Baby Acne: Causes and Treatments



Everything about a newborn is delicate. The head is still soft, their bones are still fragile and their skin is very sensitive. That is why baby products are specially-formulated to suit their distinct needs. But what if no matter how much you take care of your baby’s hygiene, carefully choosing his personal care products, he started developing tiny red bumps on his cheeks, forehead, and chin. And upon inspecting closer, it resembles a skin condition common in teen and adults – acne.

Yes, acne can affect babies, even newborn. Acne is a common skin condition where hair follicles get clogged with dead skin and sebum and form plugs on the pores. But that is not the case with baby acne. There is no specific reason why this pretty common condition occurs but there are factors that can contribute to skin irritation that will eventually lead to baby acne.

Baby acne looks like a cluster of rashes with pinkish to reddish and white spots. Some inflamed ones may also appear yellowish because of pus. It does not only appear on the face but also on the baby’s back, neck and arms. You may notice irritability in your baby especially if the acne is inflamed or becomes itchy. You might need to keenly observe what might be causing the skin irritation from milk, saliva, clothing, etc.

Causes of Baby Acne

Newborn and infants can both suffer from this common skin condition. For the newborn, it can be noticed a few days after birth up to a couple of months. It can usually go away on its own without necessary treatments. However, if baby acne does not clear up until 3 months old, it becomes infantile acne that can last until two years old. Infantile acne is rare compared with newborn acne. These are the factors linked to the occurrence of baby acne:

Hormones are pointed out to be the most probable reason for baby acne and not just baby hormones but the maternal hormones that may still be in the baby’s bloodstream that causes it.

Skin sensitivity is also a factor to consider. Baby’s skin is naturally delicate and prone to irritation caused by the new environment that is far from the conditions it was used to inside the womb. Heat and dry air can make the baby’s skin dry and attract bacteria that can dwell on it. Formula milk can also irritate the skin that is why baby acne is also referred to as “milk rash”. Certain types of fabric can also aggravate skin acne and irritation, most baby clothes are made from pure cotton so watch out of your linens and beddings.

Before you resort to any treatments, you have to make sure that what you are dealing with is really baby acne. There are other skin conditions prevalent in newborn and infants that may resemble baby acne.


These appear like whiteheads on babies because these are usually found on the nose and on its sides. This is caused by blocked oil glands as the baby’s skin adjusts to the new environment. This usually goes away after a couple of days to two weeks.


Heat Rash

Heat rashes are moist, small bumps on the skin that appears when the baby exposed to heat or in a hot environment. It affects almost all parts of the baby’s body but can cause irritation especially in areas covered by clothing.


Yeast Infection

If the baby is taking or just finished antibiotics, yeast infection is quite common. It can cause thickening of the skin in some areas appearing like a thick cluster of rashes. I can also affect the mouth with white bumps called oral thrush.


Baby Eczema

It can start with redness and lead to dry, rough and scaly patches. It can appear on the scalp, neck, nape, butt, arms, and legs. It is usually hereditary, so if one of the parents has it, the baby is most likely to have it as well.


Diaper Rash

It may appear like acne but it localized in the butt, thigh, and genitals. Diaper rash is caused by moisture, abrasion, and irritation in the diaper region. It can be addressed by changing the diaper brand, changing the diaper frequently or by using diaper rash ointment.



This is a serious and contagious skin infection caused by bacteria. It may appear like a regular rash at first and would turn into blisters later on. It is best to consult a Pediatrician for proper management and prescription of antibiotics.



This is caused by a highly contagious virus that can appear as cold sores on the baby. This can be passed on during pregnancy is the mother has it or if an infected person kisses the baby. Since the baby’s immune system is still weak, it is important to pay attention to the following symptoms: high fever, irritability, rashes and skin sores particularly in the skin, mouth and around the eyes. Call your Pediatrician immediately if these symptoms are observed.

Treatment and Prevention for Baby Acne

Baby acne, like adult acne, can be managed by several diet and hygiene adjustments:


  1. Assess your baby products

Even if you think your baby products suit your baby’s skin, it is still important to evaluate each of the ingredients that may cause irritation and can clog the pores. Fragrance on baby products is among the silent culprit of baby acne. See to it that you only use alcohol-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic and oil-free products.

Avoid using lotion on baby’s skin. Unlike adults, babies do not need the moisturization from a lotion. As long as the baby is well-hydrated from milk-feeding, that should be enough.

  1. Avoid scrubbing and excessive washing

Your baby is not yet exposed to too many harsh irritants from its surrounds as long as you keep the room where the baby is clean. Washing with lukewarm water and gentle cleanser is enough to remove dead skin and sebum from the baby’s skin. It is also not advisable to wash the baby more than once a day. A sponge bath before bedtime using lukewarm water and a soft cotton cloth is highly recommended.

  1. Carefully choose baby’s clothing

So, you shopped and received dozens of clothes for your baby’s outfit-of-the-day photos? Make sure that these clothes are gentle enough for their skin. Non-cotton and synthetic fabrics may still be a bit rough for their skin to handle. Likewise, avoid layering too much cold unless the weather is really cold. Excessive sweating will not only cause baby acne but other skin disorders too.

  1. Change the beddings twice a week

If the baby stays with you and if you are used to changing your sheets once a week when the baby is not there yet, practice changing it twice a week. Better yet, get a co-sleeper crib for the baby. Our beddings are dwelling place for sweat, oil, dead skin and bacteria and the baby’s skin is too sensitive for that. If the baby is in a crib, change the beddings on a weekly basis or more frequently if it is no longer fresh due to milk and diaper leaks.

  1. Get some Vitamin D

Sunlight is essential to baby’s skin and bones with enough Vitamin D coming from it. Healthy sunlight for 15 minutes from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM is enough for the body to create Vitamin D to support its needs. It also improves the baby’s circadian rhythm making his body more in sync with daytime and nighttime routines.

Doctors usually advice babies with jaundice to get healthy sunlight exposure every morning to improve their complexion. The baby’s complexion can also help parents notice any skin irritation occurring.

  1. Use breast milk

Aside from feeding purposes, breast milk is also a good, all-natural remedy for skin conditions in babies. According to research, breast milk contains lauric acid, a natural antibacterial component. It is similar to the lauric acid found in coconut oil. It can be applied directly to the freshly washed skin of the baby. It will not only address acne but a whole lot of baby health concerns such as ear infection, diaper rash, and baby Eczema.

  1. Diet modifications

This is not for the baby but for the nursing mom. The nutrients you get are what the baby gets. The food you eat is what the baby eats. If you are breastfeeding, you might want to avoid allergens such as dairy, peanuts, eggs, chicken and some fruits that might get into the baby’s system through your breast milk. Since your baby cannot drink water yet, drink plenty of water as well so you can help balance your baby’s body’s PH level.

Final thoughts:

Managing acne is not easy for teens and adults, even more for newborns and infants whose skin is extra sensitive. Utmost care does not stop with providing the baby with food, clothing, and shelter. Parents become the baby’s first line of defense against everything as soon as they get out of the womb. Make them feel your tender loving care by ensuring their skin is baby acne-free.



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