Is infant acne normal?

Q: My baby has pimples on her face! What can I do?

A: About a month after birth, some babies get tiny, firm pimples with a slight redness around the base on their face, which also can spread to the shoulders and back. The acne occurs because hormones from the end of your pregnancy are still hanging around in your baby's system, stimulating oil glands and causing clogged pores. Infant acne can be alarming for parents expecting their baby's skin to be perfectly smooth and soft, but the blemishes don't bother your newborn and usually clear up on their own within a few weeks.

While there's nothing you can do to treat your baby's pimples, spit-up and milk can make the condition worse, so be sure to wipe your baby's face well after feedings. Do not try to pop the pimples or apply over-the-counter acne treatments. Just clean his face as you normally would, with warm water and a mild soap. Although most cases of infant acne are no cause for concern, you should give your pediatrician a call if the blemishes become larger, are filled with pus, or appear very bright red. These may be signs of a bacterial infection, which needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Copyright 2003 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.