Milk spots, otherwise known as malia are fairly in common in babies but what exactly are they?
When you are pregnant you have to deal with all sorts of changes in your skin from rashes and spots. You might even be one of the lucky ones who finds themselves with glowing pregnancy skin (we envy you!).
However, the skin concerns don't stop after you give birth. Once you have a newborn, every little lump, rash or mark on their delicate skin is likely to set you off into a world of panic.
Fear not! We are here to relieve that panic by explaining everything there is to know about baby milk spots.
What are milk spots?
Milk spots are very small white spots or lumps that occur on the face, mainly around the eyes, nose, cheeks and forehead (so basically everywhere on their poor little face!). They are actually tiny little sacs filled with keratin which is a protein that is typically found in skin tissue, hair and nail cells. Milk spots can occur in both adults and children but they have different causes and they are particularly common in newborns with around 40% of babies developing them.
Why do milk spots occur?
Contrary to what the name suggests and popular belief, milk spots have nothing to do with milk, bottle feeding or breastfeeding. The cause of milk spots in newborns is unclear but babies are usually born with them. Some dermatologists believe they occur due to the hormones released by the mother during pregnancy or down to the baby's skin glands not being fully developed. In adults, milk spots are usually down to dead skin build up, damage to the skin via the sun, the use of steroid creams or burns.
Should I be worried about milk spots?
Milk spots are harmless. It is unlikely that the milk spots cause your little one to lose any sleep (no more than normal anyway!) because they are not usually painful or itchy. If you find they are causing them discomfort, they may be something else so you can always get your GP or health visitor to check.
Are there any treatments for milk spots?
Although milk spots might look like little whiteheads, make sure you are not tempted to squeeze or pop them. The keratin cannot be released through the pore so this will only break their delicate skin, leaving it sore and prone to infection. Keep their skin clean with water and any mild baby washes. The milk spots will clear up on their own in a few weeks.
What is the difference between milk spots and baby acne?
Milk spots are often inaccurately referred to as baby acne. However, there is a subtle difference between the two. Baby acne causes more angry looking red spots that are likely to be raised and filled with pus. Unlike milk spots, babies are not born with acne and often develop it about a month after birth. Luckily, like milk spots, acne tends to clear up on its own after a few weeks or months. Avoid squeezing them, over washing and make sure to use mild baby products. If the acne is severe, contact a dermatologist.
Check out this gallery on common baby skin complaints:
Nappy rash is perhaps the most common skin concern with little ones. It happens when their skin is irritated by rubbing from nappies, wee, poo or cleaning products/wipes. Their skin will be red, sore and blotchy.
Changing nappies as soon as they are dirty, applying a barrier cream or changing nappy brain if a particular type sets it off are all ways to prevent nappy rash. It will usually clear up after a few days.
Read our guide to the three different types of nappy rash and how to treat them
Thrush is quite obvious in children as it results in a white coating on your baby's tongue or white spots that cannot be rubbed off. Babies are often affected by oral thrush and although it is harmless, you and your little need to use treatment to clear it up as it will be transferred by breastfeeding.
If left untreated, breastfeeding can become painful for mums.
Check out our guide to thrush in babies and how to treat it.
Chickenpox is commong and mainly affects children but it is possible to catch it at any age. After about a week it tends to get better without needing to see a doctor.
Chickenpox are red spots that can appear all over the body and the spots can fill with fluid or blister and burst. There are other symptoms such as a high temperature, aches, feeling unwell and loss of appetite. The spots are very itchy and can really irritate children but it is worse in adults which is why people often throw chickenpox parties to prevent their children getting it in later life.
Here's everything you need to know about chicken pox in small children
Atopic eczema is common in children and causes the skin to become itchy, inflamed, red and cracked. It often occurs in areas where the skin folds such as the neck, elbows, behind the knees and around the eyes and ears. Eczema is a long-term condition but often clears up in children at around 11. There are certain creams
that can be prescribed by your doctor to help soothe the symptoms.
Check out our complete guide to eczema in babies and toddlers
Baby skin is more prone to burning than adults’, so keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible.
‘Sun protection is very important,’ says Anna. ‘Studies have shown that if you are exposed to too much sun when you’re a baby, you’re at higher risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers as an adult.’
If your baby develops tiny red spots or blotches on her face or body, it’s probably heat rash
, which will disappear as soon as she cools down.
Now read: 5 things you should know about baby sun care this summer
11) Viral rashes
There is no hard and fast rule about viral rashes, so it’s best to see a doctor if you’re worried.
‘After a virus, a child will sometimes develop a harmless red rash,’ says Leon. ‘This will get better without treatment, but don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you’re concerned.’
If a rash doesn’t blanch when pressed with a glass, it could be meningitis – so you’ll need to call 999.
Occasionally a rash can be a sign of illness such as slapped cheek syndrome.
Both conditions are minor and usually clear up on their own, but you’ll need a doctor to make the diagnosis.
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