When people hear the word "acne," they usually think about hormonal teens or preteens, maybe into early college age. Occasionally, healthy adults will break out due to sweat, makeup or other bacteria and women sometimes break out before they get their period. One group of people that others don't consider when they hear about acne are babies. Babies are supposed to have clear and perfect skin, but many don't.
Acne has many causes. It can be caused by bacteria that gets into the pores, products like makeup or lotions, and even hormones.
Baby acne is often caused by the mom's hormones. The other main causes are underdeveloped pores and sensitive skin.
It's a very common skin issue that normally shows up around one month, has very little that can be done to be prevented or treated and clears on its own in a couple weeks, up to three months.
What are the symptoms?
Baby acne is usually on the cheeks, nose, and forehead and appears as small red or white bumps. They can appear as actual pimples or whiteheads. Babies can also develop small, hard white lumps under the skin called milia.
Milia is not actually acne, it's a small cyst that forms when oil gets trapped under the skin. It's harmless but won't be treated in the exact same way as acne is. It's common and generally painless.
What are the options for treatment?
Washing baby's skin daily with an infant wash and gentle washcloth one to two times a day should help to clear up the problem.
What should you avoid when treating baby acne?
Don't pick or try to pop the acne, that can lead to scarring or infections. Don't use harsh acne products meant for teens or adults and don't use harsh soaps or lotions on the skin. Do not scrub the skin either, that can cause irritation to the sensitivity of the baby's skin.
When should you talk to the doctor?
If baby's skin hasn't cleared up within three to four months, you notice scarring or something doesn't seem right, it may be time to speak with your doctor. If the spots turn blotchy, it could be a rash and not acne (some rashes start looking like acne). If you suspect one of the pimples may have broken and turned infected, you may also want to speak to a doctor.
There isn't a lot to baby acne, it's caused by hormones or underdeveloped pores in general and clears on its own but if it's stubborn, it can signal that your baby will be prone to acne as a teen as well. Just remember, acne isn't going to bother the baby. It's not hurting him in the least so you shouldn't worry too much, wash his face and wait for it to clear up.