Acne or acne-like eruptions on the skin can occur in children of any age however it is very unusual for it to occur in children between the ages of 2 and 6 years. This period is often referred to as the acne-free zone because oil gland activity in the skin is at its lowest during this period.
In children, acne has two important ages of occurrence. Firstly, acne can occur from about 2 weeks of age. This is referred to as neonatal acne or more recently ‘neonatal cephalic pustulosis’. Secondly, acne may develop in older children, from about the age of 3-6 months. This is more commonly known as infantile acne and may persist until puberty.
Dermatologists at the Acne Specialist Clinics treat acne in all ages, from infantile acne, teenage age thru to hormonal acne. An acne treatment program initiated early can help prevent or reduce acne scarring.
Specialist Perspective on acne management in children
Acne in children can be more distressing for the parent than the child, however as children reach their teenage years and are more self-conscious, treating acne at this stage is important. Most cases of childhood acne can be managed with a combination of creams containing Vitamin A and antibiotic lotions and gels. If acne is potentially scarring, treatments such as isotretinoin maybe considered. Early, safe and effective management of childhood acne can reduce or even prevent long term scarring.
The cause of neonatal and infantile acne is unknown. In neonatal acne, certain types of yeast that live on the skin may be a cause. Hormones passed from the mother to the baby during the end of pregnancy may also be involved through their action on the oil glands in the skin.
Infantile acne likely has an inherited tendency. Generally, hormones are not thought to cause it. However, other medical problems associated with abnormal levels of hormones can amongst other things, cause acne in children.
In some cases, irritation from soaps, lotions, fabrics and food or milk can cause acne-like rashes on babies face. On occasion, medications and other illnesses can also play a role. Where cases of acne in babies and infants do not clear after a few weeks, review by a specialist Dermatologist is recommended.
In most babies with acne there is no need for investigations. In older children where it is suspected that there may be hormonal abnormalities, your specialist Dermatologist may perform some screening blood tests to look for various hormones and other tests.
Neonatal acne generally clears up without treatment. This may take a few weeks. It generally does not cause scarring to the baby’s skin. Occasionally, an antifungal cream may be beneficial and may help speed up the resolution of the acne. Gentle soap free cleansers may also be helpful.
Infantile acne is generally treated in a similar way to teenager acne. Gentle soap free cleansers and non-comedogenic moisturisers are useful. Often, topical treatments such as creams and gels containing benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics are used. Occasionally, treatment with antibiotic tablets may be required, particularly where the acne is stubborn or severe. Antibiotics that are used include erythromycin and trimethoprim. Your specialist Dermatologist may need to use a special vitamin A drug called isotretinoin in some cases, particularly where there is a risk of scarring from the acne or it is not responding to other treatments.
If any underlying medical condition is identified in the screening tests ordered by your doctor, these must also be treated in order to adequately treat the child’s acne.
There is a risk that children with severe infantile acne may be more likely to develop acne at puberty. Talk to your dermatologist to discuss strategies to manage this should it occur.
Acne in children can results in scars, however in many cases if acne is managed early and appropriately scarring can be minimised. Young skin has an amazing ability to heal and acne scaring is no exception. We do not advocate any laser acne scar treatments in children, however a new method of scar revision is very well tolerated. This form of acne scar treatment does not utilize heat or light, and does not break the upper layers of the skin. Radiofrequency gentle heats and breaks down scars which lie under the skin’s surface.
Radiofrequency or RF treatments are spaced 3-4 weeks apart and can help remodel early acne scarring. Specialists recommend a series of 4 treatments. Downtime is less than 12-24 hours, and RF is very well tolerated- even in children. This form of acne scar revision can be used in children over the age of 8. It is safe, and in the correct application, it is an effective method of acne scar revision.
The Acne Specialist Clinics at Westside Dermatology has a team of consultant dermatologists and specialist nurses to diagnose, and treat all forms of acne and acne scarring.
If acne occurs under the age of 12, a Paediatric Dermatologist will help manage this condition. Dermatologists who see children include Dr Belle Cominos, Dr Asoka Herat, Dr Tania Zepalla, Dr Shiva Baghei, and Dr Scott Webber.
A referral from your GP will entitle patients to claim a rebate from Medicare.
For more information on the referral process to the Acne Specialist Clinic, call reception on 07 3871 34 37.