Learn about baby acne – what every new parent should know. Get expert insights and advice for your baby's skin health.

Baby Acne: A Guide for New Parents

Baby acne is a shock to some mothers’ systems, but it isn’t serious. Though yours will be a junior, his acne likely won’t be. While it’s understandable that the appearance of such lesions on such young skin would upset you, there is no need to panic about the aetiopathogenesis and treatment.

Every now and again, some babies get tiny red bumps on their faces that aren’t baby acne but a condition called ‘milia’, which generally goes away within a couple of weeks. Real baby acne normally starts around the second week of life as whiteheads with surrounding red irritated skin on the cheeks, chin, forehead, and the back.

Doctors tend to blame the hormones and extra oil production we all have in adolescence or adulthood for acne. As it happens, elevated oestrogen – passed from the placenta during pregnancy – may trigger infant acne. But nobody’s certain, and treatments are typically not needed for the few weeks that it lasts anyway.

Anyplace that baby acne shows up, especially when it’s in an area where the infant may have spit up, been sheeted on or rubbed against by detergents, or drooled, there can be some minor irritation to the skin. Changing your laundry soap can minimize the problem, and a damp cloth wiped across the little one’s face from time to time should take care of the rest.

Make sure you do not try any home remedies like a cream, oil or colloidal sulphur, since we know for a fact that these make the irritation on the skin worse. In most cases, as long as the baby is being washed with a mild baby soap, and this habit continues daily, this is normally sufficient. If the baby acne appears to get much worse, you may be treated with a cream or another type of drug. Your doctor will also first look at whether you might be taking any medication for personal use while breastfeeding, and this could be the cause of the acne appearing in breast milk.

Baby acne isn’t dangerous and it should abate over time. Stay the course with basic hygiene and a foaming cleanser prescribed by your physician – and arm yourself with some knowledge and strategies that can help your little one’s skin stay irritation-free.

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Questions and Answers:

What is baby acne, and why does it occur?

Baby acne is marked by tiny whiteheads sprouting on red, irritated skin, typically on a newborn’s face. While hormones passed from the placenta are partly to blame, its cause is unclear.

Is baby acne the same as milia?

It’s not milia, little ball-shaped, white bumps that sometimes appear on a baby’s skin but should soon disappear. So we’re left with baby acne, which, like human acne, often crops up after about two weeks.

Where does baby acne commonly appear on an infant's face?

Baby acne can be located on the cheeks, chin, forehead and sometimes on the back of your baby.

Can baby acne become aggravated?

Yes, spit-up, contact with harsh detergents on sheets, and drooling could irritate mild baby acne – but these time-limited irritations can usually be readily addressed.

Are home remedies like creams and oils recommended for treating baby acne?

No home remedies are recommended, because these could irritate the skin further. Mild cleaning with baby soap will generally suffice.

When should I consult a doctor about baby acne?

If baby acne becomes worse or bothers you, talk to your paediatrician. If you’re nursing, your doctor will also look for a possible drug connection.