Baby acne is acne that develops on a newborn's skin. Baby acne can occur anywhere on the face, but usually appears on the cheeks, nose and forehead. Baby acne is common — and temporary. There's little you can do to prevent baby acne. The best treatment for baby acne is usually none at all.
Baby acne is usually characterized by small red bumps or pustules on a baby's cheeks, nose and forehead. It often develops within the first two to four weeks after birth. Baby acne may look worse when your baby is fussy or crying.
Many babies also develop tiny white bumps on the nose, chin or cheeks. These are known as milia.
When to see a doctor
Consult your baby's doctor if you're concerned about any aspect of your baby's complexion. Baby acne usually clears up within three to four months.
It's not clear exactly what causes baby acne.
If you're following a standard well-baby exam schedule, your baby will likely visit with your family doctor or pediatrician soon. These regular appointments offer a good opportunity to discuss concerns about your baby's health. For baby acne, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Is my baby's condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available?
- Are there any skin care restrictions I need to follow?
What to expect from your baby's doctor
In order to determine the seriousness of your baby's acne, your baby's doctor may ask you:
- Do you have a family history of severe acne?
- Has your baby come into contact with any medications that can cause acne, such as corticosteroids or iodine-containing drugs?
Baby acne can usually be diagnosed on sight. No specific testing is needed.
Because baby acne typically disappears on its own within several months, no medical treatment is usually recommended. In some cases, however, baby acne lingers for months or even longer. If your baby's acne is particularly stubborn, your baby's doctor may recommend a medicated cream or other treatment. Don't try any over-the-counter medications without checking with your baby's doctor first. Some over-the-counter products may be damaging to a baby's delicate skin.
In the meantime:
- Keep your baby's face clean. Wash your baby's face with warm water daily. For babies with acne, use a mild moisturizing facial soap several times a week and rinse with warm water.
- Dry your baby's face gently. Simply pat your baby's skin dry.
- Don't pinch or scrub the acne. You may cause more irritation or an infection.
- Avoid using lotions or oils on your baby's skin.
June 12, 2012
- O'Connor NR, et al. Newborn skin: Part I. Common rashes. American Family Physician. 2008;77:47.
- Hay WW, et al., eds. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6580202. Accessed April 17, 2012.
- Rashes and skin conditions. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Rashes-and-Skin-Conditions.aspx. Accessed April 20, 2012.
- Pielop JA. Benign skin and scalp lesions in the newborn and young infant. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 17, 2012.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 25, 2012.