Who's Afraid of Baby Acne?

Baby acne sounds strange, at least it did to me when I first heard it. Before my son was born, I didn't know that babies could have acne.

I remember noticing some spots on my son's face when he was just a few days old. They looked like pimples, but I didn't think for a second that it was acne - not in a baby, surely! But I was wrong. The health visitor said it was acne and that's how I learned that babies can have acne.

Acne in babies usually appears in the first few weeks. About 20% of babies have this skin condition. White spots or pimples often appear on the forehead, cheeks, eyelids or other parts of the baby's face. Sometimes the chin is affected.

Baby acne is sometimes referred to as "milk spots". Don't ask me why. Maybe it's caused by something in the mother's milk. Just kidding. "Milaria" is another word for this type of acne.

It usually heals within one to three months, and doesn't need any treatment. In some cases, it continues until the baby is 6 to 12 months, but this is not common.

It isn't just newborn babies that get acne. Older children can get it too, from 3 months up to about 16 months, but it is more common in newborns.

In older children, acne is more serious and affects boys more than girls. One or both of an older child's parents may also have acne.

Childhood acne may last for 1 or 2 years or sometimes until the child is about 5 years. It's also been known to continue until puberty.

It's rare for a child between 1 and 7 to get acne, so if this happens, have the child evaluated by a health care professional.

Medical treatment for acne carries risks, so if your child has acne, be sure to weigh up the risks and benefits of using drugs. Remember that acne in a baby is often harmless and doesn't need treatment.

You may want to read about my non-medical approach to managing acne on other pages of this site.

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