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Infant Acne

By Heather Owens

When we picture a baby, we tend to have a stereotyped image of a pink, glowing little face that is almost overwhelmingly cute. The last thing we think about is pimples. And yet, the reality is that infant acne occurs on the faces of many babies. Usually it starts between three and four weeks of age, but sometimes it can even be present in newborns.

infant-acne.jpgIt can be a little distressing for the parents to see little red bumps all over their precious baby’s face, but the good news is that infant acne is temporary, and doesn’t require any treatment. However, it can stick around for a little while, and may only disappear gradually. It’s quite possible that infant acne may come and go spasmodically until the baby is six months old.

I remember very well when my daughter broke out in infant acne at the tender age of three months. Her previously cute and adorable face was dotted with little red bumps, and even a good collection of whiteheads. I found it quite distressing, and so asked my doctor to tell me more about infant acne.

The doctor was very patient and helpful, and explained a lot more about this skin condition. I hadn’t realised that the baby still had hormones in her system, that had crossed over while I was carrying her, via the placenta. Infant acne is to a great extent visible evidence of the hormones still being active, but it also shows that the baby is in the process of working the hormones out of her system for good.

In many ways, the baby’s skin is simply going through a cleansing process, as the baby’s system cleanses itself of the unwanted hormones. Different babies respond in different ways (many of them you wouldn’t even be aware of), and one way is infant acne. It’s all part of a natural process in the baby’s system, and there’s really nothing we, as parents, can do to stop it. In fact, it’s important to let the process continue to the end, otherwise the baby’s system may struggle to remove all the excess hormones.

Unfortunately many parents think that infant acne is caused by dirty or oily skin, and so wash baby’s face more frequently to get it clean. This is actually one of the worst things you can do, as frequent washing may well result in the skin becoming inflamed. So remember that it’s hormones, not oil or dirt, that’s the problem. Detergents, milk and spit-up can make acne worse, so although you don’t want to overwash the baby, it’s important to mop up any spills quickly. Use a mild detergent, and make sure baby’s face is always uncovered. Even your baby’s favorite blanket can aggravate infant acne, if it’s been washed in a strong detergent and is constantly held against the face.

All of this can seem a little disheartening, particularly if you are keen on photographing your baby’s gorgeously cute smile with your camera at every opportunity. If your baby gets infant acne, you can expect to have that beautiful smile surround by little red dots for up to six months. But it’s not worth worrying about – who’s going to look at the acne when your baby’s smile will completely outshine it?

About the Author:
Discover heaps more great parenting tips and techniques at
Info About Baby You can sign up for a FREE Baby Tips newsletter at Baby Tips Newsletter. The author’s book about babies is available at Baby’s First Year.

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4 Comments on "Infant Acne"

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6 years 8 months ago

Thank’s for the helpful info!!!

7 years 2 months ago

Helpful article. We had thought it was caused by all the kisses we have been plastering on my 4 wk old’s cute face!

7 years 3 months ago

thank you for this husband though it was because of skin on skin contact caused th acne. it is really bad on one side only

7 years 6 months ago

I’m glad I found this article, my daughter is worried about her
6 week old’s acne. I had told her to wash her face 2x day with mild baby soap and keep her out of the sun. Even in the car. She does wash her clothes in Dreft det. So thanks, I can now tell her why she has the acne.

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