Rash or acne?

Rashes and other minor skin disruptions on your toddler’s face are very common and can be caused by a number of things. No need to worry – puberty is still years away! These blemishes are temporary and infrequent, and – most importantly – are not true acne.

Although babies sometimes have acne, it resolves by the time they are 12 months old. Acne in children between the ages of 1 and 7  (mid-childhood acne) is extremely rare because children of those ages do not normally produce significant levels of the hormones which cause it.  

In toddlers, the odd blemish or breakout is usually a reaction to hormones or allergens. Toddlers can develop skin reactions to hormones in dairy products, but can also break out from reactions to soap, other cleansers, or various other foods, especially as they are just beginning to eat a wide variety of solids. Toddlers who are breastfeeding can even have skin reactions to foods or medications their mother has taken in. The blemishes can be treated by washing with soap and water. There’s no need to use any special skin care products on them, and in fact, introducing new products may further irritate the skin. The blemishes will go away on their own once the substance which caused the reaction is eliminated, so you can try eliminating suspect foods or switching laundry detergents.

When to call a healthcare provider

If the blemishes don’t go away on their own after a few days, look more like actual pimples, or are painful, there may be something else going on, and a visit to your child’s healthcare provider is necessary. True mid-childhood acne is extremely rare, but does still happen and may mean there is a larger issue at hand. If true mid-childhood acnes is suspected, the child may be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist.

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