Neonatal acne

Who said pimples only affect teenagers? Conversely, acne can also manifest itself on the skin of the newborn. Let’s see together how to recognize it and what are the strategies and therapies to use to eliminate it.

  • Meaning of neonatal acne
  • Symptoms of neonatal acne
  • Causes of neonatal acne
  • False myths to dispel
  • Diagnosis of neonatal acne
  • Remedies for neonatal acne
  • Prevention of neonatal acne

Meaning of neonatal acne

It is a form of acne that develops during childhood and occurs on the face, especially on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.

It is one of the most common ailments of the neonatal age and, in most cases, it is temporary.

L ‘ acne , both the newborn and the forms that develop later, is caused by an’ inflammation of the skin, which primarily affects the hair follicles. These are structures similar to a blind-bottomed canal, lined with cells called keratinocytes. The follicles are present not only on the skin of the face, but also throughout the body, including the back , shoulders, arms and scalp.

Inside them are the sebaceous glands that produce sebum, a substance consisting mainly of fat. Under normal conditions, through the pores this material reaches the surface of the skin, with the purpose of lubricating it; in fact the sebum participates in the formation of the so-called skin hydrolipidic film, a thin protective layer, which keeps the epidermis hydrated.

In some cases, however, two circumstances can occur, which can cause inflammation of the skin, rash and the appearance of the typical pimples:

  • excessive secretion of sebumby the sebaceous glands
  • the desquamationof the duct due to the excessive proliferation of the keratinocytes that cover it.

When these two events occur at the same time, obstruction of the follicular canal can occur , which in turn promotes the proliferation of bacteria normally present on the skin and which are usually harmless, in particular Propionibacterium acnes.

There are different degrees of acne:

  • grade 1 (mild acne): presence of pimplesand blackheads with few papules containing pus
  • grade 2 (moderate): presence of papules and pustulesespecially in the facial area
  • grade 3 (moderately severe): high presence of papules and pustules and some nodules not only in the face, but also in the backand chest
  • grade 4 (severe): presence of a high number of large and painful subcutaneous papules, pustules and nodules.

Symptoms of neonatal acne

Acne that strikes in the first months of life manifests itself with the appearance on the baby’s skin of lesions such as:

  • papules, skin lesions that appear as small pinkish growths, which can sometimes be painful or itchy
  • pustules, similar to papules, characterized by a white tip that contains pus.

All these phenomena can occur simultaneously in the same child and are associated with the appearance of milia , white dots that can appear on the nose, chin and cheeks.

Contrary to acne that occurs in other periods of life, comedones do not appear in neonatal acne , also called whiteheads (closed comedones) and blackheads (open comedones). The formation of nodules or cysts is also rare, which can cause the appearance of more or less deep scars .

Causes of neonatal acne

The cause of this pediatric disorder is still unclear. There are several theories that acne could be caused by:

  • family predisposition, as it is believed that childhood acne can be influenced by genetic factors (the chances of being affected by acne are greater if one of the parents has suffered from it in the family and increase considerably if both have been affected by this disorder)
  • excessive activity of the sebaceous glandsin response to normal hormone production of androgens (in both boys and girls)
  • certain external agents, medications(such as steroids) or irritants found in creams and lotions.

Another hypothesis is that acne in the newborn is caused by the mother’s hormones, which pass to the child through the placenta and the umbilical cord.

Even if the connection between mother and baby is interrupted at birth, maternal hormones (especially estrogen) remain in the baby’s body for the first few weeks of life and must be disposed of by the baby’s liver . The presence of these substances in the blood in excess could cause the appearance of lesions typical of neonatal acne.


False myths to dispel

If a single and definitive explanation does not yet exist, however, “hoaxes” abound. Below we reveal some of them, which concern all forms of acne, not just neonatal:

  • acne is caused by a poor diet: false, because there is no strict correlation between the intake of a specific food and the appearance of lesions. This also applies to newborns: acne does not depend on the type of milk in formula, nor on the mother’s diet if the baby eats mother’s milk.
  • acne is caused by poorskin hygiene : false because it is not the lack of cleanliness that causes the typical rash of this ailment
  • squeezing blackheadsand pimples is a good method to eliminate them: false since this practice, if done independently at home, can worsen the manifestations and could even leave scars on the skin.

Diagnosis of neonatal acne

The diagnosis of neonatal acne can be made by the doctor with a simple physical examination of the newborn’s skin, observing the areas affected by the appearance of the lesions , in particular, the face, chest and back.

It is important to arrive at a diagnosis of neonatal acne, especially to distinguish it from other conditions, including:

  • periorificial dermatitis
  • keratosis pilare
  • infections
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • dermatosis
  • eczema
  • erythema
  • exanthematous diseases
  • allergies.

These are in fact common ailments in babies, even in periods such as breastfeeding or weaning , which can be characterized by the presence of spots or patches, which in some cases could be confused with typical acne lesions.

Phenomena of redness and skin rash , sometimes mistaken for childhood acne, can occur even after vaccinations.

Remedies for neonatal acne

In most cases, acne is a phenomenon that disappears spontaneously within a few months of the appearance of the first symptoms. However, if it is particularly severe or bothersome, or lasts a very long time, the pediatrician may decide to prescribe an appropriate therapy.

You can use an ointment or cleanser specially designed for acne in the newborn, which can be applied topically to the lesions. If a bacterial infection is associated with acne , the pediatrician may prescribe an antibiotic .

The key recommendation? Avoid DIY and never buy products without your pediatrician’s advice. The baby’s skin is in fact particularly delicate.

Prevention of neonatal acne

For the prevention of neonatal acne , but also to prevent it from worsening, it may be useful to follow some simple hygiene rules:

  • wash your hands thoroughly often, to reduce the risk of infections, and avoid touching the baby’s face too much (or try to avoid touching too much)
  • do not wash the areas of the skin affected by acne more than twice a day
  • during the bath, use warm waterand mild soaps specially formulated for newborns, so as not to worsen skin irritation
  • do not rub the skin of the face to dry it, but use a soft and light towel (preferably cotton) to gently pat the face
  • avoid squeezing pimples.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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