According to the Mayo Clinic, baby acne is simply another type of newborn rash that is common and temporary. Infant rashes are noticeable changes in your baby's skin that can be troubling. They can appear when the baby is a few hours old or a few months old. These rashes have simple treatments and cause babies little or no discomfort.
According to DrGreene.com, newborn acne (or baby acne) can happen soon after birth, as early as two to three weeks. Newborn acne happens because in the final stages of pregnancy, the mother's hormones cross the placenta into the baby, stimulating oil glands, says the Mayo Clinic. This rash presents as red or white bumps on the baby's forehead, temples or cheeks. Treatment is simple: Keep the area clean and dry, and avoid acne products, as they could damage the tender skin. This temporary condition causes no discomfort for the infant and leaves no scarring.
Newborn acne can be difficult to distinguish from other baby rashes. Looking at the types and colors of the bumps will help determine the differences. Milia is a common baby rash that can be mistaken for baby acne since it also presents on the face. But milia presents as white bumps, not red. Baby eczema is another common rash that may initially present as red bumps just like newborn acne; however, red patches will also appear with baby eczema. These patches may ooze or crust over and can become a bit uncomfortable for your baby.
Baby acne has a specific cause (maternal hormones) and shows up a few weeks after birth. Milia has a specific cause as well: skin flakes trapped on the surface of the skin, says the Mayo Clinic. Often babies are born with milia, or it can begin to appear within hours or days after birth. Infant eczema can result from irritating substances such as perfumes, lotions or bubble baths. Eczema usually shows up between 1 and 5 months of age, says Shari Nethersole of Children's Hospital in Boston.
Milia and baby acne commonly show up in the same place: the face. Milia will present as tiny white bumps on the nose, cheeks or chin. Baby acne will present as red or white bumps on the forehead, temples or cheeks. Although eczema sometimes affect only the face, leaving both cheeks with red bumps and red patches, it can become quite diffuse for some babies, affecting the whole body.
Newborn acne and milia are treated in a similar fashion: Keep the areas clean and dry. Cleansing the area daily with a mild soap and water is enough. Just like newborn acne, milia will disappear on its own in a few weeks. Using lotions or creams for these types of rashes is not recommended, says the Mayo Clinic. Always avoid scrubbing or pinching the bumps. Some babies will outgrow infant eczema, while others continue to experience issues with this rash. Baby eczema can become troublesome if it lingers, and it may require a visit to the pediatrician and a steroid medication.