A Parent's Guide to Newborn Baby Acne

Learn What Causes Baby Acne and What Should Be Done About It

Baby with acne
princessdlaf/Getty Images

Your sweet little newborn's soft skin suddenly becomes covered in small, red pimples — and you freak out. What's happening to your baby's face?

Don't Worry, Mom and Dad. Newborn Baby Acne is Common

Despite how alarming it may look to new parents, newborn baby acne is super common. And, don't worry Mommy and Dad, it's also a harmless condition.

Newborn baby acne typically appears within the first month or so after birth, although it can occur earlier or later.

Some babies are even born with a mild case of baby acne.

The best news is newborn baby acne is fleeting and nearly always goes away quickly and without treatment.

This is What Newborn Baby Acne Looks Like

Newborn baby acne, also called neonatal acne, looks remarkably similar to the acne you may have had during your teenage years. Your baby might have clogged pores (called comedones), red papules and possibly small pustules.

In some babies, newborn acne looks like a rough, bumpy red rash. It's most common on infant's cheeks and nose, although it can appear anywhere on the face. Your baby may even break out on her back and shoulders.

Baby acne may come and go over the course of several weeks, and tends to look worse when baby is fussy or crying.

If you suspect your baby has acne, you should check with your pediatrician just to be certain. Many other skin conditions common in infants, such as eczema and heat rash, can resemble baby acne.

The Causes of Acne in Newborns

Baby acne develops during the initial weeks after birth, most likely due to hormones passed from mother to infant during the last stage of pregnancy. These same hormones can cause acne during pregnancy and acne after giving birth for mom too.

Since baby's skin is delicate, baby acne can be aggravated by milk, formula, or spit-up coming in contact with the skin.

Rough fabrics or fabrics laundered in strong detergent can also irritate delicate skin and make baby acne look worse.

If your newborn has acne, don't use soap, lotion, or creams on his face. These can irritate acne, too.

Certain medications, viral illnesses, and allergic reactions can also cause an acne-like rash. So if, for example, your infant develops a rash or acne-like breakout after being sick or taking a new medication, let your doctor know right away.

Treating Your Baby's Acne

Unless your baby's acne is being caused by an underlying condition, there is really no need to treat it. Newborn acne doesn't harm your baby in the least, and is purely a cosmetic issue

In extremely rare cases, severe baby acne is treated with topical acne medications. But this should only be done if there is a compelling reason to do so and only under the recommendation of your child's doctor since acne medications are hard on infants' tender skin.

Newborn Baby Acne versus Infantile Acne

It's important to note there's a significant difference between acne in a newborn and acne in an older baby.

Infantile acne appears in babies older than 2 months of age. It's not nearly as common as newborn baby acne but it's much longer-lasting, lasting from a few months to several years.

Just like with newborn baby acne, infantile acne typically is harmless and goes away on its own. But, in some severe cases it cause scarring and may be treated with prescription medications. If your baby is older and developing acne, bring it to the attention of your pediatrician.

Treatment Tips for You and Your Newborn

1. All your baby's skin really needs is a gentle wipe down with plain water once or twice per day.

2. Don't use soap on your baby's face and don't scrub. Cleansing that is too frequent or too vigorous will irritate your baby's tender skin.

3. Remember, nearly every case of newborn baby acne goes away without treatment in just a few short weeks.

Bring it to your pediatrician's attention, but don't let acne worry you.

4. Your sweet little one is lovely and absolutely perfect, even with a few pimples. Enjoy your new baby!


Eichenfield LF, Krakowski AC, Piggott C, Del Rosso J, Baldwin H, et. al. "Evidence-Based Recommendations for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Pediatric Acne." Pediatrics 2013;131:S163.