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How do you clear up baby acne?

The word ‘baby’ itself surely brings images of those cute and adorable babies in our mind. Babies often smell so nice that we may feel tempted to pinch their cheek or skin. However, we may start to feel worried or scared when seeing babies with red bumps on their skin. In this DoctorOnCall’s article, we will be learning about baby acne which may seem weird because we all know acne does occur to teenagers and adults but seems off for babies.

Baby acne, also known as infantile acne or newborn acne are a type of acne that develops in babies. About 20% of newborns have neonatal acne as it develops before the age of 6 weeks old and commonly seen when the baby reaches 2 weeks of age. When acne develops after 6 weeks of age, it is known as infantile acne. Infantile acne is likely to begin between the 3rd to 6th months of age. Infantile acne is much less common than newborn acne but it can last until a child reaches 2 years old. To avoid confusion, we will be using the term baby acne more frequently instead.

Newborns with acne are usually seen with breakouts on the cheeks and nose but it may also appear on the scalp, forehead, chin, neck, chest or back. Newborns with acne are nothing to be worried of as it rarely causes scarring and will clear in a few weeks to months. Baby that develops acne after 6 weeks of age should be considered an issue and parents need to get the babies checked by doctor or dermatologist to ensure if it is an acne or be caused by some other health problems and to prevent permanent acne scars. Doctors will also make sure other skin problems resembling baby acne such as skin infection, eczema and skin rash is eliminated. Clearing of infantile type acne takes about 6 months to 1 year but it is possible the acne stays even till reaching teenage years.

There is no known cause for baby acne. Experts think it might be an inflammatory reaction to a common type of organism of the skin known as yeast or might have been caused by hormones received while the babies are still in the womb. Medications while breastfeeding or baby taking medications can also trigger baby acne. The heightened sebaceous gland activity responding to normal levels of hormones circulating during pregnancy may make some babies prone to develop acne. It may also be caused by genetic predisposition. Skin products used on babies may be the cause for baby acne. Although there are many causes or theories that might be reasons behind baby acne, none is deemed to be the core evidence of the skin issues.

Baby acne is almost similar to acne vulgaris, a common skin condition among adolescents and adults with the presence of comedones. Comedones are skin-coloured, white or dark bumps that give skin rough texture. It is typically from excess oil and dead skin cells blocking the sebaceous gland that produce oil in the skin. What a doctor would find in baby acne is comedones on the baby’s face region, most commonly on cheeks. The severity of the baby acne is then assessed. In most babies with acne, no further tests are necessary to diagnose baby acne but if doctors suspect babies having baby acne with presence of other medical problems, screening tests might be suggested.

Treatment of baby acne is typically topical agents such as benzoyl peroxide or erythromycin. In severe cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed. Since not every baby acne case should cause great worries, parents or caretaker can treat baby acne on their own. Here are what you should do to help clear up baby acne:

  • Wash the baby’s skin with lukewarm water.
  • Stop using skincare products that are oily or greasy.
  • Gently wipe off spit-up and saliva from baby’s face as it can irritate skin.
  • Use unscented products on baby’ skin because fragrance or scent may worsen baby acne.
  • Dress the baby in soft fabrics.
  • Avoid scrubbing the baby’s skin.
  • Never pinch or squeeze the acne.
  • Do not use over-the-counter medicines and only use medications prescribed by doctors.

Even if it is true that baby acne is capable of going away on its own, it is certainly okay for caregivers to seek medical advice from doctors. Baby acne that is extensive on face and body should be worrisome and getting medical care can clear it up quickly. If baby acne does not seem to get better within several months, it is worth discussing it with doctors. Baby’s acne that becomes inflamed or filled with pus should be treated by doctors.

In essence, baby acne does clear up as time goes by. It can be frustrating for caregivers to see baby acne but with patient and soft touch, baby acne will go away. Baby acne may not lead to life-threatening events but it is important to take care of the baby’s skin and this revolves with the baby’s wellbeing and their future. Talk to local doctors if you have questions or enquiry regarding baby acne.

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