Pediatric Dermatology

Neonatal and Infantile Acne Vulgaris: An Update

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Differential Diagnosis

Infantile acne often is misdiagnosed because it is rarely considered in the differential diagnosis. When closed comedones predominate, acne venenata induced by topical creams, lotions, or oils may be etiologic. Chloracne also should be considered.14


Guardians should be educated about the likely chronicity of infantile acne, which may require long-term treatment, as well as the possibility that acne may recur in severe form during puberty.1 The treatment strategy for infantile acne is similar to treatment of acne at any age, with topical agents including retinoids (eg, tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide) and topical antibacterials (eg, erythromycin). Twice-daily erythromycin 125 to 250 mg is the treatment of choice when oral antibiotics are indicated. Tetracyclines are contraindicated in treatment of neonatal and infantile acne. Intralesional injections with low-concentration triamcinolone acetonide, cryotherapy, or topical corticosteroids for a short period of time can be used to treat deep nodules and cysts.2 Acne that is refractory to treatment with oral antibiotics alone or combined with topical treatments poses a dilemma, given the potential cosmetic sequelae of scarring and quality-of-life concerns. Because reducing or eliminating dairy intake appears beneficial for adolescents with moderate to severe acne,27 this approach may represent a good option for infantile acne.


Neonatal and infantile acne vulgaris may be overlooked or misdiagnosed. It is important to consider and treat. Early childhood acne may represent a virilization syndrome.


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