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.

Facts on Acne in children

Neonatal acne

  • Often few or no comedones (blackheads and whiteheads)
  • occurs in more than 20% of healthy newborns
  • occurs from about 2 weeks of age
  • usually clears by about 3 months of age
  • most often affects the cheeks and nose
  • cause is not clear – certain types of yeast which grows on the skin (Malassezia) are thought to play a role
  • may also be caused by high hormone levels in this age group acting upon sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin
  • often resolves without medical treatment
  • an antifungal cream or lotion (ketoconazole) or benzoyl peroxide products are often effective treatment

Infantile acne

  • occurs in children from about 3-6 months of age
  • it is more common in boys
  • comedones much more common than in neonatal acne
  • larger pimples and cysts can occur
  • may lead to scarring
  • often due to hormonal imbalances with higher levels of hormones such as luteinizing hormone, testosterone and DHEA
  • usually clears within 1-2 years as hormone levels normalize but can persist into puberty
  • treatment with vitamin A based creams and gels or benzoyl peroxide is often helpful
  • severe cases may require systemic (tablet) treatment

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