Newborn baby acne: Cause and treatment

Is your beautiful newborn baby’s face suddeny covered in little spots a few days after birth? It’s nothing to be concerned about, and is most likely baby acne, or what’s often called a milk rash, or milia.

Baby acne is a very common and perfectly normal hormonal rash. It appears as a small red rash, and is often associated with white spots or pustules on a baby’s nose and cheeks (but can appear anywhere on their face). The lumps are usually less than 1 mm in diameter, but can measure up to 3 mm. Like any skin condition, it’s important to speak to your GP or maternal and child health nurse to confirm that it’s a hormonal rash, and not eczema, thrush, or any other type of rash.

What causes baby acne?

It’s believed that the hormones that are transferred from mother to baby in the later stages of pregnancy can lead to acne. It doesn’t occur via breastmilk since formula-fed babies can also experience a milk rash.

Milia are the tiny white lumps and are caused by a collection of dead cells (keratin) from the top layer of skin, which get trapped just below the skin’s surface. The rash doesn’t itch or hurt, and won’t leave scars (as long as you don’t try to burst the spots).

How can I treat baby acne?

Hormonal rashes tend to just disappear on their own within weeks to months after birth, so the best thing you can do is:

  • Simply leave it alone, and keep your baby’s skin clean and dry
  • Do not introduce any skincare products, as your baby’s skin is incredibly sensitive
  • Avoid pinching, scrubbing, or squeezing the lumps
  • If you notice redness, swelling, or crusting around the lumps, please seek medical advice
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