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Ask Dermatologist Blogger Dr Bailey

Baby Milia from Baby Acne

Baby milia from baby acne is relatively common and can worry new parents. A baby's skin is so perfect and the little milia are so noticeable to us as we hold and love our new little ones. I received a question about baby milia from a reader that I wanted to share.

Good Afternoon Dr. Bailey, I have a question concerning my 5-month-old son. Around 3 weeks of life he developed normal baby acne that has subsequently resolved itself.  However, he has a patch of milia on his chin that do not seem to be going away. I am not sure if we should just wait it out longer or is there some sort of treatment we can use to help it go away? Thank you, Stephanie D

Hello Stephanie,

Milia are little pockets of dead skin cells that have gotten trapped under the skin. The skin actually folds over to encase the dead skin cells in a little sphere within the top layer called the epidermis. 

I tell my patients to think of milia like a pocket in your jeans, there is a lining made of your normal skin and it's filled with the same dead skin cells that form and drop off of your skin every day.  Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey

When milia are new, the dead skin cell collection is soft.  The longer the milial pocket of dead cells stays trapped in the skin the harder the milia becomes.

What causes milia to form?

Milia can form in skin spontaneously, but they are even more likely to form when the skin heals after a rash. The skin of babies and children can form milia after any sort of a rash, including baby acne. 

The skin of these tender and sweet little people is much finer than our tough adult skin.  This means that milia in babies and children are not covered by the same thick, tough outer skin layer that they are in adults.  It also means that they may well work themselves out just by the friction and rubbing of the skin that happens during the natural course of daily activities. 

Skin cleansing to help baby milia go away.

best skin cleansing for baby milia from baby acne

To help assist these little milia in working their way out sooner rather than later, I often recommend doing the routine daily skin cleansing step with a wash cloth. By gently massaging and rubbing the skin with the wash cloth and a very mild soap such as VaniCream Cleansing Bar, you create a gentle exfoliation.  The milia are so close to the surface they may gradually open and come out. 

Use a good moisturizer to help baby milia to go away and prevent skin dryness.

best natural fragrance free lotion for babies

I also recommend applying a simple moisturizing cream after washing so that the skin stays soft and well hydrated, which will also aid in the natural opening and resolution of the little milia. It is important to avoid fragrance and artificial fragrance ingredients that may contain phthalates on baby's skin.

Baby's skin is thin and more absorbent than tougher adult skin. (Phthalates are commonly used to enhance fragrance and are known hormone disruptors.) I like a simple and natural fragrance-free moisturizer for babies and children such as my Natural Face and Body Lotion.  

I strongly recommend you avoid fragrance containing products for baby skin care. Dermatologist Dr. Bailey

Really stubborn milia that refuse to come out on their own can be opened and expressed by a dermatologist, but it hurts and never makes us popular with children or babies.  Fortunately, most of the time simply adding the hydrating and gentle exfoliation that I mentioned above does the trick.

Warm Regards,

Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist

Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.