How To Treat & Prevent Baby Acne

How To Treat & Prevent Baby Acne

Even though baby acne is one of the most common skin conditions that develops in newborns and infants, watching these little bumps flare up can be a stressful time for a parent. To help alleviate that stress, the experts at Mustela have put together ten tips for getting rid of baby acne.

baby acne

Before we get to the top ten baby acne treatment tips, let’s touch on three important questions:

  • What is baby acne?
  • What does baby acne look like?
  • What causes baby acne?

What Is Baby Acne?

Baby acne is just like the acne that many suffer from in their teens and twenties. Baby acne can pop up anywhere on your newborn’s body, but it’s most often seen on her cheeks and back. This skin condition normally becomes visible within two to four weeks of your baby’s birth. That said, some newborns have acne when they’re born.

What Does Baby Acne Look Like?

Baby acne looks similar to the acne that many teenagers and adults have dealt with—hard red bumps that are surrounded by red, inflamed skin. These bumps are found on your baby’s skin and may develop white pustules (whiteheads) just like adolescent and adult acne.

What Causes Baby Acne?

Doctors aren’t 100% sure what causes baby acne, but some believe that it results from exposure to maternal hormones in the womb (or possibly through breastfeeding). Don’t let that change the way you feed your newborn, though. Even if hormones in mom’s breastmilk are causing the acne outbreaks, they are not a serious condition and will usually subside in a few days.

9 Tips For Treating Baby Acne

Baby acne can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. The following ten tips can help shorten the outbreak period and make your baby feel more comfortable in the process.

1) Fight & Prevent Baby Acne With A Gentle Cleansing Product

Keeping baby acne under control—and even getting rid of it completely—can be as simple as cleaning your baby with a gentle cleansing product regularly.

But you don’t want to clean their delicate, sensitive skin with just any cleanser. It’s best to use one that’s specially-formulated for newborns. We recommend using a product that contains micellar water, like Mustela’s Gentle No Rinse Cleansing Water so it does not dry out their sensitive skin. Best of all, Mustela’s Gentle No Rinse Cleansing Water doesn’t require rinsing and is great for when on the go!

Micellar water is composed of tiny cleansing oil molecules suspended in super-soft water. It dissolves dirt and impurities to cleanse your baby’s skin without stripping off its natural oils. And because Mustela’s Gentle No Rinse Cleansing Water contains no parabens, phthalates, or phenoxyethanol, it’s safe to use on children of any age.

2) Don’t Rub Your Baby’s Skin With Rough Fabric

baby acne causes

Rough fabrics can make your baby’s acne worse by further irritating the already sensitive skin. That’s why it’s so important to keep rough fabrics away from your newborn. Dress her in super-soft clothing, and keep wool and other coarse fibers away from her skin.

Similarly, don’t bathe your baby with a washcloth. The roughness of the cloth can rip open the bumps and lead to infection. Instead, wash your baby with your hands, but be sure to remove any jewelry that may poke or prick.

3) Pat Your Baby Dry After A Bath

Towels can be notoriously coarse...especially on your baby’s tender skin. And if she suffers from baby acne, the feeling can be even worse.

To keep bath towels from wreaking havoc on your baby’s acne, always pat her skin dry instead of rubbing. Rubbing with a rough cloth—like a towel or washcloth—can remove skin cells (exfoliate), which, in most cases, is a good thing. But for your baby’s already-irritated skin, it can cause more problems.

Similarly, the heat created by rubbing your baby dry can contribute to the discomfort caused by baby acne. Always gently pat your baby’s skin dry.

4) Don’t Use Oily Creams Or Lotions

Acne—be it baby, adolescent, or adult—is caused by clogged pores. Dirt and oil gets stuck around a hair follicle and creates a plug that irritates surrounding skin. Visually, this is the redness and swelling that are so commonly associated with acne. Because acne is caused by a buildup of oil and dirt, it’s best to avoid using oily creams and lotions on acne-prone skin.

To keep your baby’s acne-prone skin as healthy as possible, whether she is having an outbreak or not, we suggest regularly cleansing the area with Mustela’s No Rinse Cleansing Water or Mustela’s No Rinse Soothing Cleansing Water for very sensitive skin. These products contain micellar water, which works to keep your baby’s skin clean because the micelles (microscopic cleansing oil molecules) in the water are attracted to the dirt and oil that can clog pores. The micelles are thus able to draw out impurities without irritating sensitive skin.

After you cleanse your baby’s skin, follow up with a sensitive-skin product like Mustela’s Soothing Moisturizing Body Lotion. This daily, light textured baby body lotion is specially designed for newborns with very sensitive, rashy, or reactive skin.

5) Do Not Pick At The Bumps

You may be tempted to pop or pick at the bumps on your baby’s face. Do your best to resist this urge. Breaking open the acne does little good in the long run and can lead to infection and scarring. You can even cause your baby’s sebaceous (oil-making) glands to kick into high gear and produce even more oil. That extra oil on your baby’s skin can cause yet another acne breakout.

6) Try The Breast Milk Remedy


There is no research to back up these claims, but many mom’s swear by the power of breastmilk to clear up baby acne. Breast milk has high antimicrobial properties that can help keep your baby healthy.

Those same antimicrobial properties can, theoretically, do just as much good when applied topically (on the skin) as they do when ingested. Using a finger, just dab a small amount of breastmilk on your baby’s inflamed skin several times a day. A great time to try this is during feeding periods when your baby is happy and content.

7) Keep Irritants Away From Your Baby’s Skin

baby on bed

We’ve already talked about rough fabrics like towels, washcloths, and clothing, but there are other fabrics that can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Keep your infant away from furniture covered in coarse fabric. Don’t let her roll around on the carpet if it’s particularly scratchy.

You may even need to inspect her stuffed animals to make sure that none of them are too rough. And if you have pets, be extra vigilant about keeping your baby’s environment clean, because dander can trigger an allergic reaction in acne-prone skin.

8) Don’t Let Your Baby Scratch Or Pick

Unlike you, your baby doesn’t understand what’s going on with her skin. The swelling and itchiness may cause her to scratch, rub, or pick her baby acne without her even knowing it.

If you see her skin becoming more red and swollen, or if you see her rub the inflamed areas, it’s time to cover her hands with baby mittens or soft socks. This doesn’t have to be a permanent thing, and she doesn’t have to wear them all the time. It’s simply to give the acne time to heal.

9) Be Patient

baby acne prevention

Above all, be patient. It can take weeks for your baby’s body to normalize and find a balance after the shock of birth. Eventually, the condition will clear up and your baby’s skin will be soft and smooth. Better yet, your baby won’t be uncomfortable in her own skin. That makes for better cuddle time, longer naps, and better feeding habits.

If at any time you become concerned about your baby’s acne, we suggest that you consult with a physician. At the very least, she can put your mind at ease regarding your child’s rash. She may even decide to prescribe something a bit more powerful to help get rid of your baby’s acne. And if your baby’s acne ever looks like it might be getting infected (it’s oozing opaque, yellowish fluid or bleeding), take her to the doctor right away.

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