What causes baby acne

When we think of the skin of a newborn we do not imagine that pimples can appear on the baby. There is always talk of a soft, rosy skin… but on many occasions the skin of our little one can present many imperfections and pimples.

There are some baby bumps that may need some specific treatment for a few months. But don’t worry, don’t panic! In many cases, baby bumps do not require any treatment, they are benign and will go away with time.

The skin of a newborn is especially delicate and special care must be taken with it. Always follow the instructions of the doctors is essential, and do not be scared if a pimple appears. Let’s see why the baby can get pimples and how we can identify them.

The presence of pimples on the baby’s face is a fairly common skin condition, although it is usually temporary, which can also develop not only on the child’s face but also on his body.

They appear as small bumps or pimples, which can be red or white in color. Fortunately, in all cases, the presence of these pimples usually resolves without medical treatment.

It is a type of condition that is medically known as baby acne, or as neonatal acne. It is estimated that it occurs in approximately 20 percent of newborns, and should not be confused with infantile acne, in which open comedones or blackheads, nodules or cysts do appear.

In the particular case of baby acne, it only occurs in the first months of the child’s life, while infant acne can last until he is 2 years old. However, it tends to be much less common, compared to baby acne.

What are causes of baby acne?

The truth is that it is not entirely clear why the baby develops acne. Some researchers, yes, believe that it can be caused by the presence of maternal or infant hormones.

Occasionally, these bumps may be present at the time of birth. But the truth is that, in most cases, they usually develop within two or four weeks after birth, and can last a few days or several weeks. Although, in some cases, they can last several months.

What are symptoms of baby acne?

As with acne in adolescents – for example during puberty – or in adults, baby acne also appears as red bumps or pimples. White pustules or whiteheads may also develop, and the skin around the bumps may turn reddish.

Although these pimples can appear anywhere on the baby’s face, it is usually more common for them to appear in the cheek area. In addition, they can also arise on the upper back or neck.

The pimples can become even more pronounced if the baby is crying or fussy. In addition, rough fabrics, vomiting (for example, the typical “swish” of the newborn or baby) or saliva that remains on the face can irritate them even more.

How it is treated?

In many cases, the pimples usually disappear without applying any type of medical treatment. That is, with the same that they appear, they usually disappear after a short time. In fact, there is no treatment for baby acne, although if the problem worries you or does not disappear, it is best to consult your pediatrician.

In any case, when the pimples persist for months, the pediatrician may prescribe or prescribe a cream or ointment that helps in the acne elimination process.

Since the baby’s skin is still very sensitive in its first months of life, it is not advisable to use soaps, lotions or treatments commonly used for acne in young people or adults, as they can irritate the skin or make it worse.

On the other hand, it is advisable to wash the baby’s face every day with warm water. Bath time is, in fact, an excellent time to be able to do it. Although water is enough, if you wish, you can use a soap that is as mild as possible, without perfume (since they will be less likely to irritate the child’s skin).

Lotions and creams can aggravate the problem, so it is recommended that until the pimples do not disappear, it is best to remove them completely. It is also not advisable to rub the baby’s skin with a towel, replacing it with a softer washcloth, avoiding the roughest and roughest fabrics as much as possible.

In rare cases, the prescription of an antibiotic is possible, although in babies this is only necessary when the problem is severe, and there is an underlying medical condition.

See your pediatrician right away if baby bumps cause pus-filled bumps, inflammation, or blackheads. Also if the little one is upset, feels pain or is more irritated.

Types of pimples in a baby

Neonatal acne or neonatorum

Some babies may be born with them, but they usually appear around the second or third week of life. They are red spots or pimples and may have a white head, similar to common acne. They usually appear on the cheeks, but in some babies they can appear all over the face. These pimples do not hurt, itch, or bother. They are not associated with breastfeeding or any food the mother may have eaten.

These pimples in the baby arise from the stimulation of the sebaceous glands by the maternal hormones (transmitted through the umbilical cord during pregnancy). They usually go away on their own, after a few weeks, when hormone levels drop.

Of course, it is important not to squeeze or rub the baby’s pimples, since you could cause damage and injuries. What you can do is wash her face with water and baby soap. Also, if you use a moisturizer, it is important that it is not very greasy

Infant acne

These pimples usually appear in newborns at two or three months of life, and can remain up to a year and a half. In this case, these baby bumps are reddish, but black and white spots can also appear, very similar to adolescent acne. They almost always appear on the cheeks.

The cause of these pimples is not very clear, but it seems that genetics is the main protagonist in this case. Also, infant acne can be persistent and scar. Pediatricians can sometimes prescribe creams with benzoyl peroxide, which reduce bacteria, or erythromycin, antibiotics that reduce inflammation. And, only in very serious cases, they prescribe oral antibiotics.


These are heat rash, prickly heat, or sweat rash that appear on the baby’s face. They usually appear in the first weeks of life, and disappear around the second month of life, without leaving marks or scars.

They usually appear on the face, especially on the cheeks, nose, chin… And, in very rare cases, they have appeared on the penis and legs of children.

These pimples are like an accumulation of fat or sweat on the baby’s skin, an obstruction of the pores, so these baby pimples do not require any treatment, neither cream nor ointment. They arise due to the immaturity of the sweat glands, which in the first months become clogged, retaining sweat.

They usually appear because we tend to wrap our children too warm. In summer it is very common for them to appear after a day at the beach.

Baby’s Toxic Erythema

It is a benign skin rash. Sometimes they can look like insect bites. They are small red bumps surrounded by redness and are usually very numerous. They appear in the first hours of life, distributed throughout the body, except on the hands. They disappear on their own around ten days.

The cause of these pimples in babies is not clear. It is an inflammatory process that affects a large percentage of newborns, and it almost never occurs in premature babies or babies weighing less than 2,500 grams. But, as we have mentioned, they are benign pimples. So they don’t need any specific treatment, just a lot of hydration.

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Rash Diseases

There are few cases in which we must be alerted by the pimples of a baby. Some cases in which it is important to provide medical attention quickly are, for example, if our baby has lumps under the skin (especially in the middle of the skull or face, or on the spine vertebral).

Wound pimples that bleed will also need special attention, as well as those that do not disappear in a few days or weeks and are accompanied by other wounds.

There are other types of virus or bacteria-related disorders, such as chickenpox, measles, and other rashes that appear in the form of blisters, such as neonatal herpes or impetigo. Most of the infectious diseases that children have in the first years of life present with rashes. In certain types the rashes are very characteristic, and in others they are not so typical. The most frequent are scarlet fever, infectious erythema, hand-foot-mouth disease, sudden rash, rubella, measles…

It is essential to go to a professional for the treatment of these cases.

Consult A Pediatricia

In any case, it is good that you consult with your pediatrician to solve these questions about pimples in the baby. The personalized indications of a professional who knows your case and who has experience in the matter are essential for the good care of our baby’s skin. Although the pimples of a baby, in the vast majority of cases, are not worrisome, you should consult with your doctor if you have doubts, questions or concerns.

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