Milia are tiny white bumps that most commonly appear across a baby's nose, chin or cheeks. Although milia can develop at any age, these tiny white bumps are common among newborns. In fact, up to half of all babies develop milia. You can't prevent milia, but the good news is that milia usually disappear on their own in a few weeks. The best treatment for milia is usually none at all.
Milia are most commonly seen on a baby's nose, chin or cheeks, though they may also occur in other areas, such as on the upper trunk and limbs.
Sometimes similar bumps appear on a baby's gums or the roof of the mouth. These are known as Epstein pearls. Some babies also develop baby acne, often characterized by small red bumps and pustules on the cheeks, chin and forehead.
When to see a doctor
If you're concerned about your baby's complexion or it doesn't clear up within three months, consult your baby's doctor.
Milia develop when tiny skin flakes become trapped in small pockets near the surface of the skin.
If you're following a standard well-check schedule, your baby will likely visit with your family doctor or pediatrician soon. These regular appointments offer a good opportunity to discuss concerns about your baby's health. For milia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Is my baby's condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- Are there any treatments available for this condition?
- Are there any skin care restrictions I need to follow?
Milia are easy to see on a baby's skin. No specific testing is needed.
Milia typically disappear on their own within several weeks, and no medical treatment is recommended.
Try these tips to help your baby's skin look its best:
- Keep your baby's face clean. Wash your baby's face with warm water daily. If your baby's skin seems oily, especially around the nose area, you can also use a mild moisturizing soap, such as Dove.
- Dry your baby's face gently. Simply pat your baby's skin dry.
- Avoid any other type of treatment. Don't pinch or scrub the tiny bumps, and don't use any type of lotions, oils or medicated creams on your baby's skin. Simply wash your baby's face with warm water and look forward to the clearer days ahead.
There's little you can do to prevent milia. Simply wash your baby's face with warm water and look forward to the clearer days ahead.
June 12, 2012
- Berk DR, et al. Milia: A review and classification. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2008;59:1050.
- Rashes and skin conditions. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Rashes-and-Skin-Conditions.aspx. Accessed April 20, 2012.
- O'Connor NR, et al. Newborn skin: Part I. Common rashes. American Family Physician. 2008;77:47.
- Hay WW, et al., eds. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6580202. Accessed April 17, 2012.