Your Newborn Baby May Get Acne, Know All About Neonatal Acne or Baby Acne

Babies can also get acne and these are called baby acne or neonatal acne. Parents may consult a dermatologist if they see the acne increasing.

Chanchal Sengar
Reviewed by: Dr Ajay RanaPublished at: Feb 11, 2021Written by: Chanchal Sengar
Your Newborn Baby May Get Acne, Know All About Neonatal Acne or Baby Acne

Have you ever seen acne on a baby’s skin? Most people do not even know that baby acne does exist. For them, acne is only an adult problem that mostly happens during puberty, hormonal fluctuations, exposure to dirt or poor diet. Baby acne or neonatal acne is real as a lot of babies experience this. As per Dr. Ajay Rana, a world-renowned Dermatologist and Aesthetic Physician, there are several causes behind this problem but it doesn’t mean it is a serious condition. With proper newborn care, neonatal acne can be cured. Let us tell you more details in this article. 

What is neonatal or baby acne?

Neonatal acne is also known as baby acne. It usually develops when the baby is around 2 weeks to 6 weeks of life. In some cases, newborns are born with acne. The primary cause of acne in newborns is their mother’s hormones. Maternal hormones can directly impact the appearance of babies. These stimulate the oil-producing glands in the babies that aren’t active right after birth. As they get active, acne and pimples are caused. These maternal hormones are present in the baby’s body and circulating in their bloodstream.

As per Dr. Ajay Rana, neonatal acne is highly common on the cheeks, chin and forehead. They may also occur on the neck, head, chest and back. Mostly, babies with sensitive skin are super quick to develop neonatal acne. As the pores of the baby’s skin are still underdeveloped, they can easily trap dirt and cause acne. It may also give rise to blemishes. 

what is neonatal acne

What causes baby acne in newborns and its symptoms

Baby acne is pretty the same as regular adult or adolescent acne. They can be pimples or just red bumps. Sometimes, the skin around this acne may also redden. Similarly, whiteheads or white pustules may also occur on the baby’s skin. Neonatal acne is most commonly seen on the cheeks but it can occur anywhere on their face and body.

  • If the baby is crying or being very fussy, neonatal acne may become more noticeable.
  • Wearing rough clothes can also irritate their skin and aggravate acne.
  • Keep cleaning their face as the saliva that babies generally release from their mouth sticks to their face and trigger acne.

what is baby acne

Baby acne usually lasts for a few days or maybe weeks. Only a few babies end up having neonatal acne for months. They should be taken to a doctor for assessment and treatment if required.

Also Read: What Are Comedonal Acne, Their Causes and Tips To Treat Them

Is neonatal acne a serious condition?

As per experts, there is nothing to worry about neonatal acne or baby acne. Around 20% of babies get neonatal acne either at birth or in between two to six weeks of birth. Parents need not get panic about this. If your baby has neonatal acne, you would see breakouts on their parts of their face, chest and back. In some cases, scalp acne may also occur. These may linger around for weeks or months, in some cases. Most parents are concerned whether this would leave behind a scar but it won’t. After the acne, its marks would also go away on their own after some time.

Acne after six weeks

We have mentioned several times in this article that baby acne happens only from 0-6 weeks of age. If the child develops acne condition post this age, it is slightly concerning. This condition is called infantile acne which usually shows up between three to six months of age. If your infant gets infantile acne, you may consult a pediatric dermatologist. This is important for many reasons.

  • Find out if it is acne: Infant acne is quite uncommon and this is why it is important to find out if they are actually acne. There are several other conditions(eczema or atopic dermatitis) that babies get that resemble acne.
  • Find out if your kid’s skin is allergic to some product or ingredient: Many times, acne occurs due to allergic reactions. Some baby products may have ingredients that can trigger oil-producing glands and may cause acne flare-ups.
  • Find out if there is an internal issue that is causing acne: Acne before six weeks are fine by getting acne after six weeks is a sign of concern. It could indicate that there may be an internal problem.
  • Prevent the risk of permanent scarring: Though acne scars are uncommon in children with neonatal acne, infantile acne can leave behind scars. Getting them treated can prevent scarring.

How to Get Rid of Baby Acne- Tips From Dermatologist

how to treat baby acne

Neonatal acne usually disappears on its own without any treatment within a few weeks or months. But for the rare conditions, there are many steps that you can take for the quicker and more comfortable treatment of this acne:

  • Avoiding over-washing the baby because they have delicate skin that can dry out easily. 
  • Resist any temptation to pick, squeeze or burst any pus-filled spots that cause these acne more likely to appear.
  • Do not use over-the-counter acne treatments, such as face washes and serums, because these products will only make the condition worse. 
  • Don’t use products that are made for adult acne as the skin of babies is sensitive and they are too strong for the delicate baby skin that causes irritation.
  • Don’t use soap or lotion on affected areas.

Other conditions that resemble neonatal acne

There are some other conditions too that have similar symptoms as baby acne but are different.

Eczema

Eczema is one of the common skin conditions in kids. This causes red bumps on the face, elbows and knees. This may worsen over time as babies start to scratch their face with nails and crawling affects the bumps on knees. Eczema becomes yellowy and crusty with time. You may need to see a doctor to find out whether it is neonatal acne or eczema. It is referred to as atopic dermatitis in kids. Seborrheic eczema is also common in kids. This could happen wither due to a food allergy or skin sensitivity. There are several OTC medications for baby acne treatment.

Milia

Milia resembles whiteheads as they are tiny white bumps that emerge on the face of the baby. Just like baby acne, milia also develops within a few weeks of birth. This at dead skin cells trapped in the dermal layer.

Also Read: Eczema Care, Essential Oils To Soothe The Irritated Skin

Erythema toxicum

This is another skin condition that has similar characteristics as baby acne. It causes red blotches, tiny bumps and red rash mainly on the face, limbs and chest. These are mostly seen during birth and disappear after a few weeks. Needless to say, these are harmless.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, baby acne or neonatal acne are common in babies below six weeks of age. These generally go away on their own and hardly require treatment. Only if the acne condition persists after six weeks, you may need to take your newborn to a paediatric dermatologist to find the root cause. Meanwhile, baby acne is harmless and does not cause scarring. It is a common condition that would disappear after some time.

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