Baby Acne: Everything You Must Know!

Sought out baby photographers can be a challenge to book. You have got the date of your shoot, have the adorable outfits, managed to semi-do your own hair and then look at your precious babe. What the heck is that all over her face?

Probably, baby acne. Baby acne can hit overnight around 2 or three weeks of age. Around 70% of babies get some degree of it. The scientific term for baby acne is called Erythema toxicum neonatorum. It comes on quickly, appears to almost come and go within days or even hours. They look like tiny white-headed blisters or papules surrounded by reddened skin. You will see it on his cheeks, forehead, neck and sometimes chest. Some babes even have it down their arms and legs. It does not cause your baby any discomfort- but can be hard to look at as a mama! Especially if you have a newborn photo shoot!

What causes baby acne?

At the end of your pregnancy, some of your hormones cross the placenta and through to your baby. These hormones activate oil glands in your baby’s skin- which after this, will remain inactive until puberty.

What can you do to help it?

• If you aren’t sure what it is, take him to your health care provider to rule out any other skin conditions, like eczema. If the rash is accompanied by any other symptoms, such as lethargy, irritability, a fever or cough or if you are at all concerned, take him in to get checked.
• Resist the urge to pick at the acne or pop any pustules. This will irritate his skin, and will leave his skin open- increasing the risk for the acne to get infected.
• Avoid using harsh soaps or laundry detergent – there are some that specifically market to be for babies. These can have a strong baby powder scent. Use the scent free soaps and detergent as an alternative as they will be less irritating.
• Keep his face clean with a soft cloth and water. Pat dry.
• New babies often scratch at their face, which can irritate the acne. Keep mittens or socks on his hands to ensure he doesn’t scratch himself.

How long will it last?

Baby acne can be hard to look at in your little one, but the best remedy is usually to watch and wait. It will come and go anywhere for 2-6 months. Heat can often exacerbate the acne- after feeding it can look reddened from the heat of being close to mom. Crying can do the same thing. Warm summer days can also make it worse. Keep your baby cool and dress in soft, non-irritating clothing.

Breastmilk can soothe the redness. Express milk onto a cotton swab and gently pat on your baby’s acne. Avoid any creams or over the counter acne treatments. Your baby’s skin is very soft, and thinner than adults and these treatments can irritate and potentially damage her skin.

So, if the photographer will be there in an hour and her face is looking reddened, feed her right away to give her time to cool down from the heat she was exposed to while nursing. Don’t touch the acne, just let it be! And know that every baby photographer understands baby acne and with the right lighting and touch ups, she will help you minimise the acne in the photos. And it always looks worse to mama! As always, if you are at all concerned about your baby please take her to your health care provider!