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My newborn has tiny white bumps on her nose and cheeks. What are they?
They're called milia. They're harmless and they're very common – about 40 to 50 percent of newborn babies get them, most often on the upper cheeks, nose, or chin. Some babies have just a few, and others have many of them. Milia typically show up a day or two after birth, but in babies who are born prematurely they may not show up for days or weeks.
© Biophoto Associates / Science Source
It can be upsetting to see your beautiful infant's skin covered in these little bumps, but they aren't painful or contagious. And they'll go away without any treatment in two or three weeks.
You may spot similar bumps on your baby's gums or on the roof of her mouth. These are called Epstein's pearls, and they're also harmless.
What causes milia?
Milia occur when dead skin becomes trapped in tiny pockets near the surface of your baby's skin. When the surface of the bump wears away, the dead skin is sloughed off and the bump disappears.
What can I do to help clear them up?
You don't need to do anything at all. The bumps will go away on their own, without treatment, in a few weeks, although it's possible for them to last a month or two.
Doctors recommend that you not put any creams or ointments on the milia. And don't try to squeeze these pimple-like bumps to make them go away faster – that could cause scarring. Vigorous washing and scrubbing isn't a good idea either: It won't help and it could irritate your baby's sensitive skin.
Try to be patient. Your child will soon have her baby-smooth complexion back. If the milia don't go away in a few months, talk with your baby's doctor.
Does having milia mean my baby will grow up to have acne?
No, your baby isn't destined to have acne. Genetics is thought to be a predictor of who gets acne. If you or your partner had acne as a teen or adult, your child is more likely to get it when she hits her teenage years.