How to safely treat baby acne, according to pediatricians

  • Babe acne may appear on the face and body and look like red pustules.
  • Babies usually have acne between two and six weeks, and it can last from a few weeks to a few months.
  • Most baby acne doesn’t need treatment, but some cases may require an antibiotic or topical cream.

You stare at your baby thinking he’s the cutest little person in the whole world, when it hits you: your baby is covered in acne.

The sight of a newborn baby with pimples can be a bit confusing at first, but acne is actually quite common in babies. Here is more information on baby acne, how to identify if there is a problem, and tips to help cleanse your little one’s skin.

Understanding Baby Acne

Lana Gagin, MD, pediatrician at Spectrum Health, says there are two types of acne in babies: neonatal or “newborn” acne and infant acne.

Neither type of acne is harmful to your baby’s health. Additionally, Gagin says that most babies with acne are otherwise perfectly healthy with no hormonal or other issues. health problems.

Newborn acne occurs before the age of six weeks

As the name suggests, neonatal acne usually develops during the neonatal period, which is the first four weeks of a baby’s life. It usually appears around two weeks of age, but can occur any time before six weeks.

It looks like small, superficial pustules, which usually appear on the baby’s cheeks, chin and forehead, and more rarely on the neck and upper body. You can identify neonatal acne because it is usually very mild and does not have whiteheads or blackheads.

“It gets better on its own within a few weeks or months, usually no treatment is needed,” says Gagin. And according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it generally won’t leave lasting scars.

About 20%, or one in five healthy newborns, will develop neonatal acne.

Childhood acne starts later, after six weeks of age

Childhood acne is less common than neonatal acne, affecting about 2% of infants. It develops after the neonatal period, usually between three and six months.

Unlike newborn acne, infant acne has whiteheads, blackheads, or reddish pimples. If the acne is mild, you can expect it to go away in one to two years without treatment.

However, if the acne is more severe, your baby may need medical treatment. If medication is needed, a doctor may prescribe a medicated cream or gel containing benzoyl peroxide to be applied to the skin. Or an oral antibiotic, such as erythromycin, can be used to manage acne and prevent scarring.

While this is not dangerous to your baby’s immediate physical health, “Occasionally, infantile acne can present with cysts which can lead to long-term scarring if left untreated,” Gagin explains. Additionally, several studies report that babies who suffer from childhood acne have a higher risk of developing severe acne later in life, such as during adolescence.

How to tell baby acne from eczema

Childhood acne is different from eczema, which is why it’s important to take your baby to a doctor if he develops redness after 6 weeks of age. This way a pediatrician can rule out any other skin or medical condition.

A key difference between eczema and childhood acne is that eczema will not have pustules. Instead, eczema will look like rough areas of dry, scaly, or inflamed skin.

If your baby has eczema, the treatment will be different, so it is important to determine the cause of your baby’s acne before receiving treatment. “Treatment for eczema requires full daily hydration and sometimes medicated creams that are different from topical medications used for acne,” Gagin explains.

How to treat baby acne

If your baby develops acne, you can follow these suggestions to help manage it:

  • If your baby first develops acne after six weeks of age, be sure to schedule a checkup with your pediatrician to rule out any other skin conditions.
  • Use only lukewarm water and mild soap for cleaning.
  • Do not rub or scratch the acne, as this can cause skin infection.
  • Do not use oils on your baby’s face.
  • Do not use over-the-counter medicines without talking to the pediatrician, as some products can do more harm than good for the baby’s skin.

Insider takeaways

In most cases, baby acne will go away on its own. And even if your baby needs medical treatment, Gagin says childhood acne should go away by age two.

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