Baby Eczema vs. Acne: How to Tell the Difference - Gladskin

Baby Eczema vs. Acne: How to Tell the Difference

Infants and newborns don’t always have baby-soft skin. Baby acne and eczema are two common conditions that affect babies’ skin, and they can be difficult to distinguish

Understanding the differences between baby acne vs eczema will help you determine the best ways to care for your little one’s skin. So, let’s talk about baby eczema vs. acne — how they look, what areas of the body they affect, when they’re likely to occur, and how to treat each skin condition.

What Is Baby Eczema?

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy patches of skin that can appear red or dark depending on your skin color. Eczema also causes scaling, crusting, oozing, and swelling of the skin. The inflammatory condition most often begins in babies between 3 and 6 months. Baby eczema usually appears on the face and scalp within the first 6 months of life and often develops on the knees and elbows between 6 and 12 months of age.

What Is Baby Acne?

Baby acne, also known as neonatal acne, causes pimples that often appear on a baby’s face, neck, chest, or back. Some babies will have acne from birth; however, the skin condition commonly begins around 2 weeks of age. Baby acne typically resolves without treatment in a few weeks or months depending on the severity. Acne after 6 weeks of age is classified as infantile acne, which is less common than neonatal acne. 

The Difference Between Baby Acne and Eczema

Baby acne and eczema are often confused because of their similar appearance. By understanding the key differences in the two skin conditions, you can more easily tell them apart.


Baby acne appears as small pimples often on the face. Eczema can be bumpy too, but you’ll also likely see dry, flaky patches of skin. Notice whether your baby is itchy and scratching at their skin—itch is a key symptom of eczema, but baby acne doesn’t itch.

Area of the Body

Baby eczema and acne both frequently appear on the forehead, chin, and scalp. However, baby acne also often appears on the neck, back, and chest. Eczema tends to appear on the elbows and knees, whereas acne doesn’t.


Baby acne typically develops before eczema. Babies develop neonatal acne within the first 6 weeks after birth. Baby eczema doesn’t typically onset until 3 to 6 months of age. 

For an accurate diagnosis, consult your child’s pediatrician or a board-certified dermatologist. They can make a diagnosis based on your child’s unique skin to ensure a proper treatment plan.

How to Treat Baby Acne

In most cases, neonatal acne doesn’t require treatment. It often subsides on its own in a few weeks to months. To help prevent worsening acne or irritation, stay away from cleansers and soaps that contain fragrances and aren’t formulated for infant skin. Pat your baby’s skin dry instead of rubbing it. Avoid overwashing the skin to avoid drying it out. Also skip oily skincare products that can clog the pores. Lastly, don’t use adult acne medicine on your baby—any products you use should be specifically designed for infant skin. 

To learn more about newborn skin care, check out our article Newborn Skin Care & How to Avoid Dry Skin.

How to Treat Baby Eczema

Many babies grow out of their eczema. While there is no cure for eczema, implementing lifestyle changes and caring for the overall health of your baby’s skin can improve symptoms and make your child more comfortable.

To minimize eczema flare-ups and soothe uncomfortable symptoms:

  • Help prevent scratching. Scratching makes rashes worse. Sharp nails can break open the skin, creating more inflammation and a greater risk of infection. Keep your baby’s nails trimmed and filed. Have your little one wear mittens so they don’t damage their skin while scratching. 

  • Keep your little one cool. Heat and sweat trigger eczema and make itching worse. Make sure to dress your baby in breathable, cotton clothes and avoid over-layering blankets. Bath time should also be short and sweet, with lukewarm water.

  • Choose gentle skincare products. Avoid bath and skincare products that contain fragrances and harsh ingredients. Look for minimally formulated products designed for young children with eczema-prone skin. The National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance indicates that a product is eczema-friendly, free of harmful ingredients, and has undergone rigorous testing.

  • To better understand your baby’s eczema and how to treat it, check out our eczema resources for parents.

    Incorporate Gladskin Into Your Baby's Care Routine 

    Gladskin’s Eczemact™ Soothing Cream for Babies and Kids is dermatologist approved for babies ages 3 months and up. It’s steroid-free, minimally formulated, and contains Micreobalance, our patented protein that restores balance to your baby’s skin microbiome. Here’s what parents and caregivers are saying: 


    “I am a pharmacist, and have tried so many products for my daughter (now 2 years old), this is the first product that has kept her eczema from flaring up. I use this twice a day almost daily on her. Would highly recommend this product. Also, my dermatologist was impressed with the results!”

    A godsend!

    “We have been struggling for a year and a half, watching our baby feel terrible with itchy skin that would break down to raw. After many doctor appointments including a pediatric allergist, we were recommended Glad skin by our pediatrician and in just a week we saw remarkable improvement! After 2 weeks you would have never even believed how bad her skin had looked with how clear and comfortable she is now!”

    I can't say enough about this

    “My kiddo has been struggling with eczema on his knees/elbows for MONTHS. I tried everything. I was DILIGENT about putting cream on him, we did cortisone, we did all the things. Nothing helped. Within 4 days of using Gladskin, the eczema was completely gone. I can't even believe it. Thank you for an amazing product.”

    The best lotion for eczema! (I’ve tried it all!!)

    “Love this lotion for my baby! my son has dry skin and eczema. This lotion has helped SO much! We can’t quite figure out what’s triggering his breakouts but the lotion keeps his skin moisturized even after hours (some other lotions and Aquaphor after an hour was dry!) and has improved his eczema on his cheeks and the back of his legs. I know it worked because If I stop using this, he flares up!”
    A bottle of Gladskin Eczema Cream is pictured next to text that reads ":Better science, better skin."


    Bring Back Baby-Soft Skin

    Understanding whether your baby is experiencing baby acne or eczema is the first step in helping soothe their discomfort and minimize symptoms. For a proper diagnosis, see your child’s pediatrician or a board-certified dermatologist. They’ll also be able to rule out skin infections or other types of irritated skin. (In fact, baby eczema is often confused with baby drool rash.)

    If the doctor determines your child has baby acne, treatment may not be necessary. Baby eczema may require lifestyle changes, over the counter products, and and your doctor may recommend medication if warranted.