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A baby with small acne on the face and body

How to Get Rid of Baby Acne

Dr. GauravVerified

Board Certified Pediatrician

MBBS, MD, DNB (Pediatric)

7,958 positive ratings
Acne vs. Milia

Infantile acne is often confused with another condition called milia. Milia is small, whitish bumps caused when dead skin cells get trapped.

Baby acne, or neonatal acne, is red bumps that appear on the face or upper torso and is more common in heavier babies. These bumps do not usually appear on the arms and legs. This is harmless to the baby and no treatment is needed.

Causes of baby acne

There is no known cause of baby acne. However, the hormones a baby is subjected to during pregnancy can cause an abundant amount of sebum in pores. It is possible that babies with an abnormal immune system or sensitive skin with  inflammation are more susceptible to acne.

Babies can be rarely born  with acne or it could more commonly develop within a few days to weeks. Once acne appears, it can last for a few days to several months. Acne can also reappear many times after it goes away. Using precautions and paying attention to your baby’s skin will determine how long acne will last.

Treating baby acne

In most cases of baby acne, no specific treatment is needed, once your pediatrician has confirmed that this is indeed simple acne.

It is not advised to pinch or pop these pimples as they can be painful, can cause an infection or leave scars on your baby’s very delicate skin. Natural home remedies are the safest way to treat baby acne.

Home remedies

Coconut oil is a natural oil you can apply directly to your baby’s skin. It has natural antimicrobial properties and it is the safest way to treat acne. First, clean your baby’s skin with mild soap and water, then dry. Apply a thin layer twice a day. This can also be used for acne prevention.

Breast milk contains natural acne fighting agents such as lauric acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and glyconutrients. These agents also exfoliate the skin gently. Apply by gently rubbing a small amount of your breast milk onto baby’s skin with a cotton pad and let it dry. Repeat this method as often as necessary.

Lemon juice and honey are naturally anti-inflammatory agents. The mixture of the two is safe effective for delicate skin. Do not use lemon juice by itself as it is too acidic. Mix together a small amount, roughly two parts honey to one part lemon juice, and test on a small area of your baby’s skin. If there is no skin reaction, gently apply over the infected area. Leave the solution on for approximately 30 minutes, then gently wipe away with a warm wet cloth.

A cornstarch mixture being applied to a baby's skin

Cornstarch is a natural substance which dries out the acne. This should only be used once a day so baby’s skin will not dry out too much. Use ½ teaspoon of cornstarch and mix with warm water to make a paste. Apply a small amount of paste to the area. Allow drying for 45 minutes, then gently wipe away with a warm, wet cloth.

Baby powder is commonly used for diaper rash. It uses either talc or cornstarch to dry the affected skin out, but does not clog pores. Take a small amount of the powder and apply to the area. Only apply to face using fingertips and gently rub in. The powder may be left on the skin until bath time.

Sugar is a natural exfoliate. Using a mixture of sugar and coconut oil, or olive oil and applying to your baby’s skin gently can get rid of acne. Wipe off with a warm damp cloth following application. Remember to be gentle and not rub too vigorously.

Oatmeal is effective at soothing irritated skin. However, it is not recommended to use on your baby’s face since it can get in their eyes. Oatmeal is safe for all other parts of the body for many different types of rashes. Using a blender, blend 1/3 cup of oatmeal until it becomes powder. Mix the oatmeal powder in warm bath water and mix until it is blended. Let your baby soak in this bath mix for 10 minutes. Do not leave baby unattended. Do not rinse off. Simply pat your baby’s skin with a clean, soft towel.

Vinegar has natural antibodies and absorbs oil buildup on skin. However, it is harsh on delicate skin and should never be used undiluted. Vinegar should be diluted using 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and gently blot on affected area. Let dry for one minute before washing off with mild soap and water.

Medical Treatment

When baby acne becomes infected, causes the child pain, or is long lasting, seek medical care. There are times when prescription medication is needed to combat infantile skin conditions, such as eczema or allergic reactions. Eczema, a form of dermatitis, is when patches of skin become very dry and rough.

A picture of Aquaphor for babies

Your pediatrician may suggest an over-the-counter product such as Aquaphor, Eucerin etc., mild creams used to sooth irritated skin. Sometimes use of a mild steroid cream may be recommended by your pediatrician to help clear the acne faster. Rarely, prescription topical antibiotic creams or even prescription oral antibiotics may be required in cases of complications like infections.

Prevention and skin care

Keeping your baby’s skin and toys clean and dry is the best way to prevent acne from occurring or getting worse. This prevents bacteria from growing and spreading. Always wash new clothes before letting your baby wear them. Always use clean towels when drying baby’s skin. The following are some helpful tips to use as a preventative method for your baby’s skin care.

Two young kinds, both acne-free, tussling on a bed

  • Bath time – Avoid long baths or over-bathing your baby if a rash or acne is visible
  • Wash bedding – Prevents unwanted bacteria and germs
  • Avoid harsh lotions – Even ordinary lotions used on babies can irritate already irritated skin
  • Switch laundry detergents – Your laundry detergent may be too harsh for delicate skin. Use mild, scent-free detergent.
  • Watch your diet – If you breastfeed, the things you eat or drink can affect your baby’s skin. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily will help keep you hydrated, and renew your baby’s skin cells when you breastfeed.
  • Wash toys – Keeping the baby’s toys clean prevents unwanted bacteria from growing and getting on baby’s skin
  • Do not use over-the-counter acne medicines – These are formulated for adult skin and could make the acne worse
  • Never scrub – Your baby’s skin is very sensitive and should never be scrubbed
  • Wipe drool – Always try to keep the skin clean and dry
  • Limit contact –Touching the affected area will spread the bacteria causing more acne
  • Dress infant properly – Dressing the baby in loose, comfortable clothing can prevent rashes
  • Be patient – If the acne is not infected or painful to your baby, leave it alone; it will go away over time.

Treating and preventing baby acne is a simple process and can be done using home remedies. Sometimes babies may need to see a pediatrician if the bumps become infected. Always ask a Medical Expert before using any treatment on your baby’s delicate skin. Baby acne is a common problem and goes away on its own.

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