Acne doesn’t only affect teenagers and adults — it can also affect infants. These tiny white bumps can occur on your baby’s chin, cheeks, or back, and they often appear in the weeks or months after birth.
The good news is that baby acne isn’t permanent, and bumps often improve with time. But if you’re looking for a way to get rid of the acne sooner, breast milk is a surprising — but often effective — treatment.
Many people don’t associate acne with babies, but it’s a common skin condition in newborns and infants. In fact, it affects as many as 20 percent of infants younger than 6 weeks old.
The exact cause of baby acne isn’t clear, yet there are a few theories. Maternal hormones play a role in baby acne, triggering bumps in some infants. Babies are exposed to fluctuating hormones before birth while in the womb, as well as after birth due to breastfeeding.
Infants also have sensitive skin. This means their pores can easily clog, thus causing acne.
Another belief is that yeast living on the skin can trigger acne in some infants.
Using breast milk to treat baby acne might seem a little far-fetched, but some people swear by this remedy.
To be clear, there’s no science or research to support this claim. However, breast milk does have antimicrobial properties. This means it may reduce or destroy some microbes, like bacteria.
So if bacteria on your baby’s skin triggers acne, cleansing their skin with breast milk may help kill the bacteria and other impurities that block pores. This, in turn, can also reduce skin irritation and inflammation caused by acne.
One benefit of using your breast milk to treat baby acne is that it’s natural, free — and, well, widely available.
As a bonus, breast milk is also gentle on a baby’s sensitive skin. Simply dab a little breast milk on their skin after feedings to reduce inflammation and gradually treat the acne.
You can use a clean finger to apply the breast milk, or dip a cotton ball in breast milk and then gently rub the cotton over your baby’s acne.
Since breast milk is gentle, you can use this natural remedy several times throughout the day until the acne clears.
But while breast milk is a natural remedy, it isn’t the only remedy to help get rid of stubborn baby acne. Here are a few tips to help clear your baby’s skin:
- Bathe your baby. Newborns don’t need to be bathed daily. But you can give your baby a bath using warm water and mild baby soap to gently cleanse their pores. Baby soap is gentle and delicate to their sensitive skin, thus less likely to cause skin irritation.
- Don’t put lotion on your baby’s face. Clogged pores can cause acne, so only use moisturizing body lotion that’s designed for a baby’s sensitive skin. Also, choose baby lotion that’s fragrant-free and nongreasy to avoid skin irritation. Try these options.
- Don’t scrub bumps. When bathing your baby or applying breast milk to acne, be gentle and don’t scrub. Accidentally popping acne bumps can cause scarring or a skin infection. Also, take steps to prevent your baby from scratching their own acne. Cover their hands with socks or mittens, and keep their nails trimmed.
When it comes to getting rid of baby acne, patience is key. The acne is temporary and often clears up on its own within months. If the acne is mild and doesn’t appear to bother your baby, treatment isn’t necessary.
For stubborn baby acne that persists for several months after birth, or doesn’t respond to home remedies, your pediatrician might prescribe a medicated cream.
But don’t use over-the-counter medication to treat your baby’s acne. These products contain ingredients that might be too harsh for your baby’s skin.
Keep in mind, too, that baby acne can mimic other conditions like eczema, an allergic reaction, rash, and milia. See your pediatrician if you believe your baby has another skin condition.
Breast milk isn’t only helpful for clearing baby acne. Surprisingly, breast milk has several other unexpected benefits. A few drops might help soothe the following conditions:
- ear infections
- skin rash
- sore nipples
- teething pain
Baby acne is a common problem that affects many infants, so don’t be alarmed if you notice little whiteheads in the weeks or months after delivery.
These bumps will go away on their own, but in the meantime, home remedies can help clear your baby’s skin faster without causing irritation. If you have any concerns, though, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician.