Baby acne: the facts

Baby acne, sometimes referred to as milk rash or newborn acne, is common in infants, and really nothing to worry about.

It can appear any time from birth up to a few weeks after the baby is born, and can be seen on the cheeks, forehead and chin - and sometimes even the back of the neck or shoulders. It's bumpy and can be the same colour as the baby's skin, or a light pink colour. It's usually not scaly or flaky.

You might notice that it seems worse occasionally, as a baby's sensitive skin can be irritated by things such as saliva, vomit, certain types of fabric, crying episodes, and heat.

Baby acne is thought it be caused by the hormones transferred between the mother to the baby in the final weeks of pregnancy, stimulating the oil glands in the baby's body. This is why it usually subsides after a few weeks, when the levels of the mother's hormones in the baby's body have fallen.

There's not much you can do to treat baby acne, apart from waiting for the hormones to leave the body. In fact, some treatments can even dry and inflame the skin, making things worse.

Baby acne generally doesn't cause babies any discomfort - it won't be itchy - so it's best to leave it alone.

If it seems that your baby does have a rash that is bothering him or her, on other areas of the body besides the face, or it hasn't cleared up after a few months, consult your baby's doctor; it could be another skin condition, such as eczema, toxic erythema, nappy rash, thrush, heat rash, or, less likely, herpes.

If the rash starts and spreads quickly, appears with other symptoms such as fever, wheezing or is of a red or purple tinge, seek medical attention urgently. This could be an allergic reaction, or possibly a serious infection, such as meningitis.

Essential Baby