Just when you thought you had this whole motherhood thing figured out, the universe goes and drops a whole planetary constellation on your baby’s cheeks and chin; tiny red bumps that keep you antsy by day and sleepless by night. As alarming as this breakout on your little one’s tender skin may look, baby acne is a condition that usually resolves on its own. And although its exact cause is not known, it is a fairly common skin condition, occurring in as many as 1 in 5 babies.
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Baby acne usually appears as tiny red pimples or bumps on a baby’s body or face. Sometimes, white pustules also develop around the bumps. The condition is most commonly associated with the face, especially the cheeks, and the back. In some cases, baby acne is present at birth. However, by and large, the condition manifests between the second and fourth week of a baby’s life. It usually lasts between a few days and a few weeks and rarely, it persists for several months.
Causes of Baby Acne There isn’t a proven explanation for why baby acne occurs but there are several theories that offer possible insights:
• Rough fabrics: It is thought that baby acne could be triggered by rough fabrics that brush and irritate the skin
• Dried saliva: Saliva that dries and settles on the face could cause irritation, leading to breakouts
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• Hormonal factors: As with teenage acne, baby acne is considered hormone-related; babies experience a surge of androgen hormones at the one-month mark, which enlarges the oil glands and possibly influences the onset of acne Symptoms of Baby Acne Baby acne is generally mild and in the majority of cases, restricted to the face.
It can appear as:
• Whiteheads and blackheads: Tiny whiteheads or blackheads on the chin, cheeks and forehead
• Skin conditions: Other skin conditions like eczema may appear on the rest of the body
Baby acne generally subsides on its own, without any treatment or intervention. However, some babies may experience persistent acne that lasts several months. In such cases, it is recommended that you meet a paediatrician to have your child examined and seek a medicated ointment to clear the acne. In addition to a doctor’s prescription, you can also practise an assortment of home remedies to lift the acne and keep your baby’s skin healthy.
It is imperative that you gently cleanse your baby’s face daily with lukewarm water. Opt for a mild and moisturising soap with a pH balance between 7 and 7.5.
Scrubbing your baby’s face and body with a towel can lead to redness and aggravation. Wipe off stains and spills gently with a soap-doused cloth and pat dry with a soft towel.
Lotions aren’t a baby’s best friend. In fact, they can worsen baby acne, so it is best to banish them altogether.
Be patient; chances are, the acne will recede on its own. Give it time.
If you’re worried about the onset of baby acne, it is advisable to consult a paediatrician who can put your mind at ease. Sometimes, what seems like baby acne may actually be a reaction from an allergy or eczema. During a paediatric consultation, if your doctor suspects an allergic trigger, you may be advised ways to observe potential allergens. Usually, if the rash is allergen-related, it subsides once the allergen is extracted from the baby's ecosystem.
Although baby acne can appear painful, in most cases, it causes no harm to your baby. In time, the condition should lift and make its way out of your baby’s skin. Until then, stay calm, relax and take one day at a time.
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