What is baby acne?
Baby acne is a common and short-term skin condition that causes acne breakouts to form on your baby’s face or chest. Similar to adult acne, symptoms of baby acne include pimples, little bumps or pustules on your baby’s skin. It usually only lasts a few days to a couple of weeks.
Other names for baby acne are newborn acne, neonatal acne or neonatal cephalic pustulosis.
Is baby acne the same as infantile acne?
While both conditions have the same symptoms, the difference between baby acne and infantile acne is when it affects your child. Baby acne occurs on average around 2 weeks of age. Some babies are born with acne and it goes away within weeks. Infantile acne occurs between 2 months to 1 year. Symptoms of infantile acne can reach beyond pustules and bumps to include blackheads. If your child gets acne after 2 months of age, visit a healthcare provider. It may take longer for infantile acne to clear up.
Who does baby acne affect and how common is it?
Baby acne can affect any newborn before they turn 2 months old. It’s common and affects nearly 20% or more than 1 in 5 healthy newborns in the United States.
Symptoms and Causes
What does baby acne look like?
Baby acne can be present at birth or show up on your baby’s skin before they turn 2 months old. It can look similar to mild adolescent or adult acne. Features of baby acne include:
- Small, red to purple bumps that are swollen (papules).
- Bumps that contain pus, surrounded by a red to purple or dark brown ring (pustules).
Your baby’s acne may look more visible when they cry. They also won’t have blackheads if they have baby acne.
Where do symptoms of baby acne appear?
Baby acne is common on your child’s face, chest and back. Specifically, it can affect your baby’s:
What are the stages of baby acne?
Baby acne can appear suddenly or develop slowly. Pimples can start as small, discolored dots on their skin before they turn into raised pimples. When the inflammation of the pimples reduces, so does their size. The pimples are temporary and usually go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. After the pimples go away, your baby’s skin will be blemish-free.
What causes baby acne?
The exact cause of baby acne is unknown. Acne is usually the result of clogged pores. When your pores clog, a pimple can develop.
Providers suspect that baby acne is the result of hormonal changes that affect your newborn during birth or the first few weeks of their life. Hormones in the placenta can affect how your baby’s skin produces sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that the sebaceous glands in your baby’s skin make to protect their skin and hair. Too much sebum can clog pores and lead to acne.
In addition, babies have sensitive skin when they’re born. Their skin may react negatively to anything that’s left on it for too long, especially if they have food, vomit or drool residue on their skin.
Does breastfeeding cause baby acne?
It’s possible that hormones from a birthing parent’s breast milk (chest milk) can affect your baby’s hormones, which can lead to acne. Baby acne is a temporary skin condition that clears up, most often without any medical treatment. This shouldn’t affect the way that you feed your newborn. Baby acne will go away as your newborn grows and their body adjusts to their new environment. If you have questions about how your breast milk (chest milk) affects your newborn’s skin, talk to your healthcare provider.
Do kisses cause baby acne?
Affectionate kisses on your baby’s cheeks when they’re born don’t cause baby acne. Baby acne is usually the result of hormonal changes that cause their pores to temporarily clog.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is baby acne diagnosed?
A healthcare provider can examine your baby’s skin to make a baby acne diagnosis. Testing isn’t necessary to diagnose this condition. As this condition is harmless, you don’t need to get a diagnosis from a healthcare provider unless you’re concerned about how the acne is affecting your baby’s skin or if they have additional symptoms.
Management and Treatment
How is baby acne treated?
Baby acne is a temporary condition that goes away without treatment. Every baby’s skin is different, so if their healthcare provider recommends treatment, it could include:
- An antifungal cream like ketoconazole.
- A low-potency topical steroid like hydrocortisone.
You can apply these to your baby’s skin as you would a lotion or moisturizer. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how often you should apply these medications to your baby’s skin.
Are there any home remedies for baby acne?
Talk to your baby’s healthcare provider before using any products on your baby’s acne. Sometimes, at-home remedies can irritate your newborn’s delicate skin.
If your baby has acne, you can help it go away by taking care of your newborn’s skin. This may include:
- Gently wash your baby’s skin with warm water. Avoid scrubbing their skin. Then, pat your baby’s skin dry.
- Don’t use lotions or oils on your baby’s skin or products that may clog their pores.
- Clean up any food residue or vomit from your baby’s skin immediately after they make a mess.
If your baby’s acne isn’t going away or if it gets worse after a couple of weeks, contact their healthcare provider.
How long does baby acne last?
Baby acne could clear up on its own within a few days to a couple of weeks. The timeline could be faster if a healthcare provider recommends a topical medication. Sometimes, it could take up to a month before baby acne clears up. If your baby’s acne isn’t clearing up, talk to their healthcare provider.
How can I prevent baby acne?
There isn’t a way to prevent baby acne. You can help your newborn’s acne clear up by:
- Gently washing their skin at least once daily with warm water.
- Cleaning up any residue on your baby’s face when they’re finished eating.
- Not using greasy skincare products on your baby’s skin.
- Not squeezing or popping pimples on your baby’s skin.
Outlook / Prognosis
What can I expect if my baby has acne?
Baby acne is a harmless skin condition that resolves on its own. It doesn’t require medical care and there aren’t any complications from the condition. It could take a few weeks for your baby’s blemishes to go away. Scarring is unlikely, and your baby will have smooth skin once the pimples resolve.
Make sure your baby’s acne isn’t aggravated by oily skin care products like lotions. Simply use warm water to gently clean your baby’s skin and then pat their skin dry. Avoid scrubbing your baby’s skin, as it can irritate it.
Within a few days to a few weeks, your baby’s skin will clear up completely.
When should I see my baby’s healthcare provider?
Contact your baby’s healthcare provider if their acne doesn’t clear up after a few weeks. If they experience other symptoms like blisters, peeling skin, fussiness, a fever or feeding difficulties, visit their provider.
What questions should I ask my baby’s doctor?
- How do I help my baby’s acne go away?
- What kind of soap can I use to wash my baby’s skin?
- How often do I put topical medication on my baby’s acne?
- Are there side effects to the topical medication to treat baby acne?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Baby acne is a harmless skin condition. It’s common and many babies are born with acne. It’s a temporary condition, and their skin will clear up, without scarring, usually within a few days to a couple of weeks. If you’re worried about how acne will affect your baby’s skin, contact their healthcare provider.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy