It is worthwhile to note that what has traditionally been called neonatal acne is also being referred to as “neonatal cephalic pustulosis.” What a mouthful. It is no wonder pediatricians still just call this benign temporary condition “neonatal acne.”
The academic move to rename this benign condition is because there is another condition called “infantile acne” that needs to be seen by a pediatric dermatologist. Infantile acne is quite rare compared to “neonatal acne” and shows up for the first time around 2 months later than the typical time when neonatal acne appears.
In case you are wondering, “infantile acne” (again much more rare) can have blackheads (open comedones) and starts after 2 months of age.
It is hypothesized that neonatal acne may be associated with yeasts that normally live on everyone from newborns to adults. It just so happens that the same or a similar yeast (fungus) is also the likely cause of cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis) and dandruff.
The usual teaching of how to deal with neonatal acne is to wash the face with soap and water, and it will just disappear in about a month. Occasionally an anti-fungal cream is prescribed by your health care provider.
There is oftentimes overlap with neonatal acne and cradle cap. They can both be happening simultaneously.
A gentle medicated baby shampoo for Cradle Cap containing Pyrithione Zinc is an excellent way to quickly remedy cradle cap, and it just so happens that the same cradle cap shampoo can also be used as a face wash that can soothe neonatal acne.