Baby acne


Baby acne — Comprehensive overview covers causes, symptoms, treatment of this newborn complexion problem.

Overview

Baby acne is a condition that causes small bumps on a newborn's skin — often on the face and neck. Baby acne is common and temporary. There's little you can do to prevent it, and it often clears up on its own without scarring.

Other names for this condition are infantile acne and neonatal acne.

Baby acne on different skin colors.
Illustration of baby acne on different skin colors. Baby acne often shows up 2 to 4 weeks after birth and clears up without treatment.

Symptoms

Baby acne is small, inflamed bumps on a baby's face, neck, back or chest. It often develops within 2 to 4 weeks of birth.

Many babies also develop tiny, pimple-like bumps on the face. These harmless spots are called milia. They disappear on their own within a few weeks.

Another condition that might be mistaken for baby acne is benign cephalic pustulosis (BCP), also called neonatal cephalic pustulosis. A bad reaction to yeast on the skin causes BCP.

None of these conditions is caused by the type of bacterium that causes acne in teens and adults.

When to see a doctor

Talk with a member of your baby's healthcare team if you have concerns about your baby's skin.

Causes

Baby acne is caused by hormones that the baby is exposed to before birth.

Diagnosis

Baby acne can usually be diagnosed on sight. No testing is needed.

Treatment

Baby acne often clears up on its own within several weeks to months. If the acne appears to have cysts or scars or is not slowly improving, your baby may need a prescription medicine.

Check with your baby's healthcare team before trying any acne medicines you can get without a prescription.

Self care

These tips are useful for caring for your baby's skin while your baby has acne:

  • Clean your baby's face each day. Wash your baby's face daily with warm water. Alternate between using plain water one day and water with a mild, moisturizing facial soap the next.
  • Dry your baby's face gently. Pat your baby's skin dry.
  • Don't pinch or scrub the acne. Be gentle, to avoid more irritation or an infection.
  • Avoid using lotions, ointments or oils. Such products can make baby acne worse.

Preparing for your appointment

If you're following a standard well-baby exam schedule, your baby will likely have an appointment soon. These regular appointments allow you to discuss concerns about your baby's health. For baby acne, some basic questions to ask at the appointment include:

  • Is my baby's condition likely temporary or long lasting?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What advice do you have for my baby's skin care?
  • Will this acne scar my baby's face?

What to expect from your doctor

To find out how serious your baby's acne is, be prepared to answer these questions:

  • Do you have a family history of bad acne?
  • Has your baby been in contact with any medicines that can cause acne, such as corticosteroids or iodine-containing medicine?

© 1998-2024 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. | Terms of Use