Baby pimples generally appear within 3 or 4 weeks after a baby is born and is evidenced by small red bumps or whiteheads across the cheeks, forehead and chin. Milia, or hard white pimple like bumps are also typical appearances on about 40% of newborn's faces immediately after birth, but are not considered acne. Occurring in about 20% of all children, real acne on babies is a result of the mother's hormones coming in contact with the placenta just before birth. The sebaceous glands are activated in a newborn and an excessive amount of oil begins to be produced on the baby's skin. Until a natural oil balance is achieved, some infants may have recurring skin problems until around 6 months of age. This is consternation to many parents who want to have beautiful pictures of their little darlings. A word of advice...parents should take a lot of good pictures the first month!
While the appearance of acne on their sweet baby's face may be horrifying to proud parents, it really is generally of no serious health concern. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." (Isaiah 54:13) As the oil glands become naturally balanced, most children are acne-free well before their first birthday. This type of baby pimples generally clears up on its own without the use of medications or special skin care products. Parents are recommended to gently wash their child's face with warm water and a very mild soap that is formulated for babies. Using lotions, creams and oil-based products do not help and may actually cause more bumps. If however, the problem persists after the six month mark, some pediatricians will prescribe a medication that can help clear the skin.
There are other kinds of acne that can develop on a newborn after a few months. One type is called infantile acne which develops after 3 or 4 months. These baby pimples are yellow and usually are found on the cheeks and nose. Some babies also have blackheads and whiteheads as well. This type of skin condition usually goes away when a child is a year old, but sometimes may last as long as up to 3 years. The cause is related to original traces of the mothers hormones still present. Most of these conditions clear up on their own without any special treatment protocols.
Of course, a pediatrician should be consulted if a condition seems to be severe and shows no signs of resolving. Milia are common on children and are sometimes mistaken for acne. Milia are in the form of bumps and each blemish is a hard white pimple that is generally found on the nose, cheeks and chin. Bumps that are very similar can be found on some infant's gums or in the roof of their mouths. These types of bumps are called Epstein's Pearls and are quite common. Babies can have varying amounts of Milia, but the bumps are not harmful and will generally resolve without any treatment. These types of skin eruptions are the result of dead skin cells that get trapped just below the surface of the skin. Pockets are formed and the cells harden, causing the bumps.
Generally, the eruptions disappear when the skin sheds away. Since the bumps are near the surface of the skin, it doesn't take long for the skin to rejuvenate itself with a new surface. Parents should only gently wash an infant's face with warm water and baby soap. The bumps should not be squeezed or scrubbed in an attempt to make them go away. This may only cause future scarring on the infants skin. While newborns are obviously the only age group that develops acne caused by maternal hormones, babies are not the only age group to have Milia. Hard white pimple like bumps are commonly found on adult facial skin and can be more difficult to deal with than for children.
Adults can develop the condition when oil and dead skin accumulates in pockets under the skin. A hard white pimple is filled with protein that has hardened into a granule. Unlike typical acne, the blemishes are not in the pores but in pockets under the skin. In order to get rid of these blemishes, a lengthy process of exfoliation and cleansing is needed to assist layers of the skin to slough off. Eventually, some of the bumps will disappear. Sometimes, they will need to be removed. It is generally best to see a dermatologist who can gently remove these cyst-like bumps with the appropriate tools. As in any type of skin condition, from baby pimples to adult Milia, seeking the advice of a health professional is always helpful in alleviating concerns as well as finding new treatment options.