Most new born babies develop tiny blisters on their face, neck, and torso. About 70% of babies develop these, which is a condition known as baby acne. But what are these blisters and how can you treat them? Here is everything you need to know abput baby acne, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
What is baby acne?
Baby acne is common in new born babies and occur about two to four weeks after birth. It causes red or white bumps on baby’s cheeks, nose, forehead, and torso. They can even spread on legs, especially thighs. It may look similar to other baby skin conditions, but baby acne usually clears up naturally over course of time, without leaving behind marks. This condition hardly disturbs baby’s well-being and is quite harmless.
What does baby acne look like?
Baby acne often occurs as red bumps or pimples. Also, white pustules or whiteheads appear on baby’s skin leading to skin reddening. This type of acne occurs on face, cheeks, and back. It can worsen when your baby is crying. In addition, coarse fabrics as well as saliva can irritate baby acne.
You might also notice tiny white bumps on your newborn’s forehead, cheeks, and mouth known as milia. These are actually not baby acne but are dead skin cells trapped under the skin’s surface. They usually disappear in few weeks time. Unlike baby acne, this type of skin condition can cause skin issues later on. Hence, consult with a pediatrician because they can advice you on right course of treatment options.
Types of baby acne
There are two types of baby acne that can affect babies at two different stages:
1. Neonatal Acne
Neonatal acne can develop in newborns right after birth to three weeks. It is distinguished by red or pink lesions without a head. Neonatal acne predominantly occurs on face, especially cheeks. In most cases, it affects the scalp too. This mild condition does not cause discomfort to the baby because it is not itchy.
2. Infantile acne
Infantile acne occurs when baby reaches three to four months. This type of acne is more severe than neonatal acne since lesions get inflamed and form papules. The skin inflammation can also cause discomfort to the baby, and lead to skin itchiness.
Causes of baby acne:
There are no known causes for baby acne, and even medical doctors have not concluded their study on it. But there are few theories that list popular ones. Here are few of these causes:
Hormones are one of the contributing factors that lead to baby acne. It can get transferred from breast milk to the baby. Suppose a new born baby develops acne right after birth, then transfer of hormones from placenta in the womb can be a possible reason. In this case, breast milk can be the safest remedy to treat the acne as it is loaded with maternal hormones. But baby acne does not cause any skin problems and in fact said to improve baby’s resistance.
2. Skin Sensitivity
Baby’s skin is the most sensitive and therefore gets easily affected by sudden changes. Their outer skin layer is enveloped by epidermis and even a change in temperature or contact to a harsh material can easily affect their skin. But this theory does not explain why babies develop acne while other does not.
Baby acne can be caused by certain skin allergens. This can be allergy to certain food and medication. Other than that, skin hives and eczema are common reasons for allergic reaction. Although these allergies can seem similar, skin hives and eczema are dissimilar with baby acne. Rather, baby acne does not cause discomfort to baby.
Baby acne can be a cause of a yeast infection. This is spread through malassezia species which is a common type of yeast that manifest skin surfaces and create an inflammatory reaction in newborn babies. This can in turn result in baby acne.
Symptoms of baby acne:
Baby acne can usually appear on face, neck, chest, and in few cases, on the scalp. Here are few symptoms to watch out for:
- Red patches or blisters that cover a localized section or distributed to various body parts.
- Infantile acne is quite similar to adolescent acne as they show pustules. This type of acne is itchy and baby’s skin will be easily irritated.
- Baby acne appears as whiteheads or blackheads on forehead, cheeks, and chin. Other type of skin conditions like eczema appears on other body parts.
How long does it last?
Baby or neonatal acne usually lasts for a month and resolves without any scarring. In few cases, it can last for a few months, and then clear off without any medication.
Treatment for baby acne
Baby acne usually disappears without any treatment and is quite harmless. As mentioned above, babies can develop acne that last for few days, weeks, and months. To treat the baby acne, your pediatrician can prescribe what to use for baby acne. They can prescribe medicated cream or ointment to clear up the acne. However, make sure not to overuse the medicated acne treatment, face creams or lotions since baby’s skin is very sensitive at this stage. It can worsen the acne and cause additional skin irritation.
Home Remedies for baby acne
While waiting for your baby’s acne to heal, here are few remedies you can try on your skin to keep it as healthy as possible:
Keep baby’s face clean
Always keep skin clean to avoid baby acne on face. You can make use of warm water and a mild soap. Warm water can be gentle and soothing on baby’s skin. In addition, you can select a mild soap that can keep skin moisturized. You can consult your pediatrician in case of any doubt. This is one of the safest remedies for baby acne on face treatment.
Do not scrub
Baby’s skin is the most sensitive and therefore be gentle while cleansing. Do not scrub the skin with a towel as it can aggravate the skin further. Replace it with a soapy washcloth. Use the cloth over baby’s face in circular motions. Pat dry using the towel, once the soap washes off.
Avoid lotions or creams
Skip lotions or creams when baby’s skin is aggravated by acne. This can worsen the acne further.
Do not pinch or squeeze the acne. This can irritate your baby’s skin and worsen the problem further.
Do not panic over the baby’s acne. Though it might be concerning, it is normally harmless. The acne should resolve naturally in a short period of time.
Breast milk can offer the best nutrition for your baby. It is loaded with powerful antibodies that can keep baby protected from pneumonia and diarrhea. This can also protect baby from developing allergies. Breast milk also contains antibacterial agents and lysozyme enzyme that can inhibit microbial growth. Lactating mothers can also take their breast milk and apply it over the baby’s acne with cotton. This is a natural way of healing the acne without causing harm to the baby’s skin.
Medical remedies for baby acne
When you consult a pediatrician, they are most likely to prescribe a topical ointment comprising of compounds such as ketoconazole, benzoyl peroxide and hydrocortisone. Additionally, you can try few of the home remedies for acne treatment mentioned above.
When to see a doctor
Baby acne does not require any invasive testing. It is not harmful and should not concern you much. However, you can consult a pediatrician to correctly diagnose this condition. They can take a look at the blisters and if further study is needed, then the doctor will take the lesion scraping for further testing. Other than that, a blood test can be taken to determine the condition.
Here are few symptoms that you should show a pediatrician and not ignore:
- Acne is red and inflamed causing a clear discharge.
- Acne has yellowish heads with pus formation that occurs because of bacterial invasion.
- When baby experiences discomfort and itchiness.
- Baby acne accompanied by high fever and an indication of infection.
- Other skin problems that look like eczema.
Prevention and Tips
In view of the fact that baby acne has no particular causes, there are no suggestive preventive measures. However, you can follow these baby care treatments to maintain your baby’s soft skin. Here are few examples:
- Maintain a bath ritual ideal for your baby. Doing this can retain baby’s skin moisture and prevent bacterial infections. This also ensures to remove dead skin cells and control sweat.
- Make use of clean and comfortable clothes. Clothe your baby in fine, soft, and easy fabrics to prevent skin irritation. This can provide ample room for movement and allow plenty of air. If clothing is tight then babies can feel suffocated, especially during hot weather. This can even aggravate the skin condition leading one to seek medical attention promptly.
- Changing diapers frequently during the day is a must. Rashes and blisters can occur if baby is in contact with wetted diaper for long period of time. This leads to lack of moisture and ventilation.
- Keep baby’s skin dry or moist at all times depending upon the weather conditions. For example, if it is humid, then keep baby’s skin dry. Or if it is cold, then keep baby’s skin moist. Try to maintain both moisture and dryness. The premature skin of your baby is too sensitive to maintain moisture on its own. Hence, it requires your attention through proper care.
- You should avoid scratching, pinching, and poking the rash on your baby’s skin. Touching it can aggravate skin condition and can even require medical attention.
Conditions similar to baby acne
There are several skin conditions that have similar symptoms like red bumps or skin rashes. But these skin conditions should not be mistaken with baby acne or vice-versa. Here are few examples of the same:
1. Teething Rashes
These rashes commonly occur in babies when they are teething and are often accompanied by mild fever. But they are similar to baby acne and should not be mistaken for an acne breakout. However, these rashes are generally harmless and cause no harm to your babies. The fever that accompanies with these rashes usually subsides within few days and stops occurring once the tooth comes out.
2. Skin Hives
If a baby suffers from allergy to formula milk or other harmful food allergens, then your baby will develop an allergic reaction known as skin hives. This skin condition is similar with acne, but occurs all over body. Skin hives disappear once the allergic symptoms subside.
Miliaria is often referred to as prickly heat and is common amongst babies residing in humid environments. This skin condition is developed when the body’s sweat glands get blocked due to excessive sweat accumulation in the duct. This can result in red bumps that occur on forehead, neck, and chest. Miliaria is treatable with topical ointments as prescribed by pediatrician.
Milia are small whitish bumps that can occur around various body parts. They can occur because of keratin accumulation in the duct of sweat glands. Milia is completely harmless and appear of their own accord. It can disappear in due course of time.
One of the best ways to prevent baby’s acne is to be attentive and take good care. Acne is never harmful, and if there are complications, you can always visit a pediatrician to get a confirmed treatment.
Do you have something or an experience to share about your baby’s acne? Leave us a comment in the box below.
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