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If you dealt with acne in your adolescence (*raises hand*), you undoubtedly celebrated when it finally cleared up. In addition to your no-more-pimples party, you probably also assumed the days of skin woes were now planted firmly in your past. Sure, you figured that one day, when you had kids, you might have to fight the good fight against zits with your own hormonal tween. What you may not have planned on, though, was your newborn baby suffering breakouts.
Yep, that’s right; your precious babe might give you pre-teen flashbacks. Since this isn’t a warm and fuzzy fact about new parenthood, it’s a lesser-known reality of those first few days and months after baby comes home. So, in the spirit of keeping things real, here’s everything you need to know about baby acne and how to treat it.
What is baby acne?
Much like the acne you may have suffered as a teen (and perhaps even beyond), baby acne consists of tiny red or white bumps or pimples. They can pop up anywhere on your newborn’s body and are considered a common skin condition. In fact, it’s estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of newborns experience this little puberty preview.
When does it present?
According to the Mayo Clinic, baby acne often develops within the first two to four weeks after birth. It may develop any time before six weeks of age, though. Some babies are even born with it! This type of acne is also known as neonatal acne. When baby acne develops after six weeks of age, it’s referred to as infantile acne.
What are the signs and symptoms?
You’ll likely recognize the condition when you see it, especially if you ever experienced acne yourself. It presents as small red or white bumps that spread across baby’s cheeks and nose. The breakouts may also pop up on your little one’s scalp, forehead, chin, neck, back, or chest.
With baby acne, white pustules (or whiteheads) may develop. With infantile acne, blackheads are common. Later-stage acne might also include cysts or nodules.
What causes baby acne?
Alas, baby acne is a bit of a mystery. However, some researchers suspect it could be caused by a fetus’s exposure to maternal hormones during pregnancy that are still circulating in baby’s system. Another theory is that baby’s skin is simply extra sensitive and prone to clogged pores.
How long does baby acne last?
Fortunately, these pesky little pimples aren’t usually a long-term problem. Baby acne tends to go away on its own within a few weeks to months. Infantile acne may last longer, stretching into your child’s second year of life — but it’s much less common.
How do you treat baby acne?
In two words, you don’t. Well, usually. “Because baby acne typically disappears on its own within several months, no medical treatment is usually recommended,” explains the Mayo Clinic. “If your baby’s acne lingers for much longer, your baby’s doctor may recommend a medicated cream or other treatment.”
You definitely don’t want to try any over-the-counter medications without consulting your baby’s pediatrician. The last thing you want to do is exacerbate your cute little bubela’s skin woes even more. What you can do is keep baby’s face as clean as possible by gently washing it with warm water every day. And no matter how many Dr. Pimple Popper videos you’ve watched on YouTube, do not squeeze the bumps on your baby’s face!
When should you speak to a doctor?
As with all things baby-related, it’s best to consult with their pediatrician anytime you have a concern. Generally, you can just make a note to bring it up at the next well-baby visit. But if your baby’s acne is characterized by blackheads, inflammation, pus-filled cysts, or pain, go ahead and call the pediatrician ASAP. They might want to rule out an allergic reaction, rash, or other skin conditions.