One morning you look at your child, and you see a bump, and another, and another…is that baby acne? Instead of that soft smooth skin, your baby has the growing red pimples of a teen. Kids grow fast, but not that fast, right?

What’s Baby Acne?

Don’t worry, baby acne is very common. There are two types: neonatal and infantile.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, neonatal acne happens in 20% of newborns. It often starts between 2-6 weeks of age. The less common form is infantile acne. Bumps and blemishes develop between three and six months of age. Sometimes the pimples clear up quickly. But sometimes it can take as long as several months or even a year.

Generally, breakouts appear on the cheeks or the nose. Red and white bumps can also appear on the rest of the face, back, scalp, neck, or chest. Once the marks fade, though, there are usually no scars.

What Causes Baby Acne?

Just like a teenager, one of the major causes is hormones. After birth, babies still have some of mom’s hormones zooming through their systems. These circulating hormones cause the baby’s oil-producing glands to go into overdrive, leading to baby acne.

Newborns also have undeveloped pores which can make the hormonal situation worse. Add in topical irritants like dirt, and you have the recipe for some infant pimples.

How Can I Prevent or Stop Baby Acne?

Good news is the best baby acne treatment is usually just waiting it out. Most cases of baby acne resolve with home care and some patience. Here’s a few tips from us to ride it out:

Make Sure It Actually Is Baby Acne

Babies can end up with a number of skin conditions. So, take some time to eliminate other causes. And when, in doubt, reach out to your pediatrician or a dermatologist.

  • Milia are small, white bumps on an infant’s face. Unlike baby acne, these usually present from birth. Milia occurs when flakes of skin are trapped just below the surface of the skin. About 50% of newborns have milia. The bumps go away without treatment within a few weeks.
  • Heat rash usually appears on a baby’s legs, arms, diaper area, face, and even chest. The tiny, red, moist bumps look like pimples and often emerge when it’s hot.
  • Diaper rash is red, irritated skin in the diaper area. Diaper rash happens when there is too much moisture, too little air, and some form of irritation.
  • Eczema may look different based on a baby’s age. The rash can look red and weepy when under 6 months. When older, the rash may spread to the elbows and knees. This usually requires a cream to halt the spread.
  • Cradle Cap, or seborrheic dermatitis, looks like smaller red bumps than baby acne. Yellow, flaky, and scaly skin can appear too. It is mostly found on top of the head but can spread to the eyebrows or the chest area.

Keep It Clean

You can wash the affected areas with warm water. Don’t use soap. Pat dry gently. Do this twice a day. Avoid using lotions. And don’t use any acne products (unless prescribed by your child’s physician), particularly adult ones.

Don’t Irritate the Skin.

No picking, scrubbing, pinching, squeezing, or popping the pimples. We mean it. This is the best way to avoid scarring.

When to Call the Doctor

As worrisome as less than smooth baby skin can be, it really does go away on its own most of the time. You can discuss questions about baby acne treatment at a well-baby visit or another regular check-up.

Reach out to your pediatrician for acne treatment options if you spot any signs of infection like:

  • Extra redness
  • Discharge of any kind
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Peeling skin
  • An allergic reaction
  • A fever
  • Eczema symptoms

You should also contact your doctor if it seems like your baby is experiencing pain or discomfort. Your provider may prescribe a cream, antibiotic, or another appropriate treatment.

Ultimately, a little acne won’t change how darling your baby is. Give yourself and your baby patience and a good cuddle. Soon it will pass, and you’ll be onto one of the biggest steps in your new parenting journey—finding child care help. When you’re ready, Sittercity can help you find the child care that you and your baby need.

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