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Milia in Newborn Babies: Should Parents Be Concerned?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Jason Inocencio · Updated Jan 30, 2023

Milia in Newborn Babies: Should Parents Be Concerned?

A baby’s birth is a time of celebration for the child’s proud parents. As the newborn comes into the world, the joy of its arrival can be quite the spectacle. After the initial euphoria subsides, it can be disconcerting for parents to find imperfections on their baby’s perfect skin. Seeing milia in newborn babies can be confusing or, at times, alarming for parents. But the condition is benign and generally no reason for concern. That said, is there anything parents can do about these unsightly white spots?

What Are Milia?

Milia is the term for the tiny white bumps that appear across a baby’s nose, skin, or cheeks. Milia can occur at any age; adults get milia too. But the condition is quite common in newborns, occurring regardless of a baby’s race or culture.

Rashes are very common in newborn babies. Most rashes are harmless and are usually a cause of unnecessary concern from parents. That is also the case with milia. There is nothing parents can do to prevent milia. And once it appears, there is nothing parents can do to treat it either.

Milia is the entrapped keratin below the outer layer of the skin, forming a small cyst. These same milia usually disappear or fade away after a few weeks or months.

Causes of Milia in Newborn Babies

Milia occurs in up to 50% of newborns, though premature babies are less likely to develop milia. The 1mm to 2mm pearly white or yellow papules are caused by the retention of keratin within the dermis.

While mostly occurring on a baby’s face, milia may also occur on the upper trunk, limbs, penis, or mucus membranes.

The tiny papules on the facial skin of newborns are visible with any normal physical examination. And doctors can easily diagnose the condition on clinical findings alone.

Milia normally disappears within the first few weeks of a newborn’s life, but the condition sometimes lasts and spreads throughout the whole body.

 Some babies develop baby acne, seen as small red bumps and pustules on the cheeks, chin, and forehead. This can happen with or without milia.

Treating Milia in Newborn Babies

Milia disappears on its own, usually within the first month of life. Some cases may persist into the second or third month. While sometimes a cause of concern for parents, milia in newborn babies is benign. Parents need reassurance of that fact. No systemic complications have been documented regarding milia. Aside from being benign, these lesions are also asymptomatic.

Milia can be treated with simple surgical intervention although this is generally not done. Doctors can surgically treat milia adults by creating a tiny incision using a scalpel blade and a little pressure applied with a comedone extractor or curette.

Some home remedies to make a baby’s skin look its best can help. Wash your baby’s face daily with warm water and mild/hypoallergenic baby soap or cleanser. To gently dry their face, simply pat their skin dry. Pinching and scrubbing the bumps should be avoided. That may cause more irritation or infection. Avoid using lotions or oils on your baby’s face.

Key Takeaways

The phenomenon known as milia happens in up to 50% of newborn babies worldwide. The tiny white bumps that appear on a baby’s cheeks, forehead, nose, or cheeks can occur at any age, but are more common in newborns. Milia occurs because of keratin retention in the baby’s skin.

Because milia is benign (having no harmful effects), it is usually not treated. The skin condition usually resolves within a month after a baby is born.

It is usually the parents who worry about milia in newborn babies, but the condition requires no treatment. If parents wish, they can gently wash their baby’s face with mild baby soap and gently pat the skin dry after. Any pinching or scrubbing can lead to further skin irritation or infection. Despite the best intentions of worried parents, it is best to leave milia to dissipate on their own.

Click here for more on baby’s first year.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Jason Inocencio · Updated Jan 30, 2023

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