What is Baby Acne?

Question

My one-month-old son's cheeks are very rough. It looked at first like a rash. There are small bumps that are sometimes red and irritated looking, and other times it looks very clear, but the roughness is still there. Is that a rash or is it baby acne? Is there something I can do to treat it?
Beckie Huckle - San Bruno, California

Dr. Greene's Answer

To many parents’ dismay, their beautiful newborn’s face breaks out with red bumps. One of the most common causes for red bumps on an infant’s face is baby acne. It tends to occur at about the same age as the baby’s peak gas production and fussiness. How attractive! (This all coincides with parents’ maximum sleep deprivation.) Parents are often quite concerned both about how these bumps look and about their significance.

In baby acne, these bumps, are quickly fleeting evidence of the connection between your body and your son’s. During the final moments of your pregnancy, your hormones crossed the placenta into your son. Among other things (such as maturing his lungs), this stimulated the oil glands on your son’s skin, eventually giving rise to the baby acne.

Fleshy or red pimples can be present at birth, but typically appear at 3 to 4 weeks of age. They occur predominately on the cheeks, but are also quite common on the forehead and chin. Whiteheads are sometimes present. This condition tends to come and go until the baby is between 4 and 6 months old.

The acne will be most prominent when your son is hot or fussy (increased blood flow to the skin), or when his skin is irritated. If his skin comes into contact with cloth laundered in harsh detergents, or becomes wet from saliva or milk that he has spit up, the condition may appear worse for several days.

Gently cleanse his face once a day with water, and perhaps a mild baby soap. Oils and lotions do not help, and may aggravate the condition. If the acne is severe or lasts beyond 6 months, your pediatrician may prescribe a mild medicine to help.

Otherwise, you can expect that the rash will soon be a memory. The oil glands will disappear, and you won’t see the acne again until you turn around once, and he’s a teenager. This time the acne will be evidence that his own hormones are turning him into a man.

Last medical review on: July 31, 2014
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

Hi, I am Morgan,
I have a newborn only 11 months old
I just found recently she got acne on her face
please let me know what can I do now?

Sakyra,

Thanks for writing in.

Is your daughter 4 months old or 4 years old? Either way, this does not sound like baby acne to me. Do you know she’s come into contact with others who might have had a virus? In my opinion, it would be worth a call to her doctor to discuss.

Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

My 4 month year old year old daughter face is red with water blisters, back of her legs is wet, stomach has red bumps

Sakyra,

Thanks for writing in.

Is your daughter 4 months old or 4 years old? Either way, this does not sound like baby acne to me. Do you know she’s come into contact with others who might have had a virus? In my opinion, it would be worth a call to her doctor to discuss.

Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

How old was she ?

Do you smoke or others that kiss your babies face that possibly have cigarette residue (chemicals) on their lips which in my opinion is causing a lot of problems in children. Face breakouts, supposed eczema behind knees where adults with cigarette residue grab babies she changing their diapers and normally ceases around age 2, why no more diaper changing. I came to the conclusion it was cigarette residue having kept my niece as a baby. When with her mother breakouts occurred on weekends and would clear up when she was with me during the week. Really red cheeks and I also believe acne is another symptom associated with kissing a child’s face after having smoked a cigarette. Have observed the changes that has occurred with my niece face legs for 10 years. Arsenic is one additive in cigarettes that can cause same symptoms as eczema, itching and bumps.

Sadaf,

It would be wise to have you baby examined by a physician. Your baby will likely need medicine to clear up this, painful sounding, rash.

Best,
@MsGreene

hello dear ! I am in much worried state as my son who is 14 months old has got red bump which get bigger with size and having puss in it at his one side of thigh…and yesterday puss was running out of it…that is very painful for him ….what it could be and I am seeing such little bumps on him head and belly too which GOD forbidden may become the same as older one. Please suggest what it is? please spare me if there is any grammatical mistake as English is not my mother/national tongue.

Sadaf,

It would be wise to have you baby examined by a physician. Your baby will likely need medicine to clear up this, painful sounding, rash.

Best,
@MsGreene

Paulette,

If you are using detergent that is not just for baby, consider changing, though the best brand may not be the one most commonly used for baby. We used 7th Generation Baby and it worked very well for us.

Best,
@MsGreene

My baby will be 6 weeks old and she has a rash on her face. I believed that it is baby acne on her face, ears and chin. I don’t know if its from being hot or the formula or even from being on detergent from adults.

Do you smoke or others that kiss your babies face that possibly have cigarette residue (chemicals) on their lips which in my opinion is causing a lot of problems in children. Face breakouts, supposed eczema behind knees where adults with cigarette residue grab babies she changing their diapers and normally ceases around age 2, why no more diaper changing. I came to the conclusion it was cigarette residue having kept my niece as a baby. When with her mother breakouts occurred on weekends and would clear up when she was with me during the week. Really red cheeks and I also believe acne is another symptom associated with kissing a child’s face after having smoked a cigarette. Have observed the changes that has occurred with my niece face legs for 10 years. Arsenic is one additive in cigarettes that can cause same symptoms as eczema, itching and bumps.

Paulette,

If you are using detergent that is not just for baby, consider changing, though the best brand may not be the one most commonly used for baby. We used 7th Generation Baby and it worked very well for us.

Best,
@MsGreene

No it should be “to”.