What Is Infantile Acne
True infantile acne generally affects the cheeks, and sometimes the forehead and chin, of children aged six weeks to one year. It is more common in boys and is usually mild to moderate in severity. In most children it settles down within a few months.
The acne may include comedones , inflamed papules and pustules, nodules, and cysts. It may result in scarring.
What Is Newborn Baby Acne And What Does It Look Like
So what is newborn baby acne exactly? Newborn baby acne is a baby skin condition where tiny red or white bumps or pimples appear on a babys skin, typically when theyre between one and four weeks of age although some babies are born with it.
The medical term for baby acne is erythema toxicum neonatorum but that makes it sound more alarming than it is. Its actually a very common condition that affects up to four or five babies in every 10*.
Baby acne should not be confused with infantile acne which begins later or adult acne. It should also not be confused with baby milk spots. If youre unsure, please consult your GP.
The spots first appeared on my sons face when he was about 10 days old and I was convinced it was because I was doing something wrong perhaps washing him too much or even not enough. I also wondered whether he could be allergic to his formula. I shared my worries with the other moms at my parents group, lots of whom were second and third-time parents, and they explained that it was just newborn acne and that lots of their older kids had had it just after birth too. I felt a lot better after that and stopped trying to fix it. After a month it was gone. Its frustrating but you do just have to be patient.
Celine, mother to Ricky, one
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Baby Acne Versus Infantile Acne
Baby acne differs from infantile acne. Infantile acne is much less common and can present with open comedones or blackheads, while baby acne does not. Cysts or nodules are also sometimes seen with infantile acne and the condition can result in scarring without treatment. Infantile acne can persist until the baby is two years old.
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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:
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 babys 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.
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How Long Will My Babys Acne Last
The duration will depend on the type your baby has. Neonatal acne generally runs its course before four months of age. This type usually doesnt leave any scarring or marks later on.
Infantile acne, however, can be more persistent. Sometimes it can last up to two years, if not more. This may require treatment, especially if it seems tenacious it can also leave scarring if not treated properly .
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Infantile Acne Starts Later After Six Weeks Of Age
Unlike newborn acne, infantile acne features whiteheads, blackheads, or reddish pimples. If the acne is mild, you can expect it to resolve itself in one to two years with no treatment.
However, if the acne is more severe your infant may need medical treatment. If medication is needed, a doctor might prescribe a medicated cream or gel, that contains benzoyl peroxide to apply on the skin. Or an oral antibiotic, like erythromycin, might be used to manage the acne and prevent scarring.
Although it’s not dangerous to your baby’s immediate physical health, “occasionally, infantile acne may present with cysts which may lead to long term scarring if left untreated,” Gagin says. Moreover, multiple studies report that babies who experience infantile acne have a higher risk of developing severe acne later in life, like during adolescence.
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How To Prevent Baby Acne
While its impossible to prevent neonatal acne, the newborn period is the best time to develop smart infant skin care habits, which can help prevent future rashes, infant acne and skin issues. Even if baby was lucky enough to be born with silky-smooth skin, many of the strategies used to treat baby acne can also help prevent it:
Go fragrance free. The chemicals that make up artificial fragrances can irritate babys sensitive skin. Try hypoallergenic products, including lotions, shampoos and laundry detergents, when possible, to help prevent newborn acne.
Wash, dont scrub. Scrubbing can cause further irritation and make matters worse. Instead, gently wipe and pat babys skin dry to help prevent baby acne on the face.
Bathe baby regularly. For older, active infants, dirt and oil can get trapped in pores and exacerbate breakouts, just like with adults, so giving baby frequent baths can help minimize the possibility of breakouts.
Dont Let Your Baby Scratch Or Pick
Unlike you, your baby doesnt understand whats going on with their skin. The swelling and itchiness may cause your little one to scratch, rub, or pick their baby acne without even knowing it.
If you see your babys skin becoming more red and swollen, or if you see your little one rub the inflamed areas, its time to cover their hands with baby mittens or soft socks. This doesnt have to be a permanent thing, and your baby doesnt have to wear them all the time. Its simply to give the acne time to heal.
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Heres How Baby Eczema Occurs
Eczema, on the other hand, isnât just a few pimples on the skinâs surface. Itâs actually a lot more intense than that. âEczema, medically known as Atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, pruritic, inflammatory skin disease that occurs most frequently in children but also affects many adults,â says Dr. Agarwal. âThe fact that it is a chronic condition differentiates it from infant acne, which is self-limited.â And thatâs one of the major ways you can tell the difference between baby eczema vs. acne: eczema is chronic while baby acne will eventually go away.
When To See The Pediatrician About Baby Acne
Generally speaking, theres no need to see your pediatrician specifically for baby acne. If youre concerned about trying to prevent or get rid of baby acne on the face, or youre not sure whether its infant acne or something else, its never a bad idea to discuss it with babys pediatrician. It can be reassuring to find out exactly whats going on with babys skin and, in the case of baby acne, to hear directly from the doctor that its truly nothing to be concerned about.
About the experts:
Katie Pyle, DO, is a pediatrician at UCHealth Pediatric Care Clinic in Firestone, Colorado, with a clinical interest in newborn care. She earned her medical degree from Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Meagan ONeill, MD, is a pediatrician with Riley Childrens Health in Indianapolis. She earned her medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.
Omar Baker, MD, FAAP, is an assistant clinical professor in the department of pediatrics at Columbia University and co-president of Riverside Medical Group in Northern New Jersey. He earned his medical degree from George Washington University.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
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When Does It Present
According to the Mayo Clinic, baby acne often develops within the first two to four weeks after birth. It may develop any time before six weeks of age, though. Some babies are even born with it! This type of acne is also known as neonatal acne. When baby acne develops after six weeks of age, its referred to as infantile acne.
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Keep Your Babys Face Clean
Wash your babys face daily with warm water. Bath time is a great time to do this. You dont even need to use anything but water, but if you want to, look for a mild soap or soap-free cleanser. Dont hesitate to ask the pediatrician for recommendations.
Fragrance-free products are least likely to irritate your babys 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.
How Long Does Baby Acne Last
Baby acne usually clears anywhere from a few weeks after she’s born to the time she’s about 3 to 4 months old which happens to be a terrific time to schedule those professional pics leaving that beautiful baby skin youve been waiting for in its place.
And just in case you’re already worrying about your little one being teased in middle school, know that baby acne doesn’t leave permanent scars like the grown-up version can, and it doesn’t predict future teen acne problems.
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Keep Irritants Away From Your Babys Skin
Weve already talked about rough fabrics like towels, washcloths, and clothing, but there are other fabrics that can irritate your babys sensitive skin. Keep your infant away from furniture covered in coarse fabric. Dont let your little one roll around on the carpet if its particularly scratchy.
You may even need to inspect your childs stuffed animals to make sure that none of them are too rough. And if you have pets, be extra vigilant about keeping your babys environment clean, because dander can trigger an allergic reaction in acne-prone skin.
Various perfumes can also irritate your babys acne. Opt out of traditional perfumes or air fresheners and use Mustelas Musti Eau De Soin Spray instead. This natural, delicately scented spray is a versatile product that you can use on yourself, your baby, or your linens.
To ensure your babys environment is clean and free from allergens, use products that only contain natural ingredients.
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Whats The Difference Between Neonatal Acne And Infantile Acne
When someone says their infant has baby acne, theyre typically referring to a common condition known as neonatal acne . It isnt what we commonly think of as acne that presents as pimples, blackheads and whiteheads due to clogged pores. Infantile acne, on the other hand, occurs later in life and is a true form of acne thats found in young children. Heres how to differentiate between the two.
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Newborn Acne Is Generally Nothing To Worry About
About 20% of newborns have a type of acne called neonatal acne. Youll usually see it at about 2 weeks of age. However, it can develop any time before 6 weeks of age. Sometimes, a baby is born with acne.
If your newborn has acne, youll usually see breakouts on your babys cheeks and nose. Acne can also appear on a babys forehead, chin, scalp, neck, back, or chest.
Neonatal acne is generally nothing to worry about. It rarely causes a scar and tends to go away on its own in a few weeks to months.
Acne Is More Worrisome After 6 Weeks Of Age
When acne develops after 6 weeks of age, its called infantile acne. This type of acne is likely to begin between 3 and 6 months of age.
If your baby develops acne after 6 weeks of age, youll want to see a board-certified dermatologist or pediatric dermatologist. This can be helpful for several reasons. You can:
Make sure its acne.Its less common for acne to begin in a baby after 6 weeks of age, so you want to make sure your child really has acne. Other skin conditions can look like acne. Your child could have a skin infection or eczema.
Rule out something going on inside your childs body.When acne begins after 6 weeks of age, it can be a sign of a health problem. A skin exam and sometimes a blood test or x-ray is needed to rule this out.
Find out if a skin care product is causing the acne.Some babies get acne from an ointment or oil thats found in products used on their skin.
Prevent permanent acne scars.While newborn acne rarely causes a scar, infantile acne can cause permanent acne scars. A dermatologist can help prevent scarring.
While a dermatologist should examine a child who develops acne after 6 weeks of age, this type of acne often clears on its own. Clearing usually takes about 6 months to 1 year. Some children, however, have acne for a longer time. Its possible for acne to continue through the teen years.
Baby skin care
Never apply acne treatment to your baby’s skin unless a dermatologist recommends it.
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