What Is Baby Acne?

Baby acne, also known as neonatal acne, is a skin condition that affects newborns. It occurs in approximately 20% of babies between the ages of 0 and 28 days. This article will delve into the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options.

Baby acne is a condition where neonates or newborns either have or develop pimples or blemishes on their face and body. It is a harmless condition that typically resolves on its own without the need for treatment.


Baby acne, also known as neonatal acne or neonatal cephalic pustulosis, is a very common and temporary skin condition that manifests as acne, blemishes, or pimples on your newborn's face or chest. It can also include small bumps on their skin and typically lasts for a few days to a couple of weeks. It's important to differentiate baby acne from infantile acne, which occurs between the ages of two months and one year, whereas neonatal or baby acne occurs before the two-month mark. Infantile acne should be shown to a healthcare provider. Baby acne usually appears between two to five weeks of age and does not leave any scars.

Causes of baby acne

The exact cause of baby acne is unknown, but it has been determined that it is not caused by an infection, even though it may present as pus-filled spots, nor is it an allergic reaction. Various theories have been proposed, including the possibility that it could be a normal effect of the baby's immune system. Another theory suggests that it may be a result of inflammation caused by yeast on the baby's skin or overactive oil glands stimulated by hormones encountered in the placenta during pregnancy. Additionally, there is no correlation between cases of baby acne and whether the baby is breastfed or bottle-fed.

Signs and symptoms of baby acne

Baby acne appears as small red to purple or white bumps, which may or may not be filled with pus. These bumps are typically surrounded by a red to purple or dark brown ring and commonly occur on your newborn's cheeks, nose, eyelids, chin, and/or forehead. Occasionally, this acne can also appear on the baby's scalp, neck, or upper trunk. There are no blackheads or whiteheads present, and the acne may become more noticeable when the baby cries. The signs and symptoms can manifest suddenly or develop gradually, initially appearing as small discoloured dots on the skin before evolving into raised pimples.

Management and treatment for baby acne

There is no specific treatment for baby acne as the rash typically resolves on its own without intervention. However, there are ways to manage this condition, which include:

  • Gently wash your baby's skin with warm water. Avoid scrubbing their skin and instead, pat it dry
  • Avoid the use of lotions, oils, or products that may clog the pores on your baby's skin
  • Promptly clean up any food residue or vomit from your baby's skin after they make a mess


A healthcare provider will typically examine your baby's skin to make a diagnosis, and testing is usually not necessary. This condition is generally harmless, and it is not necessary to seek a diagnosis from a healthcare provider unless you have concerns about additional symptoms.


How can I prevent baby acne?

There is no particular way to prevent baby acne however there are ways to help it clear up such as: 

  • Gently wash their skin at least once daily with warm water
  • Cleaning up any residue on your baby’s face when they’re finished eating
  • Not use greasy skin care products on your baby’s skin
  • Not squeezing or popping pimples on your baby’s skin

How common is baby acne?

Up to four or five in every ten babies develop baby acne and statistics show that it may be more common in full-term newborns, between 37 and 40 weeks of pregnancy, compared with premature babies. 

When should I see a doctor?

You should contact your baby’s healthcare provider if their acne does not clear up after a few weeks or if they experience symptoms such as blisters, peeling skin, fussiness, a fever or feeding difficulties. 


Baby acne is a completely harmless condition that is common, temporary and does not leave any scars. However, if you are concerned about its impact on your baby's skin or observe any other symptoms, it is advisable to contact your healthcare provider.


  1. Is that acne on my baby’s face? [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 2]. Available from: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/baby-acne 
  2. Silverman RA. Pediatric dermatology, 4th ed. L.A.Schachner and R.C.Hansen, eds., Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2011, ISBN 9780723435402. Pediatric Dermatology. 2014;31(4). doi:10.1111/pde.12325 
  3. Acne [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 2]. Available from: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/acne/diagnosis-treatment-and-steps-to-take
  4.  RA; S-TCCG. Neonatal and infantile acne vulgaris: An update [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2023 Jun 2]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25101339/
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Vaidehi Chauhan

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBBSBachelor, UCL

Vaidehi is a medical student at University College London and enjoys writing about medicine. They have written for medical magazines and are currently interning as a medical writer at Klarity. Their goal is to make medical information easier to understand and help people learn about health through their writing.

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