What you should know about Baby Acne

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Baby acne also known as Acne neonatorum is a skin condition that causes pimples breakout on baby’s cheeks, forehead, chin and sometimes on the back. The condition affects 20 percent of babies, mostly male. There are two types of Baby acne. One of the conditions is referred to as Popules and is characterized by small solid rounded red bumps or pimples. The other one is known as Pustules and is characterized by small whiteheads which contain pus. Baby Acne is caused by maternal hormones passed from the mother to the baby during childbirth. The hormones stimulate the baby’s sebaceous glands triggering secretion of oil which mixes with acne causing bacteria. The condition can be aggravated and becomes more pronounced when the baby is hot or is running a fever, when upset, and when the skin comes into contact with saliva or spit up milk or fabrics washed in strong detergents. Baby acne can also be sparked by medications that a nursing mother may take. Babies who are on medication also stand a high chance of acne infections.

Baby acne has no defined treatment and clears after a period of between four weeks and three months. Failure for it to clear within this period will call for a physician’s intervention. The best way to handle the condition is by washing the affected areas gently with plain water and/or with mild baby soap. It is important to note that dirt does not cause baby acne and therefore scrubbing of the skin is highly prohibited. Lotions, creams and moisturizers should be avoided as they only worsen the condition. In severe cases, benzoyl Peroxide and topical tetnoins, for example retinoids and other keratolytic agents may be recommended.

Baby Acne is most often confused with other conditions that affect the baby’s skin. These include Milia which is a condition caused by heat from warm clothing, excessive incubator warmth or fever. It is characterized by white bumps that develop during the first week of birth and it is rarely present at birth. The other condition is known as Infantile Acne. This condition is more severe than baby acne and develops 3 months or later after the baby is born. It is characterized by yellow pimples on the baby’s face, cheeks and nose. It is caused by lingering maternal hormones and disappears after twelve months but in some cases might persist until after three years depending on the baby’s genetic composition, that is, level of testerone hormones. This condition may recur during teenage years.

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