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?

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.

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

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

Why my baby have bumps on his face since he was born they still on there

Mostly, my acne is on my nose, chin,and cheeks. I’ve been really embarrassed about it because it looks really bad, especially under makeup. I’ve tried to conceal it with different products, but really in the end nothing worked. I am no stranger to Noxema, Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, and St. Ives. While lots of them have helped in clearing up excess oil and a few of the blemishes, nothing really got rid of the redness. The only products that got rid of the redness was the Citrus Clear Sensitive Wash and the Citrus Clear Moisturizer. It cleared up the excess oil so well and the best part of all it got rid of the redness! I now am acne free using just Citrus Clear products and and have no redness whatsoever. I would really recommend this product to anybody who suffers from acne.

Thank you Dr Greene for a good parent friendly summary of baby acne which my month old has quite badly. Lots of people on websites quote cures that have worked. But of course it is a self limiting condition so difficult to know. Unbelievably PEDANTIC comments though! THE GRAMMAR IS CORRECT, THE POST WAS IN RESPONSE TO A BOYS PARENT!!! Do mums have nothing better to do than make misplaced foolish comments!

Nailed it, I’ve searched the web for clues as to what could be happening to my little girl and nothing came close to describing my situation. She began at three weeks and seems to have entered an almost colic phase, the break out was just a nightmare, what more could a first time mom have to worry about it seemed like there was no end to my list.

Great article but please correct the first word….it should be Too. ?

No it should be “to”.

The beginning is correct!

You need to go back to fourth grade and study your grammar. You’re incorrect.

Sorry but your correction is incorrect. If you’re going to be the grammar police, you better make darn sure you’re correct.
Thank you Doc for the clear explanation! My 3 week old’s perfect skin just got a little crazy. This makes me feel much better.

Hi Judy,

Interesting comment. I believe the sentence is correct as Dr. Greene wrote it:

“To many parent’s dismay”. “To” is refers to “parent’s dismay”, not “too many parents”.

Readers, help us out here. Which is correct?

@MsGreene
Mom, Co-founder DrGreene.com, not a doctor

I use healing balm by honest company with coconut oil in it and it seems to help. I also use pure cotton burp cloths to put under her head wherever I lay her such as swing, car seat, ect. It has cleared it up in a couple of days!!!

How old was she ?

My son is 7 months and has bumps all over his face that won’t go away is this just baby acne? Or could it be something more?

My daughter is 1 month old. I am a bit worried. Two days after my last visit to her pedia, red bumps appear on her cheek, especially worse on her neck. I also noticed scaly and rough patches on her left ear, chin, and nose. Her pedia only gave her dexipan cream, but still no progress.

My 7 month old little boy has small bumps all over his body. You can’t really see them, but you can feel them. My parents told me they thought they may be milk bumps?

My daughter has red bumps or acne on her face and it is going onto her arms and back slowly making its way down her whole body. Is it still acne?? Im scared :/

This is helpful but I hate how it’s written for a male only. Why didn’t you just say “baby” instead of “son?” Lame.

It was written in response to a women with a son. You can see her initial question at the top of the page.

You’re lame. Put down your SJW banner for a sec, and you might notice that this is in response to a question about someone’s SON.

Who cares?

Because he was responding to the original poster- who has a SON.

Very nice article. I simply searched your article and wished to say that I have truly loved surfing around your posts. After all I will be follow in your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

My baby is 6 weeks, she has developed a rash (not sure if it’s baby acne) around her face/ears and scalp…..it seems to get worse when she’s hot or I take her out on a sunny day (we live in California)….I’m becoming quite concern with her condition, her doctor hasn’t seen her but said that if she hasn’t developed other symptoms it might not be of a concern….is there any info you can share?
Every product I use on her is hypoallergenic (detergent/baby wash/shampoo) is it possible that it might be the formula?

My five month old baby has red bumps all over his face. I don’t know what’s causing it. I wipe his face a lot because he drools. He’s a breastfed baby so I don’t know if it’s the milk. Any advice is appreciated.

My son is one month old and his face is breaking out. I have No clue what kind of soup time use and he do be hot sometimes. Do I take of most of his clothes? Is Johnson and Johnson baby lotion and soap OK for me to use?

kiaira,i used to use johnson lotion and soap and my son was worse,use bar soap and pure veseline if no change stop using the lotion and leave him like that

Kiaira, one-month old is a classic age for baby acne. Gentle cleansing with warm water and perhaps a mild baby soap is usually the best. I don’t know what brands are available where you are, but look for one that is fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic if possible (babies have more sensitive skin than adults). Babies do tend to feel heat and cold more than adults as well. If it seems hot, it’s fine to take off most of the clothes (as long as the baby is protected from the sun).

My daughter is 19 months old. At birth her skin was clear and at 3mos. she would get an occasional tiny red bump that appeared on her face every once in a while which could disappear almost as fast as it came. Since she’s been 14 months old (Since February) she has been receiving a consistent cluster of red bumps on her face (cheeks, nose, around eyes, and around mouth) They would appear to clear at certain times and start up again. I notice sometimes when she gets highly upset more may appear. I took her to a pediatric dermatologist 1.5 months ago, and he thinks it was caused by the various antibiotics that her pediatrician placed her on while having reoccurring ear infections which she has had since about the age of 3 months up until she tubes placed in her ear in April at 16 months. He said that they just have to work their way out of her bloodstream and the bumps will continue to come until then. He prescribed a cream for morning and another for evening to put on her face. It help to clear the bumps that were there, but seemed useless as we can’t prevent new ones from coming. Since she eventually started getting light spots in the areas that the topical creams were used, I decided to stop the creams for right now and just wash her face hoping that will clear in the near future. I’m tired of people talking about how pretty she is and following up with “what is that on her face? Does she have the chicken pox?”

That sounds frustrating, Romondia. It may be worth a follow-up visit to the pediatric dermatologist report back what has worked and what hasn’t (as well as mentioning the light spots where the cream was used).