Although the condition can be alarming for the parents of a newborn, particularly if it is a first child, acne that appears as a rash on a baby’s face is quite common, and it is harmless. Whereas some infants are born with the rash, commonly referred to as milk bumps or milk rash, it appears when an infant is a couple of weeks old in most cases; it can develop months after birth as well. The condition is usually only temporary and rarely requires any treatment before going away on its own.
If your infant has a skin rash, it is always best to have it checked out by a doctor who can determine if the rash is simply baby acne or another condition, such as eczema, a heat rash, or another common skin condition in infants known as erythema toxicum. Baby acne most commonly occurs on the nose, cheeks, and around the mouth of the infant. It appears as a patch of inflamed and rough skin. The area will include any combination of comedones, or clogged pores, small pimples or papules, and possibly pustules. The papules do not contain pus, but once they have become infected, they become pustules.
One common cause of the rash is hormones from the mother that are passed through the placenta. Just as a surge of hormones frequently cause acne breakouts in teenagers and adults, the hormones that pass through the placenta to the infant cause the sebaceous glands that produce oil to become stimulated. The excess oil that is produced combines with dead skin cells to plug pores and form acne bumps.
Hormones Through Breast Feeding
If the baby is not born with acne but develops it a few weeks after birth then the cause is likely breastfeeding. After the mother delivers her infant, hormone production increases in her body for several weeks. The hormones are transferred from her breast milk to her infant. The extra hormones cause the sebaceous glands to produce excess oil that can clog pores and form pimples.
Changes In Diet
Another common cause of the rash is changing your infant’s diet. If you give your young infant cow’s milk, for example, the higher fat content of the dairy product can cause the body to produce excess oil that will clog pores. Sugary foods or beverages introduced into an infant’s diet at an early age can also cause changes to his body chemistry, causing pimples. Because infants have a digestive system that is not yet mature, they do not respond well to sudden changes in diet.
If your baby has milk bumps, there are several things you can do to prevent further irritation to the affected areas while it is healing. When your infant spits up, quickly wipe the infant’s face; similarly, if your infant dribbles while feeding, wipe the excess away. Avoid using soaps or lotions on your infant’s face that can cause irritation and consult your physician before using acne treatments. Use only soft fabrics to wash your infant, and avoid putting scratchy or itchy fabrics on your infant; launder clothing with a mild, perfume-free detergent.