Acne neonatale

Neonatal acne or ;acne neonatorum; it is a common skin condition that occurs in more than one in five healthy newborns. It typically begins around two weeks of age, but can be present from birth, with small bumps and pustules on the baby’s forehead, cheeks, eyelids, and chin. It affects more than 20% of healthy newborns.

Neonatal acne is generally nothing to worry about. It rarely causes a scar and tends to disappear on its own in a few weeks or months.

Symptoms

Baby acne is manifested by rashes on your baby’s cheeks and nose. Acne can also appear on a child’s forehead, chin, scalp, neck, back, or chest.

Cause

Acne in children is attributed to transiently elevated androgens of maternal origin and transferred via the placenta, or to neonatal adrenal or testicular androgens. Both of these conditions resolve spontaneously with decreasing androgen levels during the first few months of life.

These maternal hormones stimulate the baby’s sluggish oil-producing glands, causing pimples to appear on the chin, forehead, eyelids and cheeks, and sometimes on the head, neck, back and upper chest.

When does it appear and how long does it last

Neonatal acne usually begins at 2 to 3 weeks of age and affects about 20 to 40 percent of all newborns. Luckily it’s temporary and won’t bother your baby.

How to treat it

Because baby acne typically goes away on its own within several months, no medical treatment is usually recommended.

Some advice for the parent:

  • avoid scrubbing acne
  • clean the area with warm water twice a day and gently pat the skin dry.
  • do not use soap or lotions on the affected areas.
  • do not use skin care products intended for adults.
  • do not use oily skin care products
  • in case of doubts, before taking any initiative, talk to your pediatrician

Baby acne, unlike childhood acne, doesn’t leave permanent scars like the adult version can, and it doesn’t predict future teenage acne problems.

Acne or rash?

There are also a range of rashes and other skin conditions in newborns – which, unlike newborn acne, are often itchy and uncomfortable for your little one and tend to spread beyond the face. Some of the most common:

  • sweat dermatitis (sudamine). Sweat dermatitis can occur in the presence of high temperatures and humidity, other external occlusive agents or abnormal perspiration. It appears on the cheeks, neck, shoulders, belly, but also between the large skin folds of the armpits, groin and behind the knees and elbows.
  • diaper rash. It appears as red, irritated skin in the baby’s diaper area i.e. the genital and buttock area. There is not a single form of diaper dermatitis, but many different forms that have in common only the site in which they occur.
  • seborrheic dermatitis. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that manifests itself with reddened skin often covered by yellowish-white scales that usually have a greasy appearance. It occurs in the newborn especially on the scalp and resolves spontaneously within the third month of life
  • baby eczema. Skin affected by atopic eczema is more vulnerable to external aggressions and reacts by becoming inflamed:

When to worry

Baby acne almost always goes away on its own without any intervention. But bring it to your pediatrician’s attention if the bumps appear to be infected; for example, your skin looks very red, you notice swelling or discharge, your baby has a fever or other symptoms, or you suspect an allergic reaction or eczema, which may need cream to stop the rash from spreading.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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