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Everything You Should Know About Baby Acne

Dr. Coral Yap Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Coral Yap on June 21, 2021

Baby acne is actually more common than most people think. So if your little one develops it, don’t be alarmed. It’s usually only a temporary skin condition and will eventually go away without incident.

You might notice baby acne on your baby’s body or face, appearing as tiny white or red bumps or pimples. Nearly all cases of baby acne resolve on their own without the parents needing to seek medical treatment.

Also known as neonatal acne, baby acne occurs in roughly 20% of newborns. It’s important to note that baby acne isn’t the same as infantile acne. As such, it’s highly unlikely that you will see blackheads on your newborn.

In cases of infantile acne, blackheads, nodules, or cysts can appear. And without proper treatment, it can lead to scarring. Such is not the case with baby acne. If your newborn gets baby acne, it will likely appear within the first few months following birth.

But what exactly is the reason for baby acne? What causes it, and what do you need to look for?

Baby Acne Up-Close

While the actual cause of baby acne is still unknown, researchers believe that it’s linked to infant or maternal hormones. When your newborn develops baby acne, you’ll be able to see similarities between it and adolescent acne.

The same whiteheads and red skin will appear on your baby’s skin, only much smaller. The most common areas that baby acne appears include the face, upper back, neck, and cheeks, with the latter being the most likely place for baby acne to appear.

In some cases, baby acne can even be seen at birth. That said, you’re more likely to see it develop a few weeks after. Once it appears, baby acne can stay on your little one’s skin for days, weeks, or months.

If your baby gets fussy and starts crying, you are more likely to notice baby acne, as it can become more pronounced when your child is upset.

While hormones are believed to be the root cause of baby acne, there are other factors to consider. For example, if your baby is exposed to a rough fabric, it can cause the baby acne to become irritated and more apparent.

The same is true for skin irritants, such as prolonged exposure to saliva or vomit on your baby’s face. As such, it’s important to keep your newborn’s skin clean. If you notice that a particular blanket or article of clothing is producing redness, immediately stop using it and give the item a good wash or seek a softer replacement.

Treating Baby Acne

As mentioned, you typically aren’t going to need to seek treatment for baby acne. In most cases, it’s going to go away on its own. However, some newborns have baby acne that sticks around for months rather than weeks. If this happens, your baby’s pediatrician might need to prescribe a cream or ointment to help clear up the stubborn acne.

Please be aware that you shouldn’t use over-the-counter acne treatments. This includes face washes, creams, and lotions. This is because your baby’s skin is incredibly sensitive following birth. Using an acne treatment meant for adults could make the baby acne worse or even cause further irritation to the skin.

Over-the-counter treatment options are simply too strong for sensitive baby skin. As such, avoid using it and defer to your family pediatrician’s recommendations when it comes to using medications.

That said, there are some things you can do at home to help. Below are some tips to ensure that your newborn has healthy skin.

Wash Your Baby’s Face

Wash your baby’s face every day using warm water. Some babies put up a fuss when parents try to wash their faces. As such, it might be best to wait until bath time. You don’t have to use anything other than water.

However, you may use a mild soap or a cleanser that doesn’t contain soap. Your pediatrician can provide recommendations if you need a hand with choosing the best formula. It’s worth noting that fragrance-free baby products are the least likely to cause irritation.

Don’t Use Harsh Products

As discussed, acne treatments that are designed for adult use should never be used on your baby’s skin. The ingredients in these products are too harsh for sensitive baby skin and are likely to cause irritation more than anything.

The same is true for the many soaps designed for adults. Although they might smell nice and look harmless, you’re probably going to make your baby uncomfortable.

Don’t Use Lotions

The same applies to lotions and creams, as they can aggravate your newborn’s soft skin and actually worsen baby acne.

Never Scrub Your Baby’s Skin

Scrubbing your newborn’s skin with a washcloth or towel can serve to further worsen the skin. Rather, try gently sweeping a washcloth over your baby’s face using circular motions. When you have finally removed all of the cleaner, simply pat your baby’s face dry using a soft towel.

Never Pop or Pick

Avoid popping or picking at your newborn’s acne. This only serves to irritate your baby’s skin and can actually worsen the breakouts.

Be Patient

As mentioned, baby acne is usually harmless. You don’t have to worry about it itching or causing your baby pain or discomfort. As such, it’s always better to leave it alone. Picking at it or trying to get it to pop will not only cause your baby pain, but it will worsen their breakouts.

Confusing Baby Acne With Other Skin Conditions

There are a few skin conditions that can easily be confused as being baby acne. As such, it’s a good idea to speak with your baby’s pediatrician if you are ever uncertain about developments on your baby’s skin. It’s always better to be safe and get a clear diagnosis, as this will ensure that you handle it correctly.

The following are the most common skin conditions that resemble baby acne.

Erythema Toxicum

This skin condition is another common one that can appear as red blotches, a rash, or small bumps. Erythema toxicum may appear on your baby’s face, chest, legs, or arms within the first few days following birth.

Although it might sound scary, erythema toxicum is actually harmless. What’s more, it typically clears up on its own in less than a week.


This condition often appears as red bumps on the face. Eczema can also show up on the elbows and knees as your baby gets older. In some cases, eczema can get infected, appearing as dried, crusty yellow discharge.

Eczema may get worse as your baby begins crawling around due to the tendency to scrape their knees and elbows on the ground. Your baby’s pediatrician should have no trouble determining whether your baby has baby acne or eczema.

Unlike baby acne, eczema can be treated using a number of over-the-counter medications. In some cases, your family pediatrician may prescribe a medication for your baby’s eczema.


And lastly, there are milia. This skin condition consists of tiny white bumps on your baby’s face. Milia are the result of dead skin cells caught in small pockets of skin. You might see this condition appear a few weeks following birth. Treatment isn’t necessary, as milia should clear up on their own without issue.

Again, if you are ever uncertain what kind of skin condition your little one has, don’t hesitate to reach out to your baby’s pediatrician, as they can accurately diagnose it for you.


As you can see, baby acne typically isn’t anything to worry about. If you notice your newborn’s skin getting red and bumpy, it’s important to consider all possible causes, such as clothing, pets, and allergens.

If allergies are the cause of your baby’s irritated skin, you may need to turn to medication. Unlike baby acne, you can use an over-the-counter medicine to treat baby allergies. However, you need to make sure that what you are using is safe for your little one.

Today, drug companies everywhere are adding unnecessary chemicals to their products, including artificial additives for inactive ingredients. You don’t want such things in your baby’s belly. To ensure that you are giving the only real clean medicine to your baby, check out Genexa’s extensive line of medicine made clean.

As the first clean medicine company, Genexa uses only the ingredients that are needed to treat your loved ones. What’s more, you’ll find a wide variety of organic alternatives not just for children but for adults, too.

Thanks to Genexa, you no longer have to worry about putting potentially harmful unnecessary chemicals and additives in your family’s bodies. Genexa is committed to providing families everywhere with clean alternatives.

As such, you can replace what’s currently in your medicine cabinet with confidence. With more people choosing to avoid artificial medications and instead opting for organic alternatives, there’s no better time to join Genexa’s mission to change the face of medicine.


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