It is thought that baby acne comes about as the result of two different causes.
Firstly, during pregnancy, women go through many hormonal changes and we all know that hormonal changes contribute to acne in teens. Some trace hormones stay with the baby (naturally passed through the placenta from the mother to the baby) and help stimulate lung maturation and other things but at the same time can cause baby acne, when they are born, by stimulating the sebaceous glands, leading to extra sebum production. In this case, prevention of baby acne is impossible.
The second cause, although still being studied, is thought to be because of certain medications or supplements taken by women during pregnancy and many dermatologists are behind this theory.
It should be a comfort to know that baby acne is very common and usually goes away in just a few weeks but sometimes lingers for longer, running into several months. Baby acne can be present at birth or it can show up when the baby is about two weeks old. It usually appears on the nose, the cheeks or perhaps the forehead, the chin or even on the back. The skin may also appear red and rough. Baby acne or neonatal acne (as it is sometimes known) can have the typical acne signs and symptoms of whiteheads, blackheads and pustules. It should be left alone without any excessive cleaning or product use unless it really persists and then you can see a dermatologist for advice.
Baby acne isn't pretty, but it is common and the good news is that it is temporary. It affects some 20% of all newborn babies.
When the baby is calm and contented, the baby acne is quite mild in appearance but can become more noticeable if your baby is hot, fussing or crying. Sometimes the skin can be irritated by saliva, dribbled milk or even as a result of a harsh detergent used to wash his clothing and bedding. All of these irritations can be easily addressed. Do not allow any spit-up or milk to sit or dry on the baby's skin as these liquids can clog skin pores, resulting in the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. Change to natural and fragrant-free detergents and fabric softeners to avoid any harsh chemical residues making the baby acne any worse.
Do not overdo the cleaning – just wash your baby's face gently with a mild or natural soap and water once a day before patting dry. No vigorous washing and scrubbing or using moisturizers and other creams and lotions because this can make baby acne worse. Baby acne is not going to worry your baby in the least, so try not to let it worry you.
Some parents might confuse baby acne with a regular rash or with the tiny white bumps that sometimes appear on the nose, chin or cheeks which are known as milia. Baby acne is more common in boy babies than in girls and unlike regular rashes, baby acne is never found on the extremities or chest of a newborn baby.