Baby Acne

Overview

What is baby acne?

Baby acne, also known as “neonatal acne” or “neonatal cephalic pustulosis,” is a common skin condition that occurs in more than one in five healthy newborns. It typically arises around two weeks of age with little bumps and pustules on the infant’s forehead, cheeks, eyelids, and chin.

This condition should be distinguished from infantile acne, which is less common and presents at 2-12 months of age.

How common is baby acne?

Baby acne is very common. It affects over 20% of healthy newborn infants.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes baby acne?

The cause of neonatal acne is unknown but is thought to be an inflammatory reaction to yeast on the skin. It is not truly a type of acne.

What are the symptoms of baby acne?

Small bumps and pustules arise on the face and can extend into the scalp. Less commonly, these lesions are seen on the neck and upper trunk. There are no black heads or white heads as are seen in true acne.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is baby acne diagnosed?

A doctor will examine your infant’s skin to make the diagnosis. In most cases, no further testing is necessary.

Management and Treatment

How is baby acne treated?

Baby acne typically disappears within the first three months of life without medical treatment. When treatment is necessary, an antifungal cream such as ketoconazole or a low-potency topical steroid such as hydrocortisone may be prescribed.

Prevention

Can baby acne be prevented?

There is no way to prevent baby acne.

Outlook / Prognosis

What complications are associated with baby acne?

Neonatal acne resolves with no complications.

Living With

When should I call my doctor?

If your infant’s acne does not resolve on its own within 3 months, contact your doctor. Also seek medical evaluation if other symptoms arise such as skin blisters or peeling, fevers, fussiness, or poor feeding.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/01/2018.

References

  • Bolognia J, Cerroni L, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2018. p. 593.
  • Eichenfield, LF, Frieden IJ, Mathes E, Zaenglein AL. Neonatal and Infant Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2014. p. 70.

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