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The Bump Editors

Can I Treat Baby Acne?

Find out why baby has acne already and if there's anything you can do to treat it.

You might be surprised to find that baby's newborn skin isn't perfectly pink and smooth as expected. In fact, some babies develop baby acne, which is characterized by red bumps on the cheeks, chin and forehead, and can appear anywhere from birth to 3 months of age. You may also see white bumps that resemble whiteheads on the same areas. If these disappear just weeks after birth, they’re called milia. Though milia are confused with acne, they're actually just dead skin that’s trapped in small pockets on the skin’s surface. They can also appear inside the mouth, and when they do they are known as Epstein’s pearls.

Clearly baby’s bumpy skin isn't the result of binging on pizza or fries! So where did it come from? Well, it's linked to hormones. While experts haven't found any specific reasons why babies get acne, they do know that the big culprits are the hormones baby inherited from you during pregnancy. According to Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Children's Medical Group in Atlanta there's unfortunately no way to prevent baby’s bumps. It may be tempting to treat them like you would your own breakouts but that's a huge no-no. Never try to use any of your adult acne treatments on baby and keep your hands off (no pinching or popping!). Instead, wash baby’s face one to three times a day with warm water and always pat dry. Do not use extra soaps or lotions. While it should clear up by 4 to 6 months of age, if baby’s acne refuses to tame, talk to your doctor about other possible treatments. And keep in mind that baby acne is extremely common in newborns and does not indicate future skin problems (whew).