Neonatal Acne: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Diaper rash is not the only skin problem that a newborn baby can have. Learn about neonatal acne and its main characteristics below.
Neonatal Acne: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Last update: 20 December, 2022

Cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis, diaper rash, Milium cysts, miliaria, and neonatal acne are different skin disorders that a baby can develop from birth. Although they are usually mild and transitory in nature, they can cause some concern in parents. Especially among first-timers.

Neonatal acne is an inflammatory skin condition that newborns can develop during their first weeks or months of life. Thus, in some cases, it can occur in very young babies, just a few weeks old, while in other cases it can appear later, when they’re already several months old.

According to experts, it’s a variant of acne vulgaris. It occurs most often in male babies, although it can also affect female babies. The incidence is estimated to be around 20% of healthy newborns.

Unlike what people originally thought, it isn’t usually serious, but if you have any concerns, it’s best to consult your pediatrician. An early check-up and diagnosis can help determine what is happening to the baby’s skin (whether it is neonatal acne or another condition), and what to avoid so as not to aggravate the situation.

Causes

Neonatal acne has several origins.
Many factors intervene in the appearance of neonatal acne, from genetic aspects to the influence of environmental factors.

As with other types of acne, neonatal acne doesn’t have a single cause, but is caused by a combination of various factors.

An article titled Neonatal and infantile acne – ethiopathogenesis, clinical presentation and treatment possibilities states the following:

“The androgen imbalance caused by maternal steroids in neonatal cases and endogenous secretion in infants is believed to be the main cause of these forms of pediatric acne. In patients with virilization symptoms, precocious puberty, or growth disorders, it’s recommended to conduct a comprehensive study to detect underlying endocrine causes. “

Symptoms

Neonatal acne is characterized by the appearance of a few reddish papules or granites, which in turn can be associated with white pustules and comedones.

These usually affect the cheek area, mainly. However, they can affect the forehead, nose, and chin area, as occurs with milium cysts.

On the other hand, there have been cases of neonatal acne in which lesions don’t only appear on the face, but also on the scalp, neck, chest, and upper back. However, the most common thing is that it’s limited to affecting the cheek area.

Symptoms are usually mild and resolve spontaneously by 3 months of age. Only in some cases could it become persistent and require more rigorous medical control. Regarding this, research states that:

“Neonatal acne can occasionally evolve into childhood acne, distinguished by typical acne lesions, from week 6 to 7 years of age, with inflammatory lesions and closed comedones, predominantly on the cheeks.”

Treatment

Neonatal acne does not require treatment.
In most cases, it isn’t necessary to apply specific treatment for neonatal acne, since it is usually mild and disappears spontaneously.

Unlike adolescent acne, neonatal acne doesn’t usually require any treatment and disappears on its own, without leaving any marks, by 3 months of age. In general, it’s enough to take into account the recommendations of the pediatrician regarding the care of the baby’s skin.

Recommendations generally consist of the following:

  • Don’t try to deal with the areas with the problem
  • Wash the baby’s skin with lukewarm water
  • Avoid hygiene and cleaning products that are oil-based
  • Dry the baby’s skin gently and with a clean towel. Don’t rub.
  • Don’t apply any anti-acne product without the authorization of the pediatrician or dermatologist.

The application of over-the-counter products (soaps, gels, ointments, etc.) can be harmful to the baby’s delicate skin, as well as other measures that haven’t been authorized by the expert.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that, even when a product may be anti-acne, it won’t be beneficial or useful in all cases. Regardless of the stage of life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood), it’s best to always consult with specialists and follow their recommendations to give the skin what it needs to be healthy.

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