Milia and Baby Acne
What Are Those Bumps?
Your beautiful newborn has suddenly broken out in bumps all over her tiny nose and cheeks. It is upsetting to see and you don't know if she's in pain or itchy, or if they're contagious. You wonder if it is a rash that will spread all over her little body.
Take a deep breath and relax, these little bumps are very common in newborns and they're called milia. Whether few or many, about 40 percent of all newborns sport these bumps that are most frequently seen on their cheeks, nose, or chin. They're harmless and although they look rashy, they aren't painful or contagious. The good news is that in a couple of weeks, they'll be gone. Similar spots on the baby's gums or on the roof of the mouth are called Epstein's pearls and they are also harmless.
Leave Them Alone
Milia are dead skin that is trapped near the surface of the skin. As the layer of skin that has trapped the dead skin wears off, the trapped skin will slough off. It isn't necessary to treat them with anything - leave them be and they'll go away on their own.
It isn't recommended to put anything on them like oils or creams, and trying to hasten their removal by squeezing them will probably scar the baby's skin. Scrubbing them during bath time may simply irritate baby's tender skin. The best tact is patience.
Baby Acne is Common
Baby acne is unrelated to milia, even though it seems to look the same. The big difference is that there are actual whiteheads, most often on the baby's cheeks and chin, and they're surrounded by red skin. If the baby is hot, or his skin is irritated, the acne is more pronounced.
It isn't clear what causes baby acne and researchers are yet to agree on a single point. Some think it may be due to the hormones baby received from mom at the end of pregnancy, or medications taken during pregnancy or nursing are also implicated. Whatever the cause, baby acne usually clears up within a few weeks. If it lasts more than three months and you're concerned about it, check in with the doctor.
Don't Pick, Squeeze or Scrub
The same words of caution apply to baby acne as to milia. No creams or lotions because they just make the situation worse. Acne medications are definitely out - a baby's skin can't tolerate the strength of such treatments. Picking, squeezing and rubbing can cause scarring. Scrubbing isn't necessary because baby acne isn't caused by dirt. Actually, too much washing can be detrimental because it can irritate the baby's skin. A gentle wash with mild soap and warm water only once a day and gentle patting baby's face dry is enough.
Again, the key word here is patience. This too shall pass.