baby with acne on cheeks

Eczema or Baby Acne: Which Is It?

Baby acne and baby eczema are two common skin conditions typically affecting babies when they are between one and six months old. As both cause rash-like patches on the skin, it can be tricky to differentiate between the two.

Keep reading to learn how to spot the difference between eczema and baby acne so you can better treat your baby’s skin.

If your little one is suffering from eczema, please bear in mind that we are in no way medical professionals. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or infections, speak to a medical professional as soon as possible.

What is Baby Acne?

Baby acne affects an estimated 20% of newborns. Typically developing at around 2 weeks old, it can develop at any point before 6 months. In terms of appearance, it looks similar to adult acne, characterized by a breakout of yellow or red spots and pimples on the face, neck, chest, and back.

It is triggered by common factors such as oils, bacteria and hormones. In fact, one of the main reasons baby acne is worse during a baby’s first month of birth is because the baby’s own oils are mingling with their mother’s hormones.

If baby acne occurs in conjunction with cradle cap, the acne on the eyebrows or around the nose can appear red and inflamed.

What is Eczema?

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition identified by patches of red, dry, and itchy skin. Essentially, those with eczema have sensitive skin that is easily irritated by things such as weather conditions, rough fabrics, pet fur, certain foods, and chemicals found in soaps and beauty products. For babies in particular, drooling can also cause flare-ups - especially as they begin to teethe.

In babies, eczema typically appears on the cheeks and outer sides of the arms and legs. As people age, eczema affects different parts of the body, such as the scalp, feet and hands.

Eczema symptoms:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Intense itchiness
  • Red or inflamed patches
  • Oozing skin

Baby Eczema vs Baby Acne: How to Tell Them Apart

Although baby acne and eczema may look quite similar, it’s important to be able to tell them apart as they require different treatments. Here are some key differences:


As mentioned above, baby acne is similar to adult acne in that it appears as pimples or spots on the face and other parts of the body. Eczema appears as a rash. For little ones under 6 months old, it usually appears as red and weepy. If infected, the skin can develop a yellow crust or lumps containing pus.

While both conditions are red, baby acne is bumpy and is not itchy.

Affected Areas of the Body

Though there is some overlap, the two conditions affect different areas of the body.

Baby acne breakouts usually develops on the:

  • forehead
  • chin
  • scalp
  • neck
  • back
  • chest

Baby eczema will typically appears on the:

  • face
  • cheeks
  • chin
  • forehead
  • Scalp


Baby acne will generally develop in the first 6 weeks after birth. Eczema, on the other hand, can develop anytime between 6 months and 5 years of age.

Natural Treatments for Both

Baby Acne

While baby acne will usually disappear on its own, there are some ways to soothe your little one’s skin in the meantime. Bear in mind that baby acne is different than adult acne - so never use adult medicine on a baby! Be gentle and avoid rubbing or scrubbing the affected area. When bathing your little one, use lukewarm water as opposed to hot water. Finally, avoid any oily or greasy skin care products.

For more tips on bathing your little one, make sure to check out our post: 4 Types of Baths for Babies with Eczema

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe creams to prevent scarring.

For Baby Eczema

For baby eczema, there are several different treatments can help ease the symptoms and reduce itching. Moisturizing is highly important. This itchy eczema treatment by Emily Skin Soothers is gentle enough for babies. Made with only the most natural ingredients, your little one’s skin will thank you.

The delicate skin of little ones will also benefit from our Body Essentials Bundle which features a soothing soap and our best-selling Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream.

To protect your baby’s skin from scratching, try these ScratchSleeves with Scratch Mittens. Have no fear that your little Houdini will be able to take them off - these soft silk mittens actually stay put. Preventing scratching is the first step for healing eczema.

Another great way to ensure your baby gets a good night’s rest is by keeping their skin covered from head to toe. That’s why we love this Organic Cotton One Piece PJ with mittens, the fabric is soft, breathable, and cooling.

For more tips on soothing baby eczema, check out our post 5 Treatments for Babies with Eczema.



Bio: Laura is a contributor and content developer for The Eczema Company. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes.