It’s possible. Acne usually begins in one’s teen’s, but some babies have acne. Here’s what parents should know.
Newborn acne is generally nothing to worry about
About 20% of newborns have a type of acne called neonatal acne. You’ll usually see it at about 2 weeks of age; however, it can develop any time before 6 weeks of age. Sometimes, a baby is born with acne.
If your newborn has acne, you’ll usually see breakouts on your baby’s cheeks and nose. Acne can also appear on a baby’s forehead, chin, scalp, neck, back, or chest.
Neonatal acne is generally nothing to worry about. It rarely causes a scar and tends to go away on its own in a few weeks to months.
Acne is more worrisome after 6 weeks of age
When acne develops after 6 weeks of age, it’s called infantile acne. This type of acne is likely to begin between 3 and 6 months of age.
If your baby develops acne after 6 weeks of age, you’ll want to see a board-certified dermatologist or pediatric dermatologist. This can be helpful for several reasons. You can:
- Make sure it’s acne: It’s less common for acne to begin in a baby after 6 weeks of age, so you want to make sure your child really has acne. Other skin conditions can look like acne. Your child could have a skin infection or eczema.
- Rule out something going on inside your child’s body: When acne begins after 6 weeks of age, it can be a sign of a health problem. A skin exam and sometimes a blood test or x-ray is needed to rule this out.
- Find out if a skin care product is causing the acne. Some babies get acne from an ointment or oil that’s found in products used on their skin.
- Prevent permanent acne scars. While newborn acne rarely causes a scar, infantile acne can cause permanent acne scars. A dermatologist can help prevent scarring.
While a dermatologist should examine a child who develops acne after 6 weeks of age, this type of acne often clears on its own. Clearing usually takes about 6 months to 1 year. Some children, however, have acne for a longer time. It’s possible for acne to continue through the teen years.
Never apply acne wash or any acne treatment to your baby's skin unless a dermatologist recommends it.
Caring for acne on your baby’s skin
If your baby has acne, dermatologists recommend that you:
- Never put acne medicine or acne wash on your baby’s skin, unless your child’s dermatologist or pediatrician recommends it.
- Be very gentle with your baby’s skin, and avoid scrubbing the acne.
- Wash your baby’s skin with lukewarm (not hot) water.
- Stop using any oily or greasy skincare products.
A dermatologist can tell you when to treat your baby’s acne
Seeing acne on your baby’s skin can be worrisome. A dermatologist can tell you whether you need to treat it. When acne requires treatment, you can rely on a dermatologist’s expertise to treat your baby safely.
Eichenfield LF, Krakowski AC, et al. “Evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric acne.” Pediatrics. 2013;131 Suppl 3:S163-86.
Serna-Tamayo C, Janniger CK, et al. “Neonatal and infantile acne vulgaris: An update.” Cutis 2014;94(1):13-15.
Zaenglein AL and Thiboutot DM. “Acne vulgaris.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:500.