Most of us associate acne with the emotionally painful teenage years. We get our first pimple around age fourteen and it’s all downhill from there. Adolescents struggle with their blemishes on a daily basis, using every over-the-counter treatment they can get their hands on and protecting their cover-up cream like it’s their life support. Acne during adolescence is extremely common, but there is another life stage in which acne is less common but certainly a possibility. Sometimes, babies are born with acne on their faces.

The reason babies are born with acne is not entirely known by experts, but there is a good chance its hormonal. When adolescents get acne, it’s mainly because their bodies are starting to produce more oil, which clogs their pores and causes swelling. Obviously, a newborn baby doesn’t have clogged pores from sweat and oil, but he is certainly pumping with the hormones that were being produced by his mother. Women in the last stages of their gestation also get a lot of acne in some cases, so the same hormones causing the acne maternally might be affecting the newborn baby. Some experts also attribute the newborn acne to the medications a woman is taking during her pregnancy, but the types of medications have not been determined.

Usually the acne appears on a baby’s cheeks, chin, or forehead. It will probably go away after a few weeks. If it doesn’t go away within three months, you should speak to your doctor about treatment. Never try using an over-the-counter acne treatment on your baby, as you could seriously scar his or her skin for life. Treatments designed for adults are harsh. Avoid scrubbing his or her skin, since it will cause further irritation and make the acne look even worse. Instead, wash your baby’s face gently with mild soap, and trust that the acne will go away. Your baby is not bothered by it and it’s completely harmless.

If your baby has acne, remember that it’s harmless and that it will go away over the next few months. Always check with your doctor if it’s accompanied by other symptoms or becomes more pronounced, because it could be a rash and your baby might need a different type of treatment. With or without acne, you will look back on your baby pictures fondly, so don’t worry about it too much and be patient as it fades.

Source: Lawrence Eichenfield et al: Pediatric Acne Management: Pediatric Outcomes. Global Academy for Medical Education September 2011