Baby acne is not uncommon, but it often catches new parents off guard. It appears like “the usual” acne – red bumps, some with white heads. What causes a baby to get acne? Is there anything you can do about it?
What Causes Baby Acne?
The exact cause of acne is tricky to pinpoint with any age. With babies, acne, if it occurs, shows up from 2 to 4 weeks of age. It is usually attributed to hormonal shifts and surges that occur in the womb and during childbirth. These hormonal changes and shifts affect baby’s skin for weeks after birth.
In rare instances, baby acne can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance or disorder.
Other possible causes include irritation from detergents, spit-up, or that ubiquitous baby drool.
Some experts suggest that baby acne may indicate allergies, particularly allergies to foods such as dairy products or soy. These substances can reach babies through the mother’s milk or in formula.
Will It Go Away?
Baby acne can last up to six months, with breakouts flaring and subsiding. You might notice that baby’s acne flares when he or she is sick or teething. It will eventually go away; in the meantime, here are some treatment options.
What Can I Do About My Baby’s Acne?
If you suspect a hormonal imbalance or problem – such as baby acne that goes on for months – you will need to discuss treatment options with your doctor. For baby acne that is not the result of hormone problems, here are some common and alternative treatments.
Note: Experts warn not to put any adult acne treatments on baby’s skin, such as retinoid creams, benzoyl peroxide, or medicated cleansers.
* Topical treatments – Most of the time, babies with acne just need a gentle wash twice a day, either with plain water or with a mild soap. If the acne is severe, your doctor may prescribe a gentle, medicated topical treatment that is intended for babies.
There are some natural treatments you can employ, too. If breastfeeding, applying some breast milk to the affected areas with a cotton ball may help. Some plain yogurt mixed with a little honey – 1/4 teaspoon of honey per 2 tablespoons of yogurt – makes a gentle, probiotic cleanser for baby’s skin. If possible, rinse baby’s skin with filtered or distilled water. Tap water may have harsh chemicals that might worsen the problem.
* Dietary considerations – If you’re a nursing mother, consider cutting out dairy and soy products to see if your baby’s skin improves. You can also try eliminating citrus fruits.
If you feed formula, you might seek out a hypo-allergenic formula that is not dairy or soy-based. * Of course it’s important to get advice from your pediatrician before cutting out any essential foods from your diet while breastfeeding.
* Environmental adjustments – Baby’s clothing, bedding, and toys should be washed with mild, hypo-allergenic detergent. Brightly-colored fabrics may contain irritating dyes, so natural fabrics are probably best to avoid allergic reactions.
Babies need some fresh air and sunshine, too – health professionals point out the benefits of moderate sun exposure for baby’s health. And fresh air is good for everyone’s skin.