Is It a Rash or Baby Acne?

If your newborn has acne, talk to your healthcare provider about which soaps, lotions, or creams are best to use, as some can cause irritation.

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:

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.

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Whilst it may be tricky for you to tell the difference, it’s often very easy for a doctor to see the difference, so if you’re unsure, drop you doctor a call.

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Baby acne on face often appears as a red, blotchy rash on your baby’s skin with little, raised spots called papules. Babies usually get spots on their face, often on the cheeks, nose and forehead.

Milia are caused by keratin from dead skin cells, accumulating just under the surface of the skin. In essence, they are tiny, benign cysts caused by a buildup of skin flakes. However, they do not require removal like some other types of cysts.

Most of the time, infantile acne resolves on its own, though it may take as long as a year.

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Written by Jessica Brown, a health and science writer/editor based in Nanuet, New York. She has written for Water’s Edge Dermatology, Prevention magazine,,, and many other outlets.

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Milia Treatment

Some conditions may resemble newborn baby acne.

The direct cause of newborn baby acne is unknown. It may be caused by high levels of hormones passed to your baby through the placenta, which could affect the production of sebum in the skin. When there is too much of this oily substance, it can clog pores.

If your baby develops infantile acne, it’s best to consult a pediatric dermatologist to make sure that your baby’s acne is not caused by an underlying condition or a certain skin product. But just like with newborn baby acne, infantile acne is typically harmless and goes away on its own eventually.

What You Need to Know About Milia and Baby Acne

Serna-Tamayo C, Janniger CK, et al. “Neonatal and infantile acne vulgaris: An update.” Cutis 2014;94(1):13-15.

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.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for baby acne is to leave it alone and let it resolve naturally. If it bothers you, however, there are a few home remedies for baby acne on the face. Keep in mind, however, that your baby’s skin is delicate and you should avoid using products or cleaning methods that might irritate it.


Baby Acne: What Is It, and What Causes It?

The best treatment for baby acne is often to leave it alone. If it gets worse, if it appears in an older baby, or if it happens after an illness or starting a new medication, talk to your healthcare provider. They will be able to look for conditions that might look similar to baby acne and prescribe medication if necessary.

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Home Remedies

If your baby has true acne and the dermatologist decides it should be treated, they may prescribe a topical acne medicine or, if the acne is severe, an antibiotic.

Infant acne looks more like adult acne. You might see whiteheads and blackheads in addition to solid bumps (papules or nodules) and pustules. Infant acne usually affects the face but can sometimes appear on the chest and back.

Is that acne on my baby’s face

Neonatal Acne: How to Identify and Treat Your Baby's Spots

Kisses are unlikely to cause baby acne. However, there are certain things that can irritate a baby’s skin if it touches them. A few examples of these include milk, formula, spit-up, and some soaps and lotion.

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Eichenfield LF, Krakowski AC, et al. “Evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric acne.” Pediatrics. 2013;131 Suppl 3:S163-86.

Zaenglein AL and Thiboutot DM. “Acne vulgaris.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:500.

Is It a Rash or Baby Acne?

Baby Acne: What Parents Need To Know

It is possible that hormones passed from you to your baby during breastfeeding could contribute to baby acne. However, baby acne should not be a reason to change the way you feed your baby. If you’re concerned, talk to your healthcare provider.

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Image of newborn acne used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

Image of baby being bathed, Getty Images

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