Pustular Melanosis: A-to-Z Guide from Diagnosis to Treatment to Prevention

Portrait of a young baby the perfect age for Pustular Melanosis.

Introduction to pustular melanosis:

With a name like pustular melanosis this interesting quirk of baby skin sounds nasty. Instead it is clean, cute, and as temporary as those oh-so-short first days with your baby.

What is it?

A birthmark that makes a grand entrance! Transient neonatal pustular melanosis is a common, benign skin condition seen in newborn babies.

Who gets it?

Any newborn can get it. The blisters are usually already present at birth. Interestingly, it is more common in children with darker skin pigmentation.

What are the symptoms?

Small blisters peel open, revealing a small “freckle” inside. When the blister roof is gone, a small white collar of skin may surround this dark spot for a while. Some babies have only the spots (the blister event happened before birth).

These flat, dark spots are most common under the chin, at the back of the neck, on the forehead, the lower back, or the shins – but they can occur in other locations as well.

Is it contagious?

No

How long does it last?

The blisters peel open within the first 48 hours of life. The “freckles” fade within 3 weeks to 3 months.

How is it diagnosed?

Pustular melanosis is suspected by the location, timing, character, and appearance. When blisters are seen in newborns, care should be taken to be sure they are not blisters from an infection, such as herpes or Staph.

How is it treated?

No treatment is necessary.

How can it be prevented?

No prevention is necessary.

Related concepts:

Transient neonatal pustular melanosis, Newborn pustular melanosis.

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.