Milk spots, or milia, are those little white spots that pop up around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead, of nearly half of all babies. But what are they? And will they disappear?
“A milk spot is a small, sealed, seed-like sac placed well under the skin,” says GP Dr Suni Perera. The spots may be sparse, or populate most of your little one’s face. They can also be found on the back or chest.
Contrary to the name, milk spots have no connection to milk (or breastfeeding); they are in fact filled with keratin, a protein found in hair and nails.
“It is not really known why newborns get milk spots. Some dermatologists link it to the fact that young babies have undeveloped skin glands which means dead skin gets trapped in little pockets, causing a small cyst,” explains Dr Perera.
As much as you may be tempted to rid your bubs of the pimple-like rash—don’t. Picking at the spots can cause scarring, and will also break the natural protective barrier of the skin. The body will naturally take care of things, with milk spots tending to last just a few short weeks.
If you’re concerned that your child’s milk spots appear infected (which is very rare), do contact your GP. An inflamed eruption of spots might also be something other than milia:
A cow’s milk allergy
Look for a red, itchy rash around the mouth, or red spots on the facial area.
Impetigo (contagious infection)
Look out for blister-like spots, which may burst and leave a yellow crust.
Heat rash or prickly heat
A raised red rash following intense activity or hot weather.
Molluscum contagiosum (contagious infection)
Look out for raised, warty, sometimes itchy spots.