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What Causes Milia In Newborns?

Skin irregularities such as red patches or even bumps are quite common in newborn babies and most of the time, harmless. Most often, we may notice tiny white bumps on the nose, chin and upper cheeks, which appear roughly after 2-3 weeks of birth. They are called milia.

What Is Milia?

Milia is a skin condition where tiny white or yellow raised bumps appear on the nose and chin of a newborn baby. They are usually found in groups.

The bumps may be less or more in number. Some babies also have milia bumps on their gums or the roof of their mouths. They do not affect the newborns in any case.

Milia is quite a normal condition, affecting almost 40 to 50 per cent of the newborns. They are completely harmless and painless. Though most of the known cases of milia are known to affect newborn babies, a fair share of adults too are known to suffer from milia.

What Causes Milia In Newborns?

Milia is caused when keratin gets trapped under the surface of the skin. Keratin is the protein which is present in our hair and skin tissues. It is also caused when dead skin cells get trapped in the layers of the skin instead of shedding.

The oil glands in infants are still developing. This may prevent the dead skin from shedding completely. Therefore, it gets trapped in the skin surface and causes a tiny white bump called milium. A cluster of these bumps is called milia.

What Are The Symptoms Of Milia?

Milia typically appear on the nose and chin. They may be white or yellow. Though they do not cause itching, they may appear red and inflamed when rubbed on rough sheets.

Some cases of milia are found on the upper cheeks and even eyelids. Upper arms and legs are other common places for milia in newborns. They are completely different from baby acne, which can be characterised by red and inflamed bumps filled with pus.

Milia are often noticed occurring in the superficial layer of the skin, which also helps differentiate itself from baby acne.

Some newborns are born with milia, whereas others develop the condition after 2-3 weeks into birth.

Can Milia Go Away On Its Own?

Milia generally goes away on its own. It may also be advised against using any cream or ointment on the bumps and it may worsen the condition.

As the condition is caused due to dead skin cells being trapped under the surface of the skin, the skin usually shreds, which eventually resolves the bumps. Any creams or lotions applied to the affected area will in no way help in catalyzing the process.

Here are a few things to avoid doing if your newborn baby has developed milia:

1) It is recommended not to squeeze the bumps as it may result in scarring.

2) Milia bumps should not be wiped with rough fabric or else it may irritate and inflame the bumps.

3) Milia bumps are not itchy or contagious; therefore, they should not be treated as a disease.

4) Parents often associate milia with another underlying skin condition. While this is not true in newborns, adult milia may often be caused due to a skin condition.

How Is Milia Treated?

There is no known treatment for milia in newborns as they go away on their own. Milia in newborn babies often disappear within a few weeks. Some newborns may develop milia after their birth, which may take about a couple of months to resolve. Milia is a quite common and harmless skin condition which will resolve on its own. There is nothing that you can do to prevent it.

However, if you are worried about your newborn's skin condition, here are a few pointers to help you understand whether you may need medical invention or not-

1) If the bumps seem to grow rapidly, it may be a cause of concern in your newborn.

2) Milia bumps are normally white or yellow. Red and inflamed bumps may indicate an onset of a different skin condition.

3) If your baby's milia is painful to touch, it may be better if you consult a dermatologist.

4) The milia bumps should disappear within a few months or even a couple of months. If they persist, you may have to get help.

Skin conditions in newborns are quite common and nothing to worry about as a majority of infantile skin conditions disappear over time. As long as it is not causing you or your baby any harm, it is better to leave them alone to resolve on their own.

Read more about: newborn skin
Story first published: Monday, October 1, 2018, 19:00 [IST]
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