Pimples on a Baby's Face: Causes and Treatment

Pimples on a baby's face don't usually cause complications and aren't serious. However, medical consultation should be sought.
Pimples on a Baby's Face: Causes and Treatment
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 15 April, 2023

Newborn skin is delicate and soft. However, during the first days of life, pimples on a baby’s face may often appear, causing concern and anxiety in new parents. While some of them resolve on their own, others will require specific treatment. We’ll tell you more in this article.

Causes of pimples on a baby’s face

The baby’s skin is in the process of adapting to life outside the womb and, during this period, lesions appear that tend to resolve on their own over time. Here are some of these conditions.

Milium cysts

Milium are small white cysts on the skin. They don’t usually last long but cause concern for parents. Also, they don’t require treatment because they resolve on their own within a few weeks. One of the causes attributed to it is that dead skin cells get trapped underneath the skin and form cysts.

Infant acne

Infant acne is also called “neonatal cephalic pustulosis”. It’s a very common condition in newborns and occurs in one in five infants. It usually clears up on its own within the first three months.

You may be interested in: Milia in Babies: What You Should Know

A newborn baby resting its head in an adult's hands.
In most cases, infant acne starts around two weeks of age, with small bumps and pustules on the cheeks, forehead, chin, and eyelids.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis can affect the scalp, as well as other areas, and involves itching, flaking of the skin, and inflammation. In addition, it can be found in areas with a high concentration of active sebaceous glands, such as the scalp, the T-line of the face, and the ears.

It’s therefore a chronic, mostly self-limiting, scaly skin condition that appears between the third week and the first two months of life. On physical examination, findings include the accumulation of yellow, greasy scales on the vertex, forehead, and scalp.

Sudamen, sweat vesicles

Sudamen is caused by superficial, momentary obstruction of eccrine sweat ducts that give rise to rapidly evolving, noninflammatory vesicles.

This type of manifestation occurs more frequently in hot, humid tropical climates and in the neonatal period. This is due to the lack of maturation of the sweat duct during the first days after birth.

Atopic eczema

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, common skin condition that can significantly alter the quality of life of sufferers and their families. The main feature is intense itching of the skin surface, leading to skin trauma and significant sleep disturbance.

The disorder appears to be the result of the complex interaction between defects in skin barrier function, immune system dysregulation, and environmental and infectious agents.

A mother applying cream to a baby's face.
When atopic eczema appears in infants, the scalp, face, neck, trunk, and extensor surfaces of the extremities are affected in most cases, while this doesn’t happen in the diaper area.

Measures to manage pimples on a baby’s face

There are multiple recommendations to carry out and prevent the appearance of lesions on the baby’s skin. Some of them can be easy and very effective:

  • Baths with lukewarm water: Babies don’t need to be bathed every day or from the first day of life. In addition, it’s advisable to use lukewarm water and neutral hypoallergenic soaps that don’t contain dyes or fragrances. Even the duration of rinsing should be short and you should avoid generating friction when drying with a towel.
  • Avoid sun exposure: Babies under 6 months of age aren’t allowed to be exposed to the sun. However, older babies should use adequate protection.
  • Suitable clothing: The choice of cotton or natural fiber clothing helps to prevent allergic reactions or irritations on the skin surface of babies.
  • Rich and varied food: A diet that’s varied and contains all the nutrients and vitamins necessary to avoid illnesses is recommended. Proper hydration is also key.
  • Avoid certain products: It’s not a good idea to apply products on the baby’s face that may cause the sebaceous glands to be occluded.

Medical consultation as a premise

Pimples on the baby’s face don’t usually cause any complications and aren’t serious. However, a consultation with a medical specialist should always be sought. If deemed necessary, the doctor will indicate the necessary measures or treatments to be carried out.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.