Baby acne is a very common problem with newborns and infants. You must have seen newborns with pimples on their chin. They look very similar to teenage acne and can be present at birth or show up after a couple of weeks. You can spot them as white or red bumps or pimples with a slightly reddish skin around it on the cheeks, the forehead, the chin and sometimes, even the back.
Baby acne can be aggravated if the baby’s skin becomes irritated with saliva, spat-up milk, and rough fabric due to a strong laundry detergent. However, every blemish on a newborn’s face isn’t always necessarily acne. There is also a condition called milia which is characterised by tiny white bumps that appear at the time of birth and disappear within a few weeks and they are no way related to acne. If the irritation is more rash-intense or scaly than pimply, or appear elsewhere on the newborn’s body, then the condition could be cradle cap or eczema.
There is no clear answer as to what the exact cause of baby acne is unlike teenage acne. Expert opinion attributes it to the hormones that babies receive from the mother at the end of pregnancy which could be a possible cause but the opinion is still divided. Sometimes, the trigger factors of baby acne could be certain medications that the baby or the nursing mother takes. Or it is quite possible, the newborn is reacting to a baby-care product applied externally on the skin, especially with an oil-base which can block pores.
Baby acne is not something very serious and alarming though visually, it may not be very pleasing. It usually clears up within a few weeks though it can also linger for months. If it does not clear up within 3 months and the parents are concerned or worried because the condition is lasting and severe, they may consult a paediatrician or a dermatologist who will counsel and prescribe mild topical medications to clear the acne. Baby acne that is persistent is also a gentle clue to newborn parents that the newborn may grow up and deal with acne as an adolescent.
Parents usually worry about the baby’s skin and complexion when tackling baby acne. The regime is pretty simple –
- No over-the-counter medicines
- No scrubbing. Remember baby acne is not caused by environmental factors and lifestyle habits like dirt and food habits. Too much scrubbing and washing can further irritate the skin of the baby and annoy the baby.
- No oily creams and lotions, and powder on the baby’s skin. It is a myth that oiling and lathering up with creams and lotions will clear the acne. These can make the acne worse actually.
- Basic and simple washing of the face twice daily with very mild soap and water, and gentle patting dry should suffice for the baby.
Last but not the least, parents need to exercise patience. As long as baby acne does not bother the child, parents need to underplay it.