Baby acne, otherwise referred to as acne neonatorum or neonatal acne, is a very common condition prevalent in newborns. It is believed that over 20% of all newborns are affected by baby acne. The condition is characterized by the presence of red bumps or pimples on the newborn’s forehead, scalp, and particularly the cheeks. Another common indication of this condition is a rough patchy skin, with whiteheads, pustules, and blackheads.
Many people tend to confuse baby acne with the zits and acne that affect teenagers during puberty or one that affects adults. Baby acne, as the name would suggest is mostly found in newborns and will normally be evident within a few weeks after birth. Baby acne mostly affects the face, chest, behind the ears, and sometimes on the scalp. There is a very widespread misconception that baby acne is caused by un cleanliness, i.e. not keeping the baby clean enough. Another school of thought is of the opinion that baby acne is caused by breast milk and the whole process of nursing a new born.
Baby acne is basically caused by a mother’s hormones that came into being during pregnancy. Allegedly the hormones cause acne by over-stimulating a newborn’s oil glands on the sebaceous gland, thus triggering the appearance of the bumps and unsightly pimples. Baby acne isn’t a serious issue since the moment the hormones stabilize things will get back to normal. As such, it requires no medical attention or the use of harsh medications. It is even believed that using lotion or cream on the affected areas can worsen the condition. The best course of action when your baby is suffering from baby acne is to wash the affected areas with warm plan distilled water and then gently pat dry; avoid rubbing too hard or scrubbing as you might irritate the delicate skin of a new born.
With that being said, there are so many widespread misconceptions and myths about baby acne, some of them include:-
1. Baby acne is similar to teenage or infantile acne. This isn’t true at all since infantile acne affects babies who are above 3 months old.
2. Baby acne can show its ugly face anytime in the course of childhood. This is another myth since baby acne only affects infants who are 3-4 weeks old. There some newborns who will even show signs of baby acne immediately after birth. Baby acne symptoms may appear and disappear intermittently as the infant grows.
3. Baby acne is caused by nursing and poor hygiene. As previously mentioned, there is enough evidence to believe baby acne is caused by hormones the mother releases during pregnancy. The hormones, which are absorbed via the placenta, play a pivotal role in the development of the fetus especially in the last stages of pregnancy. Be advised though that the symptoms of the condition can be made worse when the skin reacts to external irritants like detergent left on beddings or clothing.
4. Baby acne is a serious health condition that requires urgent medical treatment. This is another myth since the condition is very harmless and wouldn’t need any treatment. Within a few weeks after development, the symptoms tend to disappear on their own once the hormones start to stabilize in the body. As is therefore expected, applying lotions and/or acne creams on the affected area can aggravate the condition, hence it is advisable that parents avoid the use of harsh chemicals on the delicate baby skin. The best remedy for baby acne is washing the affected areas gently by the use of plain water and maybe baby soap.
5. The only cause of baby acne is a mother’s hormone – this is another widespread misconception about baby acne. as previously mentioned, use of harsh products when washing baby clothes or using very strongly perfumed soaps can also irritate the skin and cause baby acne. If this is the cause of baby acne, the best course of action would be to stop using the detergent or soap that is causing the irritation and within a few days the acne will start to fade away on its own.
It is to be mentioned that many people fight the strong and uncontrollable urge to pop out a pimple or bump when it appears on their face. Whether this is an acquired habit or a mistaken attempt to remove the unsightly pimples off your face, you should never ever squeeze a baby’s acne. Needless to mention, this is more of torturing your little bundle of joy than actually helping getting rid of the baby acne. You will only cause discomfort and pain when trying to pop out these unsightly zits.
With that being said, now that you have a rough idea of causes of baby acne, and you understand that it is normal and will disappear on its own within a few days or weeks after showing up, you need not to panic as there is no treatment needed. Only in severe cases of baby acne does the condition persist and extends to over four weeks after onset, in which case you are advised to visit a pediatrician.