Baby acne can appear shortly after birth until about six months old, with the most common time around 3 to 6 weeks old. Baby acne looks similar to teenage acne, appearing as red and yellowish bumps on the face. It can even appear red and inflamed if your baby has coexisting cradle cap (aka seborrheic dermatitis) on the eyebrows or around the nose.
What causes baby acne? First of all, acne in adults, teenagers, or babies is influenced by common factors such as oils, bacteria, and hormones. It is thought that a mother’s lingering hormones combined with the baby’s own oils can drive baby acne. This is why baby acne is worse during the first few months of life.
If you see baby acne, don’t panic. It will usually go away on its own and it doesn’t cause babies any discomfort. Normally baby acne will last for one month, but it can linger for up to three months. Here are a few do’s and don’ts on how to handle a breakout:
- Do: Gently cleanse your baby’s face without soap using a soft baby washcloth around the eyebrows and nose. If desired, you can use a gentle cleanser with your fingers, taking care to avoid the eyes. Baby Pibu’s 2-in-1 Bathtime Wash is a gentle cleanser and is tear-free.
- Do: Use over-the-counter (OTC) 1% hydrocortisone cream twice daily for one day if you need your baby to look less red right away. This is good for photo opps and Grandma visits.
- Do: Know that other conditions such as cradle cap and eczema on the face can make a baby’s acne appear much worse than it is. Know that this is ok and that your baby is fine.
- Do: Continue breast feeding as usual, as your baby’s acne should clear up on its own within a month’s time. Don’t worry about any additional hormones from breast milk.
- Don’t: Try to scrub away the acne. Physical scrubbing can actually create more aggravation and more redness.
- Don’t: Do not use OTC adult acne medications such as benzoyl peroxide. These adult topical products may cause significant irritation to a baby’s delicate skin that leads to more redness and worsening of the condition.
Now you know that a baby’s acne will go away in about a month and is caused by hormones and natural oils on the skin. Don’t worry, it won’t last forever and your baby’s skin will be back to its beautiful self in no time.