What Parents Need to Know About Treating Baby Eczema vs. Acne

What Parents Need to Know About Treating Baby Eczema vs. Acne

It can be heartbreaking to see angry red blotches flare up on tender babies’ skin—and frustrating to try to figure out what’s causing the redness and how to deal with it.

The culprit could be baby acne or eczema, two common skin conditions for babies that usually begin affecting infants between one and six months old. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, baby acne occurs in about 20 percent of newborns. According to HealthyChildren.org, the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least one in 10 children have eczema.

 Skin irritations can result in tears and meltdowns—for both babies and parents. The good news is that both conditions can be treated naturally with coconut oil. In order to determine the best course of treatment, it’s important to know the major differences between baby eczema vs. acne.


What does baby acne look like?

Baby acne tends to show up as small red and/or white bumps in the following areas:

  • Anywhere on the face, especially cheeks, nose, and forehead
  • Scalp
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Chest

It often develops within the first two to four weeks after birth, usually self-resolves by age six months to one year and doesn’t leave scars. In some cases, it can persist into the teen years.


Can eczema look like acne?

Eczema looks more like a dry, red and scaly rash that can get weepy, due to pus-filled blisters. (No wonder it’s uncomfortable!) It usually appears in the same places as baby acne, but can also show up in parts of the body where sitting, scooting or crawling causes friction:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Lower legs
  • Ankles
  • Feet

Rarely does the diaper area show signs of eczema. In terms of babies’ comfort, the difference between baby eczema vs. acne is that eczema can itch quite painfully and even become infected. It develops a little later than baby acne—anytime between six months and five years of age—and can last longer if untreated.


What causes baby acne?

There’s also a difference in the causes of baby acne vs. eczema. While the exact cause of baby acne is unknown, dermatologists believe it’s connected to one or both of the following:

  • Inflammation from yeast on babies’ skin
  • Overstimulated oil glands on babies’ skin brought on by contact with hormones in the placenta

Experts agree that baby acne is completely unrelated to the type of acne teenagers experience and has nothing to do with the baby’s or mother’s diet.


What causes eczema in babies?

Baby eczema, however, does seem to be somewhat related to adult eczema in that many of the causes are the same, including:

  • Genetics
  • Allergies
  • Environmental irritants such as certain soaps or rough fabrics (like wool) and dust mites
  • Frequent exposure to water (aka too many long, hot baths)
  • Exposure to dry, winter air
  • Being hot and sweaty


How do you treat baby eczema?

This is where Bubbsi shines! (Sweta, Bubbsi’s original ecze-mama, launched Bubbsi after treating her daughter’s eczema with messy-but-effective coconut oil.) 

Start by bathing your child suffering with eczema only when needed. (See our post How to Bathe Kids and Babies with Dry Skin for more details.) It’s important to use non-irritating products that are free of harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances and dyes—aka our Creamy Coconut Oil Shampoo + Wash

Keeping skin moisturized is also key to taming or avoiding flare-ups. Here is Bubbsi’s recommended eczema skin routine, which includes doing the following: 

  • Massage baby with a generous layer of Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream
  • Lock in the moisture with Coconut Oil Balm to help relieve itching and protect the skin from external irritants like laundry detergent
  • On bath days, apply both within three minutes of getting out of the water to achieve the best results


How do you get rid of baby acne?

For baby acne, most experts advise not applying too much product. Instead, wash as normal with Creamy Coconut Oil Shampoo + Wash, then moisturize with a thin layer of Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream. No need to layer Coconut Oil Balm in the acne trouble spots (although, it still works magic on other skin irritations, like cradle cap and diaper rash!).

Determining whether your baby has baby eczema vs. acne not only helps you know how to treat flare-ups, it can also be preventative. Regardless of whether you choose a daily routine suited to baby acne or eczema, the moisturizing and anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties of hypo-allergenic coconut oil will provide soothing relief, calm redness, help keep itching and infections at bay, and leave babies’ skin feeling soft and smooth.


Hear it from another mama:


“I love this cream for my kids!  My daughter has eczema and finding something that keeps her skin moisturized and keeps flare-ups at bay has been quite the journey. We use the oil on top of the cream in the evenings after bath and just the oil in the mornings - She likes that it's not cold! I must admit - I really like the oil balm for myself. I typically opt out of lotions but it leaves my skin silky smooth with an incredible subtle scent!” —Venus

Bubbsi beats Aquaphor!
“We recently tried out the new Bubbsi balm and cream, and my 3 year old son loves them! The texture of the balm is moisturizing yet glides smoothly, making it a welcome alternative to Aquaphor, which was always our go-to for particularly dry areas before. My son has some eczema, and the coconut seems to decrease the inflammation more than other products. Finally, as my son told me, “I like the name Bubbsi!” This is a terrific natural product with an adorable package. We 💕 Bubbsi!” —Rupa

Saving Grace!
“I bought this as a last, very desperate attempt to help with my daughters out control eczema. After trying pretty much EVERY lotion, soap and topical prescription medications nothing was helping my 5 yo skin. Her dermatologist wanted her on steroids and I REALLY did not want that. After just 3 short days her redness was gone and the dry patches are shrinking. I could not be happier. I 100% recommend this to any other parents who have kiddos with sensitive/troubled skin. Thank you Bubbsi, for helping my daughter and making such an amazing product! Love, a forever grateful Mama.” —Francesca

Just The Best
Honestly haven't used anything else on my baby since I bought this set. It cured her baby acne, cradle cap, diaper rash, etc etc Not to mention it keeps her skin soft and smelling so delicious with no yuck artificial scents or colors. Only thing we need on our shelf and the refill sizes make it easy to store and stock up. Amazing stuff. xx —Crystal

Shop the Post

Check out the sets below to treat your baby's acne or eczema issues. 

Bubbsi Newborn Starter Set
newborn starter set
body cream + oil balm + shampoo wash