About Baby Acne
New parents often are eager to show off their baby, but their child's complexion is not always as picture-perfect as they may have expected. In fact, almost a third of babies will develop baby acne, according to Dr. Laura Jana, expert contributor to DrSpock.com. Although baby acne doesn't look pleasant, it's rarely cause for concern and will usually go away on its own without treatment.
Baby acne usually appears on the cheeks, but it also may be present on the chin, forehead and back. The acne generally looks like small white bumps surrounded by reddish skin. Acne often becomes more pronounced when the baby is hot or when he has been crying, and it may be irritated by things such as drool, spit-up and rough or scented fabrics.
Baby acne can occur within the first days after birth. It typically clears up on its own within a few weeks, but it may linger for as long as a few months. Parents with babies who have had acne for longer than three months with no signs of clearing should talk to a pediatrician.
Although baby acne can have many causes, hormonal changes that occur toward the end of the pregnancy are usually behind the breakouts. The end of pregnancy is when the mother passes hormones to the baby through the placenta, and the hormones remain in the baby's body after birth. Certain medications can also trigger baby acne, the medical advisory board of BabyCenter.com explains. Baby acne can also signal a hormonal problem, but this is rare.
Baby acne typically does not need any medical treatment, but parents should keep a few things in mind while it is present. Consistently washing the baby's face with warm water and a mild soap a couple of times a day is wise, but parents should take special care not to scrub or be too rough when doing so. After washing, parents should carefully dry the baby's face by patting it with a dry towel. They should not use any scented soaps, lotions or oils, as these may exacerbate the acne. Adult acne products may be dangerous for a baby, so parents should avoid using them completely.
Parents sometimes mistake other skin conditions or rashes for baby acne. Heat rashes, erythema toxicum, hives, cradle cap and eczema are a few common baby skin problems that are not baby acne. Heat rashes look like little red bumps or small blisters. Erythema toxicum are flat, red splotches with a pimple-like, white bump in the center. Hives look like red welts and generally appear and disappear from various parts of the body within hours. Cradle cap occurs on the scalp and looks like crusty, scaly patches of dried skin. Eczema causes patches of the skin to become dry, scaly, red and itchy. Like baby acne, most of these conditions are not serious and many go away on their own.
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