Baby Acne, Prepubertal Acne and Rosacea, Oh My!
It's possible to be afflicted with acne in one form or another from the cradle to the grave. Fortunately, most of us only suffer from it for a period of several years in our lives, and then move on. Others, however, have to deal with it before, during and long after puberty.
Babies (as well as kids and grown-ups) can develop a form of acne called milia. This appears in the form of little white bumps across the face, usually on the nose or around the eyes. This is extremely common, occurring in about half of all babies. If your infant has milia, it's nothing to freak out about -- in fact, if your pediatrician confirms it is just milia, the doctor's orders will be to do absolutely nothing about the condition. It will clear up in its own good time. Researchers believe milia in infants is the result of undeveloped sebaceous glands, which causes these little cysts to develop in the pores and hair follicles.
A considerably more rare form of acne is prepubertal acne. This is nonmilial acne that forms in children before the first physical signs of puberty, such as the growth of pubic hair. Prepubertal acne may be caused by an imbalance in androgens, which are sex hormones such as testerone. While these hormones greatly increase at puberty and signal the body to initiate its growth changes, a premature release of androgens may cause sebum levels to also increase before puberty. Children who show signs of prepubertal acne should be checked out by a doctor.
Persistent and returning bouts of acne are sometimes caused by a condition called rosacea. Rosacea tends to show up and disappear on its own time table, and months can pass between flare-ups. When it does become active, it passes through several stages. As these stages progress, the condition worsens and will usually continue to worsen until medical treatment is sought.
A person experiencing prerosacea will notice an increased amount of what appears to be blushing, or getting flushed easily. This is because blood vessels in the face are dilating more than they should. Worse, this redness tends to center itself in the face, so that, come December, your nose may very well be guiding the sleigh. Rosacea ultimately causes outbreaks that look a lot like acne vulgaris: pimples, bumps and a rashy redness. However, it can cause dilation of blood vessels in the nose (so that it looks like you've been drinking heavily) and even swelling of the nose.