Kissing and cuddling our babies makes us feel good, so we want to do it all the time.
It is truly one of the greatest joys of parenthood.
Is there any purest form of expressing affection than kissing these sweet chubby cheeks, the tiny nose, or adorable little feet?
But hang on. Why is the face of my little tot all covered with red pimples? Did she get that from kissing?
Let’s discuss why your little one has acne, the consequences of kissing your baby, and whether the two are connected.
Can Kisses Cause Baby Acne?
The short answer is no – kisses won’t cause acne in your baby. Acne is not a virus or bacteria that your baby will catch from another person. Acne can be triggered by hormones, harsh detergents that may irritate a baby’s delicate skin. That doesn’t mean kissing your baby won’t cause any harm. In fact, there are several diseases that you can easily pass on to a baby by kissing. Aside from the common cold, flu, sore cold, or warts, you can also introduce to your baby bacteria that cause teeth decay, RSV. Kissing can even trigger an allergic reaction!
1. What Is Baby Acne?
The most common reason for red bumps on a baby’s face is acne.
Baby acne is a mild skin condition that affects around 80% of newborn babies within the first 6 weeks of their lives.
Sometimes older babies can develop infantile acne, which is another beast altogether, which I will cover in another post.
So, baby acne appears primarily on their cheeks, forehead, nose, or chin. However, it may also spread to their heads, backs, and necks.
It may look like red or white bumps surrounded by red skin. The skin condition worsens if the baby is in a warm bath or cries hard.
What is Baby Acne? – Boys Town Pediatrics
2. Common Skin Conditions That Are Often Mistaken for Acne
Now, baby acne is often mistaken for other, similar skin conditions. Some of them are listed below, along with their main characteristics:
- Eczema – causing baby skin to be red, dry, cracked, swollen, and itchy. Affected areas may be covered by red, small rough bumps that leak fluid. It can show up literally anywhere on the body, but most commonly is found on hands, neck, elbows, knees, ankles, and feet.
- Milia – It appears in the same places as acne – cheeks, nose, and chin. But it looks different – they are tiny white or yellowish bumps.
- Heat rash – appears as tiny red pimples on the head, neck, and shoulders. Sometimes, it may take the form of fluid-filled blisters.
- Nappy rash – is a mild skin irritation affecting the nappy area. It makes the baby’s skin colour angry-red, hot, and sore. If untreated, it can develop into pimples or painful blisters.
- Chickenpox – is a viral disease that causes red, blistery, itchy spots. They can appear on the baby’s head and torso. It may spread to other body parts. After the blisters break, they will turn into dry, brown scabs as they heal.
- Insect bites – appear as small, red, puffy lumps on the skin that may be painful or itchy.
- Measles – flat red spots that usually start at the head, face, and spread down to the neck, arms, legs, and feet. As the skin heals, it may peel off.
- Hand-mouth-foot disease – a viral disease that causes flat red spots, sometimes with fluid-filled blisters. It affects the baby’s tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, buttocks, palms, and soles.
3. What causes Baby Acne?
There are a few reasons why your baby may develop acne.
- Maternal hormones
Maternal hormones are the primary reason triggering acne development in babies. Babies are exposed to their mom’s hormones during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It may take a few weeks for these hormones to settle down completely. But until then, their skin may experience some breakouts.
*** As a side note, there are many surprising effects that maternal hormones can trigger in babies. One of these is the development of breast tissue or the leaking of a milky substance from their nipples!
I talked about it in detail in my post – 7 Weird And Surprising Facts That no one Told You
- Breastfeeding mom’s diet and medication
Another reason your little one has acne flare-ups could be a nursing mom’s diet and medications she may be taking. Especially a diet rich in fats, sugars, and dairy may trigger acne in babies.
- Cleaning detergents
We all know that a baby’s skin is extremely delicate. As a result, harsh chemicals used in cleaning detergents and laundry products can irritate a baby’s skin. This can lead to acne – or make it worse.
Therefore, it is always recommended to use a detergent designed for baby skin (such as gentle, non-bio washing products).
Also, it is worth noting that baby formula or even spit-ups can trigger acne problems.
However, what won’t give them acne are kisses.
But unfortunately, there are more severe illnesses that can potentially be passed to your baby via close physical contact, such as kissing.
So, let’s discuss what these diseases may be.
4. What Are The Risks Of Kissing Babies?
Kissing a baby poses some serious risks. It is true that every human being, including you and me, has thousands of germs living on their skin, nose, mouth, hair, and inside their bodies. At our fingertips alone, there are between 2 and 10 million bacteria. How terrifying and gross is that?!
The germs (bacteria, yeast, and viruses) can be easily spread by physical contact between you and your baby.
With the baby’s immune system so vulnerable, they should stay away from any extra germs.
Babies get enough “normal” exposure to germs every day. Adding more microbes could overwhelm their immune systems and make them ill.
Having said that, you shouldn’t keep your baby in a sterile cocoon either to prevent microbe exposure. That won’t help them either.
After all, they need to build their immune system. And that can be done if they are infected by various microbes that their body learns to fight.
But, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be kissing your tiny tot if you are unwell.
Especially if you have one of the easily transmittable illnesses, such as the common cold, flu, active sore colds or warts, or chickenpox.
These can be easily spread to your baby – especially if you kiss them on their lips! Therefore, if you are infected with any of these, you should not kiss your baby until you fully recover from it.
Now, kissing can also spread less obvious conditions.
- Tooth decay and gum problems
Yeah, indeed, you can really spread cavity-causing germs to your baby with your kisses.
Research shows that approximately 30% of 3-month-olds and 60% of 6-month-olds are infected by cavity-causing bacteria – Streptococcus mutans. Most likely, they were spread by parents and careers via kissing and sharing utensils.
But you can keep your bacteria in check by maintaining good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth twice a day and daily flossing.
Also, avoid sharing drinks or utensils with them because that’s another way to introduce a new strain of harmful bacteria to your baby. Although, this is easier said than done because how else will we check the food temperature if we don’t try it first, right?
- Allergic reaction
Innocent kisses can cause a reaction if you eat something your baby is allergic to!
Even if you brushed your teeth thoroughly and long hours have passed since you ate the allergen. You may still have food stuck between your teeth and lingering in your saliva.
Furthermore, the reaction can be severe, including swelling of lips and throat, itching, wheezing, and rash.
Fortunately, such reactions are rare.
If you want to be on the safe side, avoid kissing your baby on the lips. Stick to the cheeks or forehead instead!
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) virus
Many parents confuse RSV with cold or flu because of similar symptoms.
But RSV can be potentially a life-threatening illness for babies. It may lead to bronchiolitis, pneumonia, or lung disease. Since it takes around 8 years for the lungs to fully develop – any respiratory problem can be hazardous to a baby!
Except for the typical cold-like symptoms, babies can develop difficulty breathing with a high-pitched wheezing noise when breathing. They can be unsettled, refuse to eat or cough with mucus.
Often, babies with these symptoms require hospitalization. These severe symptoms are more common in vulnerable young babies born prematurely or those with a weakened immune system. Children older than 2 are at a much lower risk of developing RSV illness.
Spreading RSV can be avoided if you maintain good personal hygiene. And, of course, if you temporarily suspend kissing your baby if you feel a little under the weather.
5. Final few lines
The bottom line is – kissing your baby won’t cause an outbreak of acne on her face. Acne is usually caused by maternal hormones, a nursing mom’s diet, or harsh laundry detergent that may irritate delicate baby skin.
But kissing a baby may, in fact, have more severe consequences. As a form of close physical contact, germs can spread and infect your babies.
Except for the cold, flu, and more severe RSV virus, you can give your baby a cold sore, warts, gum problems, tooth decay, or trigger an allergic reaction.
So just be mindful of that and keep spreading your kisses only if you are bursting with good health.