What If Baby Acne Doesnt Clear Up
If your babys break out just wont clear, you may be mistaking another skin condition for baby acne. Below are some various skin conditions that are similar to baby acne but require their own diagnosis and set of remedies.
- Milia: These are tiny white bumps, similar looking to whiteheads, which appear on nose, chin, and cheeks of baby. Milia can be present from birth, unlike baby acne, which sets in later. It can also occur alongside baby acne as your babys skin adjusts to life outside the womb. It is more often caused by sloughed off skin cells that get trapped in the outer layer of dermis.
- Heat Rash: While baby acne is on the face, heat rash tends to appear where the baby is clothed, including on the chest, stomach and neck, but also on the thighs and buttocks. Heat rash looks like a reddening of the skin with lots of tiny red bumps.
- Baby Eczema: While it can look similar to baby acne, especially when it shows up on the cheeks, its trademark look is red, patchy and scaly dry skin. It is very common in babies, and can also pop up in high-friction areas, like the folds of those tiny little elbows and knees. Eczema can be caused by diet, lifestyle, gut flora imbalance, dryness and also by genetics, if a parent suffers from eczema.
- Infection: If the bumps spread beyond face or if baby has a fever or cold symptoms, call your pediatrician immediately as these may be signs of an infection like roseola or RSV.
How Is Infantile Acne Treated
Although most cases of infantile acne resolve over time, it might be necessary for your doctor to prescribe medication.
Products containing benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids are often prescribed for mild to moderate cases of infantile acne. Theyre usually applied directly to your baby’s skin.
Antibiotics are prescribed for mild acne that is inflammatory. The antibiotics come in the form of cream, and its applied to the skin. Antibiotics are used to treat severe acne too, but these are usually taken by mouth. Multiple medications may be prescribed at once.
Caring For Acne On Your Babys Skin
If your baby has acne, dermatologists recommend that you:
Never put acne medicine or acne wash on your babys skin, unless your childs dermatologist or pediatrician recommends it.
Be very gentle with your babys skin, and avoid scrubbing the acne.
Wash your babys skin with lukewarm water.
Stop using any oily or greasy skin care products.
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An Indicator Of Future Skin Problems
Its almost impossible to tell what issues we must deal with in the future. But there are some clues when we are babies.
If your baby has neonatal acne, theres no need to worry. Although your child may still develop acne as they grow up, it isnt due to your pregnancy hormones. There is no connection between baby acne and the acne that teens and adults suffer from.
Infantile acne, on the other hand, can sometimes indicate that acne is also in the cards in the future. Some studies revealed this type could lead to more severe cases of breakouts during adolescent years .
Unexpected Uses For Breast Milk
Your breast milk has benefits beyond nourishing your baby! Here are some unexpected ways you can use it to help benefit your baby and yourself.
Breast milk is natures gift to humans, feeding and nourishing babies until they are strong little toddlers.
Your milk can have other benefits as well from helping clear baby acne and eczema to soothing a sore throat. Here are some unexpected ways you can use breast milk to help benefit your baby and yourself.
As always, make sure to consult your doctor before trying any home remedy.
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What Does Baby Acne Look Like
The characteristic signs of newborn acne are small red or white bumps that can appear all over the body but are usually concentrated on babys face and torso. You might also spy tiny white bumps on your newborns forehead, cheeks or near the mouth, called milia. These actually arent baby acne, per seinstead, the bumps are dead skin cells trapped in small pockets on the skins surface and tend to disappear within the first few weeks of life.
Infant acne can manifest as a crop or cluster of raised red bumps, sometimes filled with pus, and can appear anywhere on the body. Sometimes they disappear on their own sometimes they require treatment. Unlike neonatal acne, they can be a predictor of skin issues later in life, so partnering with a pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist can help set up a smart course of treatment, says Omar Baker, MD, FAAP, assistant clinical professor in the department of pediatrics at Columbia University and co-president of Riverside Medical Group in Northern New Jersey.
Do Not Pick At The Bumps
You may be tempted to pop or pick at the bumps on your babys face. Do your best to resist this urge. Breaking open the acne does little good in the long run and can lead to infection and scarring.
You might even cause your babys sebaceous glands to kick into high gear and produce even more oil. That extra oil on your babys skin can cause yet another acne breakout.
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Common Types Of Baby Acne
If your newborn develops neonatal acne, the more common form of baby acne, it will generally appear within the first two weeks of life. If, however, the appearance of your babys skin shows the signs of acne at six months or later, then it could be infantile acne. Infantile acne looks similar to neonatal acne but may persist for one-to-two years and, in severe cases, may result in scarring as well as an increased incidence of adolescent acne.5
How Is Baby Acne Treated
Baby acne usually disappears without treatment.
Some babies have acne that lingers for months instead of weeks. To treat this stubborn form of baby acne, your babys pediatrician may prescribe a medicated cream or ointment that helps clear up the acne.
Dont use OTC acne treatments, face washes, or lotions. Your babys skin is very sensitive at this young age. You might make the acne worse or cause additional skin irritation by using something thats too strong.
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When To Call The Doctor
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
What Else Could It Be
People may also confuse other skin conditions, such as erythema toxicum neonatorum and chickenpox, with baby acne or eczema.
Erythema toxicum neonatorum is a harmless skin condition that may occur within the first couple of days of life. It causes small spots and pimple of 14 mm in diameter on the arms and legs. Notably, the rash does not appear on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. It typically clears up by itself within 5 to 14 days.
Chickenpox is a contagious skin disease that causes a rash of blister-like spots and pimples on the stomach, back, and face. The rash can spread across the whole body and tends to occur alongside itching, tiredness, and fever.
Chickenpox can lead to severe complications in babies, so anyone who suspects chickenpox in a baby should take them to see a doctor immediately.
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Why Theres No Need To Be Concerned About Newborn Baby Acne
While red blotches on your babys previously perfect skin might seem like cause for alarm, newborn baby acne really is nothing to worry about. It affects up to half of babies, clears up on its own in almost all cases, and leaves no scars or marks. It also doesnt harm your baby. In fact, theyll feel no ill effects whatsoever.
If your baby develops spots or a rash and youre not sure what it is, always speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor. If your baby seems unwell and has other symptoms, such as a fever, go straight to your GP.
If you found our newborn baby acne article useful and feel more confident about what it looks like, what it is, what causes it and treatment check out our other skin related articles on our Parenting Community below:
Tips For Treating Baby Acne
Baby acne can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. To treat stubborn baby acne, your babys pediatrician may prescribe a medicated cream or ointment that helps clear up the condition.
Dont use over-the-counter acne treatments, face washes, or lotions unless you are sure that they are specifically formulated with your little ones delicate skin in mind using natural, plant-based, and gentle ingredients that are safe.
Your babys skin is very sensitive at this young age. Using just any OTC ointment might make the acne worse or cause additional skin irritation because some of its ingredients may actually be too strong for your babys soft skin.
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What Can I Do To Treat Baby Acne
Baby acne typically clears on its own and treatment is more a matter of taking good care of your babys skin while they have it. Best practices include washing your babys face with lukewarm water and mild baby soap daily, followed by a gentle pat dry. Never pinch or scrub the acne and avoid lotions or oils unless your pediatrician or dermatologist recommends them.
While some natural remedies like coconut oil, dietary changes and breast milk have been reported to help with baby acne inflammation, it goes without saying that its essential to consult with your pediatrician before trying any treatment.
Power Of Coconut Oil To Heal Baby Acne
Nothing can beat the soothing effect that coconut oil has on a babys skin. It acts as a hydrating agent for the skin and provides great results in case of baby acne. Just ensure you buy organic coconut oil that is unrefined. This type of oil also is known as extra virgin coconut oil.
Just put a few drops on some cotton wool and apply four times a day on your babys skin. Since it is chemical-free and natural, you have nothing to worry about. And, you will see a difference in a couple of days.
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When To Seek Medical Care
In general, baby acne is harmless and does not require urgent care. If you have any questions or feel that the acne on your baby’s skin is worsening despite using daily cleansing with a gentle soap, it is best to see your pediatrician. Additionally, if your baby is prone to scratching or picking at these lesions, there is a risk the affected areas could develop a bacterial skin infection, and it is best to seek further medical care.
How To Differentiate Baby Acne From Eczema
Infantile acne is different from eczema, which is why it’s important to take your baby to a doctor if they develop redness after 6 weeks of age. That way a pediatrician can rule out any other skin or medical conditions.
One key difference between eczema and infantile acne is that eczema will not have any pustules. Instead, eczema will look like rough areas of dry, scaly, or inflamed patches of skin.
If your baby does have eczema, the treatment will be different, so it is important to determine the cause of your baby’s acne before getting treatment. “Eczema treatment requires thorough daily moisturizing and sometimes medicated creams which are different from topical medications used for acne,” Gagin says.
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How Do I Know Its Not Eczema Milia Or Some Other Type Of Rash
Since there are many skin conditions that can affect a child, it may be hard for a parent to differentiate between acne and other skin concerns. Here are a few telling details for common skin issues in infants.
Eczema: Unlike acne, eczema is patchy, with more scales than individual pimples.
Milia: These small white bumps appear under the skin but dont have any redness around them. Because they are little cysts and not filled with pus, they wont pop like pimples.
Miliaria crystallina: A mild form of heat rash, miliaria crystallina develops when blocked pores trap sweat under the skin. Its more transient, but it looks similar to baby acne, says Rehmus.
Erythema toxicum: This common rash is more widespread around the body than baby acne. Each of the bumps has more of a blush around the back of it, says Rehmus. Its a benign rash that goes away by itself.
Viral infection: You can have rashes with viral infections, but youll notice a difference in the behaviour of the child, says Diambomba. They may not eat with as much enthusiasm, have different stools or have a fever.
Try The Breast Milk Remedy
There is no research to back up these claims, but many moms swear by the power of breast milk to clear up babys acne. Breast milk has high antimicrobial properties that can help keep your baby healthy. Those same antimicrobial properties can, theoretically, do just as much good when applied topically as they do when ingested.
Using a finger, just dab a small amount of breast milk on your babys inflamed skin several times a day. A great time to try this is during feeding periods when your baby is happy and content.
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Change In Diet Of Nursing Mothers
To clear up your babys skin, you would have to make some sacrifices. Change your diet and stop drinking dandelion tea, cut down on dairy products, sugar and citrus fruits. These food items can have negative effects on a babys skin. Reduce your intake of anything too sweet or sour and you will find your babys acne automatically starts subsiding.
Learn The Best Way To Get Rid Of Your Baby’s Acne Using These Simple Safe And Natural Methods
Rare is the adult who survived their teenage years without ever getting a pimple. Most of us have a brush with acne as teenagers, and our culture tends to think of acne as being exclusive to this age group.
This helps explain why it can be so shocking for new parents to discover acne on their infants. One day your baby has soft, clear skin, and the next you might discover their face is covered in tiny, pimply bumpsjust like an adolescent. Because we dont usually think of babies as being prone to acne, these breakouts can throw parents into a panic.
In reality, it is quite commonand for the most part, its entirely harmless. Still, most parents want to help the condition clear up as soon as possible.
Thats why weve put together this guide to getting rid of baby acne. Well walk you through what baby acne is, how long it lasts, what causes it, and the fastest ways to get rid of itas well as a few strategies for preventing baby acne and helping your newborn enjoy healthier skin overall.
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Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
In mild cases, prescription therapy is generally unnecessary, and the lesions may resolve with gentle cleansing of the skin. The first-line treatment most physicians prescribe is 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. This is an gel that is applied to the skin it is a commonly used acne product. It is generally well tolerated but may cause dryness. The next line of therapy, in severe cases, is to add an oral antibiotic. Most infants are able to stop oral antibiotics within 18 months. Rarely, cases of acne could be made worse by a fungus, which would require a topical antifungal applied to the skin for treatment. Your baby’s pediatrician may request the help of a pediatric dermatologist for severe cases of acne. Furthermore, in severe cases or those resistant to therapy, an investigation for an underlying hormonal disorder may be warranted.
When Should I Call My Doctor
If your infants acne does not resolve on its own within 3 months, contact your doctor. Also seek medical evaluation if other symptoms arise such as skin blisters or peeling, fevers, fussiness, or poor feeding.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/01/2018.
- Bolognia J, Cerroni L, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders 2018. p. 593.
- Eichenfield, LF, Frieden IJ, Mathes E, Zaenglein AL. Neonatal and Infant Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders 2014. p. 70.
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How To Care For Baby Acne
When caring for your babys acne, its best to keep it simple. Use lukewarm water and a mild baby soap to cleanse the area.
Be gentle with their skin. Avoid scrubbing your babys face or any affected areas, and pat their skin dry after washing. Dont pinch the acne or try to pop any pustules.
Dont use any medicated skin products or acne face wash on your baby unless your dermatologist recommends it. Dont apply any facial lotions, ointments, or baby oil to the areas. It could make your baby’s acne worse.