Infant acne, also called acne neonatorum, affects approximately 20 percent of newborn babies and is a common condition. Baby acne usually appears at birth or within the first few weeks after birth. This baby rash is believed to occur as a reaction to a mother's hormones reaching the baby through the placenta before birth or via breastfeeding after birth. The hormones cause the oil glands on the baby’s skin to produce bumps that resemble acne.
The condition of infant acne is found to be more common among boys than girls, and it is not painful or noticeable to the baby. Newborn acne typically appears as small whiteheads that might be surrounded by reddish, irritated skin. The appearance of the bumps might become more pronounced when the child or the skin is agitated. The infant pimples usually do not last more than a few weeks, but some babies will continue to have the acne bumps for as long as a few months.
Treatment for infant acne is not usually required, though there are options that will relieve itching and irritation for the baby. This baby skin rash usually dissipates by the time a child is a few months old or is no longer breastfeeding regularly. Newborn acne typically is most pronounced when the child is fussy or hot, because of the increased flow of blood to the skin. Skin irritation also generates more baby pimples, particularly when a baby becomes wet around the mouth area from milk or spit-up or when the baby has contact with clothing washed in harsh detergents. Some parents use oils or lotions to try to eliminate the bumps, but these treatments might agitate the condition further and typically should be avoided.
The condition of infant acne is a normal occurrence that usually will work itself out over time, but there are several things one can do to lessen or avoid the infant pimples. First, one should work to keep the area of the baby’s mouth and cheeks dry and clean. Parents should consider using a gentle, chemical-free detergent to wash clothing and should use mild baby soaps to wash the baby, especially around the mouth area. Parents will want to avoid oils, lotions or other topical remedies, because these can make the infant acne worse. One might also want to consider the formula used, because formulas containing soy milk contain ingredients that closely mimic hormones and might cause more baby acne.