All About Newborn Acne

baby lying down with newborn acne on her face

Newborn acne? Wait, I thought acne was for teenagers? 

To my disappointment, my son had acne with little red pimples all over his cheeks that started when he was 3 – 4 weeks old. He was as perfect to me as ever! But, I was curious what was causing my newborn to have acne and anxious for it to go away. Like every other new parent, I wanted to take millions of pictures of my baby to send to friends and family and the acne was an unwelcome interruption. 

So, what is newborn acne?

About 20% of newborns have what is called neonatal acne, which are small inflamed bumps on the skin. It usually appears on the face (chin, cheeks, forehead and eyelids) neck, chest, and or back at about 2 weeks of age. However, it can develop any time before 6 weeks. Sometimes, a baby is born with acne. Newborn acne is a temporary condition that resolves on its own without scarring.

What causes newborn acne?

Your newborn still has maternal hormones in their system for the first few weeks after they’re born. We don’t know the exact cause of newborn acne, but researchers believe that these maternal hormones can cause acne to develop on your baby’s skin. Hormones in the placenta during pregnancy can also overstimulate the oil glands on a baby’s skin prior to delivery. This may then cause acne after birth. Additionally, because pores in a newborn’s skin don’t completely develop until after birth, babies may be susceptible to developing acne from external irritants.

How can I treat it?

Although there are no treatments necessary for newborn acne, there are a few things you can do to care for your baby’s sensitive skin.

  • Use gentle laundry detergent for your baby’s bedding to keep it clean. Laundry soaps can often leave a residue that may irritate your baby’s delicate skin. 
  • Gently wash your baby’s face daily with warm water. Alternate between using plain water one day and water with a mild soap the next.
  • Avoid using lotions, ointments or oils on your baby’s skin. 
  • Don’t pick! Picking or scrubbing could create more irritation to the skin. It’s best to let the acne heal on its own. 
  • Avoid any medicated skin products unless directed by your pediatrician. These can actually worsen the situation. 

Can I use breastmilk to treat it?

Although your baby’s breakouts will clear up on their own, many mother’s swear by breast milk as a treatment for newborn acne. Soak a cotton ball or pad in breast milk and softly pat it on your baby’s face. The natural ingredients in your breast milk may help to clear up your baby’s skin. 

When should I worry about my baby’s acne?

If your baby develops acne after six weeks of age, you may want to schedule a visit with a pediatric dermatologist. Infantile acne (different that newborn acne) typically presents itself between 3 and 6 months of age and usually settles down within a few months.

In conclusion, newborn acne is totally normal and painless for your baby. A little bit of baby acne will not take away from how darling your baby is. Like teenage acne, baby acne is just something that can happen while growing up. Have faith it will pass and keep giving those cheeks plenty of kisses.

Also check out: Cradle Cap: What It Is & What To Do

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading