White bumps on a toddler's nose are likely a skin condition known as milia. Most commonly seen on infants, these white bumps appear on about 40 percent of newborns, according to the medical advisory board-reviewed parenting website BabyCenter. However, milia do affect children, adolescents and adults of all ages. The white bumps are technically small cysts, but they are harmless.
The white bumps on your toddler's nose generally have a pearly texture and appearance if they are milia. Milia on the nose are often accompanied by similar small white bumps on the cheeks and chin, but they may also appear on the upper torso, limbs and on the roof of the mouth and gums, notes MayoClinic.com. Such milia in the mouth are referred to as Epstein pearls. Milia may also appear around the eyelids and genitals, adds the New Zealand Dermatological Society. Your toddler may exhibit signs of acne, particularly small red bumps on the face and forehead, in conjunction with the small white bumps as well.
The cysts that appear as white bumps on your toddler's nose form when dead skin cells are trapped near the skin's surface. There may be a genetic predisposition toward developing milia, and in rare instances the condition is associated with blistering skin disorders such as porphyria cutanea tarda, according to dermatologist Audrey Kunin, M.D., on her DermaDoctor website. Later in life, these small white bumps are typically related to over-use of heavy cosmetics or skin care products and a history of excessive sun exposure, adds Dr. Kunin.
While they may look unsightly, milia don't pose any health threat. The small white bumps on your toddler's nose will go away on their own, usually within a few weeks; they can, however, remain for several months. Don't attempt to squeeze, pop, scrub or otherwise remove small white bumps on a toddler's nose, as this can lead to injury and scarring. Refrain from using ointments, creams or other topical treatments as well, advises BabyCenter.
Your pediatrician can diagnose milia with an examination. If there is any cause for concern based on the appearance of the small white bumps on your toddler's nose, additional tests may be performed to differentiate them from other types of cysts or skin conditions, notes the New Zealand Dermatological Society. The occurrence of milia on a baby or toddler does not indicate a predisposition toward developing acne, assures BabyCenter.
There is no way to prevent milia on children, states MedlinePlus. Simply wash your toddler's face once or twice a day with warm water and a mild soap to ensure proper cleanliness. Always gently pat, rather than rub, a toddler's skin dry.