Acne in newborns (neonatal acne) is one of the more common eruptions, occurring in approximately 20% of newborns. It typically appears at approximately 2 to 3 weeks of life and looks like small, red bumps and pustules that are scattered over the cheeks of the newborn child. The forehead, eyelids, chin, neck, and upper chest may also become involved.
Acne or acne-like breakouts in newborns can be difficult to diagnose accurately because there are different, usually temporary and harmless conditions of the skin that often look very similar but have different underlying causes. Several temporary and harmless hormonal imbalances can occur in the neonatal period that may play a role in the newborn period; however, comedones, which are the typical lesion seen on adolescent acne, are not seen in acne of the newborn. There can also be involvement of a yeast called Pityrosporum rather than Propionibacterium acnes or the conditions that normally cause acne. This type of rash is not harmful to the child and can be treated with a topical antifungal that the baby’s doctor prescribes.