Acne in Babies, Children, Teens, and Adults

It's typically thought of as a teen problem, but acne can appear at any age, from birth to well into the adult years.

Acne is treated differently depending on what age it appears. Find out how and why acne happens at different stages of life, when to start treatment or let it be, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Acne in Newborns (Neonatal Acne)

Newborn baby crawling suffering from acne
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Bet you didn't think you'd have to deal with breakouts this early, right? Although moms and dads are often taken aback when their little one develops pimples, they aren't uncommon in newborn babies.

Newborn baby acne, also called neonatal acne, occurs within the first six weeks of life. Some babies even make their appearance ​in the world with a few pimples.

Although it's not true acne vulgaris, newborn baby acne causes red bumps and pimples on baby's cheeks, nose, and chin.

Newborn baby acne isn't serious and usually clears up on its own within a few short weeks. There's no reason to treat it. Of course, if you're at all concerned, talk with your baby's healthcare provider.

Baby Acne (AKA Infantile Acne)

Infant having cream applied to pimples
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There's another type of "baby acne" called infantile acne. It happens in older babies, after six weeks of age.

Infantile acne isn't as common as neonatal acne, so if you're noticing pimple-like breakouts on your little one you'll want to bring it up to the healthcare provider.

Although most cases of infantile acne aren't a big deal and will clear up without treatment, in some cases your baby's healthcare provider might want to check for an endocrine disorder.

Some infants may develop more severe papules, pustules, and nodules. Unlike newborn baby acne, severe infantile acne is treated with acne treatment medications (under your healthcare provider's supervision, of course).

Acne in Children (Ages 1-7)

Toddler with acne inside of crib
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Acne in this age group is very rare and warrants a call to the healthcare provider.

First, are you sure that what you're seeing is really acne? There are other skin problems that cause acne-like breakouts.

Heat rash and folliculitis, for example, both cause red bumps that can be mistaken for pimples. Anytime your child has a rash you're not sure about, call the healthcare provider.

If your child really does have a case of acne vulgaris, especially if it's widespread or severe, your child's healthcare provider will probably want a full workup done, possibly even a referral to an endocrinologist. This is especially true if your child has signs of early puberty.

Acne in Preteens (Ages 7-12)

Preteen girl looking in mirror at a pimple
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You may think your eight-year-old is too young to have acne, but it's perfectly normal for kids in this age group to have the beginnings of acne. As puberty starts, so does acne.

Acne breakouts at this age are usually mild, mainly blackheads and comedones with ​an occasional pimple. Starting an over-the-counter acne treatment now is a good idea.

One thing to keep in mind here; preteens that develop acne early often get more severe acne during the teen years.

If your preteen has acne, keep a close eye on their skin. If you aren't seeing good results with an OTC product, you should also talk with a healthcare provider such as a pediatrician or, ideally, a dermatologist.

Teen Acne

Young woman at home
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Hormones really start raging during the teenage years, and so does acne. It's completely normal, but that doesn't mean teens have to live with it.

There are so many good acne treatments available, so nearly every case of acne can be controlled. It's just a matter of finding which treatment works best for you.

Start with an OTC acne product, preferably one that contains benzoyl peroxide. If this doesn't work, make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Depending on your skin, your healthcare provider may prescribe a topical treatment, oral medication, or a combination of the two.

Adult Acne

woman popping pimple
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Adults get acne too. Adult acne is caused by the same things as teen acne, primarily, hormones. This explains why women tend to break out more often than men.

Those treatments you used as a teenager might not be the best choice for adult breakouts, though. Unless your acne is very mild, OTC products won't do much good.

The better option is to see a dermatologist. You'll get faster results with prescription medication.

A Word From Verywell

No matter what your age, acne isn't something that you have to live with. With the right treatment, your acne can be cleared.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Skin care for your babyPaediatr Child Health. 2007;12(3):245–251. doi:10.1093/pch/12.3.245

  2. Samycia M, Lam JM. Infantile acneCMAJ. 2016;188(17-18):E540. doi:10.1503/cmaj.160139

  3. Eichenfield LF, Krakowski AC, Piggott C, et al. Evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric acne. Pediatrics. 2013;131 Suppl 3:S163-86. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0490B

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Adult acne.

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.