top of page

Understanding the Difference: Baby Acne vs Eczema

Updated: Nov 22

Baby Acne and Eczema
by Colin Maynard

As a postpartum parent, it can be overwhelming to see your baby's delicate skin develop any kind of rash or irritation. Two common skin conditions that can affect babies are baby acne and eczema. While both may look similar, they are two different conditions that require different treatment. In this article, we will review the differences between baby acne vs eczema, their causes, and how to properly care for your baby's skin. Learning more about these conditions can help you identify them early and seek appropriate treatment.

It is important to note that while these conditions can cause discomfort and concern, they are quite common and can be managed effectively with the right care. Many babies experience both skin conditions, and neither is a reflection of your parenting or your baby's overall health. They also seem to appear a few days after being home form the hospital. In addition, with the right information and guidance from a medical professional, Doula or Newborn Care Specialist, you can provide your baby with the care they need.

What is Baby Acne?

Baby acne, also known as neonatal acne, is a common skin condition that affects newborns and infants. Visible small red or white bumps an be seen on the baby's face, particularly on the cheeks, chin, and forehead. These bumps may also have a yellow or white center, similar to a pimple. Baby acne can appear within the first few weeks after birth and usually clears up on its own within a few months.

Baby acne vs eczema
by Michael Mims

Despite its name, baby acne is not the same as the acne that teenagers and adults experience. Rather, it is from hormonal changes that occur in the baby's body. It is also important to note that baby acne is not harmful or painful for the baby, and it does not leave any long-term skin damage. However, it can cause some concern for parents who are not familiar with the condition.

What is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin. It is a common condition that affects both children and adults, but it is more prevalent in a newborn baby. Eczema can appear on any part of the body, but it is most commonly found on the face, scalp, and joints. It can also flare up and subside periodically, making it a long-term condition for some infants.

Eczema in babies can be challenging to manage due to the itchiness and discomfort it can cause. It can disrupt sleep and feeding patterns and can lead to skin infections if the baby scratches the affected areas. However, with the right care and treatment, the symptoms of eczema can be effectively managed, and many babies outgrow the condition as they get older.


Baby Acne

The exact cause of baby acne is unknown. However, it is believed to be a result of hormones passed from the mother to the baby during pregnancy. These hormones can cause the baby's oil glands to become overactive, leading to onset of acne. Baby acne is not caused by poor infant care or an allergic reaction. It is also not related to the baby's diet or to breastfeeding, so there's no need to change your feeding practices or contact a lactation consultant, if your baby develops acne.

Despite the uncertainty around its cause, baby acne is a temporary condition that resolves on its own. It is neither a sign of any underlying health issues, and it does not mean that your baby will have acne when they are older. It is also important to note that the severity of baby acne vary depending on the infant.


Eczema is a genetic condition that is often triggered by environmental factors. Infants with a family member with a history of eczema, asthma, or allergies are more likely to develop the condition. Eczema can also be triggered by things such as harsh soaps, detergents, and fabrics, as well as changes in temperature and humidity.

Besides these triggers, certain foods can also worsen eczema symptoms in some babies. If you notice a pattern of eczema flare-ups after your baby eats certain foods, it may be a good idea discussing with a pediatrician. It is also important to remember that eczema is not caused by food allergies, but food can be a trigger for some babies.


Baby Acne

The main symptom of baby acne is the appearance of small red or white bumps on the baby's face. These bumps may be surrounded by red, inflamed skin and can sometimes have a yellow or white center. Baby acne is not usually itchy or painful, and it does not cause any discomfort. It is also not contagious, so there is no need to isolate your baby or avoid skin-to-skin contact.

Additionally, baby acne can also appear on the back and chest. However, if you notice bumps or rashes in other areas such as the diaper area, it may be a sign of a different skin condition and you should consult a pediatrician.


The symptoms of eczema can vary from mild to severe and can include red, itchy, and inflamed skin, dry and scaly patches, and oozing or crusting of the skin. Eczema can also cause the skin to become thick and leathery over time. The affected areas may be itchy and uncomfortable for the baby, leading to scratching and potential skin infections.

Eczema can also affect a baby's behavior. The itchiness and discomfort can cause irritability, fussiness, and changes in sleeping habits. If you notice these symptoms along with skin changes, it may be a sign of eczema and you should seek medical advice.


Baby Acne

In most cases, baby acne does not require any treatment and will clear up on its own within a few months. It is important not to pick or squeeze the bumps, as this can lead to scarring and potential infection. Gently washing your newborn's face with warm water and a mild soap can help keep the area clean and prevent further irritation. If the acne persists or becomes severe, consult a pediatrician for extra support.

While waiting for the acne to clear, it is important to keep your baby comfortable and to avoid anything that could irritate their skin. This includes avoiding harsh skincare products and keeping your baby's face clean and dry. It is also helpful to be patient and to resist the urge to try home remedies or over-the-counter acne treatments, as these can be too harsh for a baby's delicate skin.


The treatment for eczema involves managing the symptoms and preventing flare-ups. This includes keeping the baby's skin moisturized with a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer, avoiding irritants, and using prescribed creams or ointments. In severe cases, oral medications may be prescribed. It is also important to keep your baby's nails trimmed to prevent scratching and potential skin infections.

In addition to these treatments, it can be helpful to note and avoid potential triggers. This can include certain foods, fabrics, or environmental factors. Keeping a diary of your baby's symptoms can help track patterns and potential triggers. While caring for your baby, It is also important to work closely with your baby's pediatrician to develop a treatment plan.

Baby Skincare

Baby acne vs eczema, it is essential to establish a proper skincare routine to keep their delicate skin healthy and free from irritation. Here are some quick tips for caring for your baby's skin:

  • Use gentle, fragrance-free products: Avoid using harsh soaps, detergents, and lotions that can irritate your baby's skin. We suggest products specifically designed for babies with sensitive skin. You can also test new products on a small area of your baby's skin before using them fully.

  • Keep the skin moisturized: Regularly moisturizing your baby's skin can help prevent dryness and irritation. Choose a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer which is applied it after baths or as needed. Avoid using adult moisturizers, as they can be too harsh for a baby's skin.

  • Avoid irritants: Keep track os any potential irritants such as rough fabrics, harsh chemicals, and extreme temperatures. These can trigger eczema flare-ups and worsen existing skin conditions.

  • Dress your baby in loose, breathable clothing: Tight clothing can rub against the skin and cause irritation. Select loose, soft fabrics such as cotton to keep your baby comfortable. Consider using mittens to prevent your baby from scratching their skin.

  • Consult a pediatrician: If you notice any changes in your baby's skin or if their skin condition does not improve with at-home care, consult a pediatrician for further advice and treatment. They can provide guidance and prescribe treatments if necessary.

While baby acne and eczema may look similar, they are two different skin conditions that require different approaches for treatment. Baby acne is a common condition that usually clears up on its own, while eczema is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management. By understanding the difference between the two and establishing a proper skincare routine, you can help keep your baby's delicate skin healthy and free from irritation. Consider working with a pediatrician for any concerns or questions about your baby's skin. Know that every baby is unique, and what works for one baby may not work for another. Always be patient and attentive to your baby's needs, and do not hesitate to seek extra support from a pediatrician or postpartum doula service.

0 views0 comments

Welcome to the World of Postpartum Doula Care

bottom of page