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When your baby is around two to three weeks of age, he or she might get baby acne. This is a condition that affects about 40 percent of all newborns and is usually not a cause for concern. Read on to know how to recognize signs of this condition and when you might have to call your doctor.
What is Baby Acne?
Also known as milk rash or newborn acne, this is a condition where your baby might get red or yellowish bumps on the face. These pimples on baby face resemble teen acne. The face is where this condition most commonly occurs, especially on the cheeks and forehead. It also appears on the chin or back of some infants. The acne can appear more prominent if the baby is hot and fussy or when there is saliva or spilt milk on the skin.
Note: Baby acne should not be confused with milia, which manifests in the form of small, white bumps on the nose and cheeks. These cysts usually occur when keratin (a protein) gets trapped beneath the skin’s surface.
What Are the Symptoms of Baby Acne?
Baby acne, also known as baby pimples, can appear anywhere on your child’s body. However, the face and, at times, the back, are most vulnerable. So, how does baby acne look like? Here are some things to watch out for:
- It is similar to teen acne
- It looks bumpy
- It is the same colour as baby’s skin or in some cases pink, red, or yellowish in colour
- It is usually not scaly or flaky
- White pustules or whiteheads may also form around the bumps
Causes of Neonatal Acne
No specific causes of baby acne have been identified. It is believed that it occurs like teen acne with the following factors playing a role:
- A combination of oils, bacteria, and hormones
- The remnants of the mother’s hormones combined with that of the baby’s
- A surge of androgen hormones in babies might act as a trigger
- Underdeveloped pores in a baby’s skin might make them more vulnerable
- Certain medications were given either to the baby or the breastfeeding mother
How Long Does Infant Acne Last?
Usually, baby acne goes away in about a month, but there are instances where it can last for three months. If it lasts longer, you may have to seek medication from your baby’s doctor. By six months of age, babies regain their soft, smooth skin.
Baby Acne Treatment
Since most cases of baby acne resolve on their own, there is no need to seek any newborn acne remedies. It usually doesn’t cause babies any discomfort such as itching, so the best thing to do in such a situation would be to leave it alone. Never pick at the acne or scrub it harshly as this can lead to permanent scarring. The best thing to do would be to just wash your infant’s face with some warm water and a gentle soap. Also, don’t use any oily creams or lotions on your baby till the acne is completely gone as oils can make the acne worse.
Home Remedies for Newborn Acne
The best thing to do when your infant has baby acne is not to do anything. The condition resolves by itself in most cases and, by trying to help, you might do more harm than good. However, if you feel you must do something, here are some home remedies to consider:
- Continue breastfeeding as the benefits of breast milk will outweigh any hormonal problems.
- Some people suggest that dabbing the acne with breastmilk can hasten the healing.
- Cleanse the affected areas with water and gently pat dry. Do this at least two to three times each day.
What to Do for Your Baby’s Complexion?
Your baby’s complexion will return to normal once the baby acne has run its course. In the meantime, ensure that your baby’s skin is dry and clean at all times. Never try to scrub away the bumps or poke them with anything as this can lead to scarring which can have a permanent impact on the baby’s complexion.
Rash or Baby Acne?
There are quite a few skin rashes that babies are prone to which may be confused with baby acne. However, the rashes will itch and make the baby feel uncomfortable, unlike baby acne. Here are some of the rashes to watch out for:
- Infant eczema
This is common in newborns, but here, the skin is usually dry, flaky, and red. There might be such patches around the cheeks and on the scalp.
- Heat rash
Similar in appearance to baby acne, these moist, red bumps are usually found on the arms, legs, upper chest and diaper area.
- Cradle cap
The bumps in this are usually smaller than baby acne though red in colour. There may be yellow, flaky skin on the head which can also reach the eyebrows and upper body.
Are There Any Preventive Measures?
Since there is no specific cause for baby acne, all you can do is follow some basic hygiene rules to keep your baby’s skin soft and healthy. Give your baby a gentle bath daily and ensure the clothes your infant wears are clean as well as comfortable. Keep the baby’s skin dry in summer and moist in winter and never scrub or poke any rash or bumps that might appear on your baby’s skin.
When to Contact Doctor
Whenever you feel concerned about baby acne, you should contact your doctor. This is because an allergy or another rash may be mistaken for baby acne. If this is the case, your doctor will be able to prescribe the appropriate medication and help your baby recover soon.
By knowing what baby acne is and how it presents itself, you will be able to gauge if your baby has acne or a rash that needs immediate medical attention. Staying alert and following healthy habits will stand you in good stead at all times.
Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.