Newborn acne can be alarming and look painful. But when do you need to worry as a parent? Read more to understand when infant acne needs a professional’s opinion.
What is infant/newborn acne?
Infant or newborn acne is raised acne on a new baby, typically on the face, neck, chest and even back. It is very common and mostly looks similar to white heads, but can become red and painful looking on newborn skin. The good news is that newborn acne is typically harmless and clears up on its own without scarring. Milia are white filled pores that are different from newborn acne.
What causes newborn acne?
It’s not exactly clear what causes newborn acne in some babies and not in others. But think about this – our babies spend their entire lives before birth in amniotic fluid – which is a wet environment. Babies naturally produce a layer of a thick waxy substance called vernix (you may have seen this at delivery!) that protects their skin from being “water logged” so to speak. Once the baby is born, their skin reacts to being in a dry environment by overproducing oil to keep the skin from drying out, which may cause newborn acne. In other words, its a way for babies to adapt to this brand new environment!
When does newborn acne happen?
Typically newborn acne starts a week or so after birth. It can peak around 3-4 weeks. It typically goes way around 6 weeks. Of course, this can vary from baby to baby.
When should I be concerned?
Newborn acne does have an associated with a milk protein sensitivity/intolerance (MPSI) in babies (have you seen my reflux post?). But how can you tell the difference?Newborn acne that’s caused by MPSI is usually accompanied by:
- Mucousy stools
- Acne throughout the entire body
- Diaper rash
- Bloody stools
You should contact your provider ASAP if your baby is experiencing these symptoms. Your baby will need a speciality hypoallergenic formula and/or you may need to cut foods out of your diet if you are breastfeeding.If you are seeing:
- Crusty areas
- Swelling of the face, eyes
- Pus or lesions
- Your baby has a fever
Call your provider right away.
How can I cure it?
Most newborn acne not caused by MSPI clears up on its own in the first 6 weeks. It’s typically not painful, just hard for us as parents! DO NOT PICK THE ACNE! Newborn skin is so sensitive and prone to scaring. Make sure you are not using any lotions or soaps to the area as it can irritate the skin and breakdown the natural skin barrier even more. Use warm water and gently blot the area with a washcloth. Avoid wearing body lotion on your chest as it may transfer and irritate the area. Newborns have extremely sensitive skin! Stick to using “clean” lotions and other products on your precious baby.
Kate loves this Tubby Todd All Over Ointment (talk to your doc before using!) as it clears up skin and eczema in a flash!
For more info, visit the Mayo Clinic.
Have more questions? Schedule a text or video chat consult with Kate, Lauren or Natalie (NICU RNs) and they can help answer any questions that you have!
Helpful blog posts:
- Medicine Kit Essentials
- First Aid Kit Essentials
- Bath essentials and cradle cap remedy
- 10 common illnesses babies and kids get
- Kate’s 5 S’s of sleep for successful infant sleep
- 5 common nipple issues
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above