yellow. The condition is worse when the baby starts to crawl and scrape the affected region. Although there are different types of eczema, seborrheic eczema is mostly confused and mistaken for baby acne. 

However, doctors won’t have a hard time distinguishing baby acne from eczema. If your baby has eczema instead of acne, you can treat it with over-the-counter prescriptions. Do note, though, that it is best to let your doctor examine your baby before concluding on the condition. 

Milia 

Milia are also tiny white bumps that develop on a baby’s face. Although common in babies, they can appear at any age. However, like baby acne, they often disappear without treatment. The condition develops when skin flakes are trapped in small pockets located close to the skin’s surface. However, they are not baby acne. 

Erythema Toxicum 

Another common skin condition that you can mistake as baby acne is erythema toxicum. It appears as tiny bumps, red blotches, and rash and occurs on the chest, face, and limbs a few days after birth. The good news is, it disappears on its own. 

Heat And Diaper Rash 

Baby heat rash appears as tiny clusters or moist, tiny, red bumps that look like can. They appear on the upper chest, diaper area, legs, face, and arms, especially during hot seasons. 

For this type, the skin feels tingly and itchy and may affect a baby’s mood. On the other hand, diaper rash is caused by irritants and moisture in the diaper area.

When Does Baby Acne Go Away? 

Baby acne lasts anywhere between weeks after they are born to about six months. Hence, it will go away by itself before your baby is six months. Therefore, although the time of disappearance varies from one baby to another, it won’t pass six months. 

If your baby is lucky, she will be rid of the condition after a few weeks. Nonetheless, lucky or not, it won’t pass six months. So, you don’t have to worry about your precious ones starting school with spots over their faces.  

However, while you wait, don’t use over-the-counter acne treatment, lotions, and face washes. Remember, a baby’s skin is most sensitive at such a young age. Hence, applying unsolicited treatment can irritate the skin and make the acne worse. Hence, instead of disappearing as it came, the condition can remain with your child for a longer period. 

What Helps Baby Acne Go Away?

There isn’t much you can do to rid your baby of acne; however, there are few tips and home remedies that you can try to keep the skin as healthy as possible. 

Keep The Face Clean

As often as you can, keep your baby’s face clean as you would if there is no acne. Hence, it will help if you pay attention to the bath time and use warm water. You don’t need to; however, you can look for a soap-free cleanser or a mild soap with no fragrance. To be safe, we recommend you ask your pediatrician for help. 

Steer Clear Of Harsh Products 

Products that are rich in vitamin A, retinoids, and erythromycins are used for treating adult acne. However, you shouldn’t try such products for babies. Don’t attempt bubble bath, scented soaps, or any for that matter that contains excessive chemicals. 

Don’t Scrub Or Use Skin Lotions 

Scrubbing your baby’s skin and using lotions can irritate the skin. Hence, you shouldn’t use creams and lotions that will make the acne worse. Instead of scrubbing with a towel, use a soft washcloth, and gently sweep across the skin in a circular motion. 

Try Breast Milk 

Does breast milk help with baby acne? Breast milk can ease acne and help a baby’s sensitive skin. You can soak a cotton ball with your breast milk and softly pat it on the affected area. Natural ingredients in the milk will help.

Be Patient 

Can baby acne go away fast? The mistake most people make with acne is to try to squeeze, pop, or pinch it. However, doing any of these will make the condition worse. Likewise, you shouldn’t do any of it to a baby’s skin. Instead, be patient with it. 

Besides, it is neither harmless, painful, or itchy. Hence, there is no reason not to be patient with it.  

When Should I See My Doctor? 

Although there is no treatment for acne, you should still consult your doctor for recommendations and advice. A routine checkup like this allows you to ask questions about the acne and clarify other concerns about your baby’s health. 

However, we recommend visiting your doctor with urgency if the acne results in pus-filled inflammations or blackheads. The reason is that this type of acne is associated with pain and some levels of discomfort. 

If the acne does not clear up as it should at the end of the expected period, the doctor can recommend treatment options. In rare cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide lotions, and other cures to prevent scarring. 

Do note, though, that they will only do so for extreme and severe baby acne conditions. In most cases, this type of acne is caused by underlying medical conditions. 

Some underlying conditions can prevent acne from disappearing as it should. They include congenital adrenal hyperplasia, tumors, and any other condition associated with the endocrine system. Hence, checking with your doctor is the best way to detect any underlying condition. 

So, When Does Baby Acne Go Away? 

Baby acne will go away on its own after a few weeks or months. It varies in babies but should disappear after six months. If it doesn’t, it might be a sign of an underlying health condition. If this is the case, your response should be to contact your pediatrician for an expert opinion. 

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