Neonatal acne may emerge on a baby's cheeks, chin, and forehead within the first 3 to 4 weeks after birth. Less common, but sometimes more severe, infantile acne develops in babies who are 3 to 16 months old.
More boys than girls get the small red bumps or pus-filled pimples that seem to flare up when a baby cries or fusses. Parents needn't fret: most cases of baby acne are temporary and require no treatment. The causes of baby acne are not completely understood. It is thought that the pimples could be brought on by the hormonal shifts that mothers experience throughout pregnancy. Rarely, baby acne may indicate an underlying hormonal problem.
Usually no medical treatment is needed. Seek your pediatrician's advice if baby acne worsens or does not clear up after 3 months. A doctor may prescribe a topical (skin-applied) medication or an oral antibiotic. In the meantime, take tender loving care of your infant's delicate skin:
- Clean your baby's skin gently. Wash your baby's face with warm water a couple of times a day, and add a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizing cleanser or facial soap a couple times each week. Use a soft touch to pat-dry your baby's wet skin.
- Protect your baby's pimples. Keep your baby's nails trimmed short so she won't scratch her lesions. As with other types of acne, poking or picking at baby acne can lead to infection, irritation, and scarring or pitting.
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