Neonatal Acne

Neonatal Acne is one of the many minor conditions that may be present at birth or may develop shortly after a child is born. Know all about the causes, prevention and treatment of this type of acne.

What is Neonatal Acne?

It is a form of acneiform eruption which occurs in neonates and infants. It is commonly seen on the nose, adjacent portions of cheeks and around the eyes. Such eruptions are commonly seen in babies aged only a few weeks. These go away spontaneously within a few months.

The condition is referred to by several other names including Acne Neonatorum, Neonatal Cephalic Pustulosis and Acne Infantum. The disease should not be confused with the neonatal disorder Benign Cephalic Histiocytosis.

Neonatal Acne Causes

The eruptions results from a combination of factors, some of which are present at the time of birth. Some of these develop due to exposure to the outside world. Know about some of their possible causes:

  • It is believed that sometimes, some hormones of the mother leak into the placenta and affects the sebaceous glands. This triggers the acne breakout.
  • Unhealthy and improper diet during pregnancy can lead to Acne Neonatorum. A fatty diet followed by the mother during this time increases the chances of the baby having the condition.
  • After delivery, hormonal transfusion at the time of breastfeeding can cause these eruptions.
  • Using harsh ingredients for bathing and cleaning the baby is another risk factor. Acne Infantum may also occur due to use of rough cloth to bath a baby.
  • Using strong detergents to wash the baby clothes, which can also trigger the condition.

Neonatal Acne Symptoms

Small red pimples occurring mainly on cheeks are the most important sign of the condition. The eruptions also commonly occur on the nose, chin and forehead. Whiteheads may or may not be present. The condition may worsen for some time if the affected skin area gets wet from spit-up milk or saliva and if it comes in contact with clothes washed with harsh detergents.

Neonatal Acne Diagnosis

The diagnosis can be done by examining the acneiform rashes on the skin of the newborn child. The location of the rashes helps to confirm the diagnosis as the eruptions in this condition occur mainly on the face and the scalp. Usually, no additional diagnostic tests are required for this purpose.

Neonatal Acne Differential Diagnosis

A few other disorders affecting newborns can be easily mistaken for Neonatal Acne. These include:

  • Miliaria rubra
  • Milia
  • Infantile acne

The differential diagnosis should aim at making sure that the difficulties experienced by sufferers are those of Neonatal Acne and not of any of the aforementioned disorders.

Neonatal Acne Treatment

Baby acne generally does not require any special treatment and medication as they resolve spontaneously within a few weeks or months, without leaving any scar. In some rare cases, however, the rashes refuse to go away and last for months or longer. The parents should consult a pediatrician if the baby has such a stubborn case of Acne Infantum. Doctors may recommend using some medicated creams containing retinoid and other keratolytic agents to cure the eruptions. The condition can also be treated with benzoyl peroxide. The antifungal medication Clotrimazole (brand names Canesten and Lotrimin) is another possible treatment option.

Over-the-counter medications should never be used for getting rid of Acne Neonatorum without consulting the doctor first. Certain over-the-counter solutions can be harmful for the delicate skin of babies.

Neonatal Acne Home Treatment

Home treatment and natural remedies help in accelerating the recovery process. Following are some information regarding the home remedies:

  • Cleansing the baby’s face gently with a mild baby soap and water once a day can help to keep the acne under control.
  • It is advisable to pat the baby’s skin to dry it after every wash to take care of the rashes.
  • Applying a small amount of coconut oil, especially after a bath, on the affected skin may be beneficial for the baby.
  • A honey and lemon solution containing 1 teaspoonful of honey and the same amount of lemon is believed to be useful for reducing baby acne.

Neonatal Acne Prognosis

The prognosis is excellent in almost 100% of the cases as the rashes go away completely without leaving any visible scar on a child’s face. Neonatal Acne does not indicate that a baby will have severe acne during his or her adolescence and adulthood. Due to this reason, a child with this condition during infancy may never have acne in his or her life again.

Neonatal Acne Prevention

It is not possible to prevent the occurrence of these eruptions due to their uncertain etiology. However, one can easily prevent them from getting worse by following certain measures:

  • Mothers should avoid following a diet consisting of fat rich foods as it may increase the risk of acne in their unborn baby.
  • Care should be taken that no rough material comes into direct contact with the skin of a baby, as it may trigger the acne after birth.
  • It is important to use fabric softener for reducing the harsh texture of clothes in order to prevent the onset of Acne Neonatorum or to keep the condition from aggravating.
  • One should consult the doctor to find out which baby lotions and creams are best for an infant.

Neonatal Acne Pictures

These are some images showing how these eruptions look like.

Picture 1 – Neonatal Acne


Picture 2 – Neonatal Acne Image

Neonatal Acne is a condition in which newborn children develop acneiform rashes mainly on his or her facial skin. This skin problem usually goes away without any treatment and does not recur is a child. Home treatments are important to keep the acne from becoming worse.

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