When Elfin was born she was perfect. Within three short weeks her poor little face was covered in awful pustules and her skin was as terrible as a teenage boy’s. I never questioned whether it was a milk rash, or CMPA rash (or another allergy) or baby acne, assuming the latter out of ignorance until – by complete fluke – a consultant diagnosed her: she had a classic CMPA rash, also known as a milk rash.
Either way, it broke my heart and made me want to weep.
I never vocalised the extent to which it upset me that my beautiful baby’s face was blemished with hideous acne, because I was her mother and if I wasn’t going to advocate for her then who would? But it did bother me a great deal; partly for fear that she was suffering discomfort or even pain, and – admittedly shallow – I couldn’t bear the thought that people may consider my adorable tiny baby’s skin unsightly.
If you’re reading now then chances are your baby is displaying similar skin problems. So let me start off by saying that baby acne certainly does exist – my first daughter had it – but it’s not on the same scale as the angry spotty rash exhibited in CMPA babies. So how can you be sure which it is? I’ve put together a checklist of all the different symptoms to be alert for and help you determine the cause.
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Baby Acne vs Milk Rash / CMPA Rash – Does My Infant Have Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy?
CMPA and other allergies produce four sets of symptoms, and depending on the type and severity, your baby may present with a combination or all of the symptoms.
- Contact Dermatitis
- Rashes including hives
- Swelling of the eyes and/or lips, or possibly the whole face
- Excessive pain
- Reflux / silent reflux
- Stomach pain
- Distended stomach
- Mucousy or bloody stools
- Persistent runny nose and/or eyes
- Poor sleep
- Cannot be soothed when in pain
- Slow weight gain in some cases
In rare and extremely severe cases anaphylaxis may occur which can be life threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency.
Confirmed Milk Rash / Allergy / CMPA Rash Diagnosis – What Next?
If you suspect your baby is suffering from CMPA or another allergy, it’s important to identify the allergen/s and remove them from your baby’s milk. If you’re breastfeeding, the very best thing you can do for your baby is to continue breastfeeding, which will mean big changes to your diet. It’s daunting but it’s more than possible. I recommend following Dilan and Me for advice and guidance.
Regardless of whether your baby is breast or formula fed, I highly recommend visiting your GP for support – though sadly many simply do not have up to date training. It’s likely to be that you may struggle to find the help you need and online resources will become invaluable. Dilan and Me also runs a fantastic support group on Facebook which has been a bit of a lifeline to me.
They even share a list of treats which is updated on an ongoing basis!
This essentially means that despite cutting allergen/s such as dairy and soya from your diet, you won’t have to miss out on your favourite foods – you simply need to educate yourself on where to buy the best chocolate and ice cream! This list will help you with that.
Confirmed CMPA – Where Do I Go From Here?
Once the milk rash / CMPA rash (or other symptoms) are confirmed as being due to an allergy, you have a long road ahead of you whichever route you choose. Often, babies outgrow their allergies, but the only way to be certain is through trialling the allergens at various intervals – and it’s recommended to do this with the support of a dietitian. It’s absolutely worth persisting for a referral to a consultant for diagnosis and a dietitian for assistance with managing your / your baby’s diet.
In the meantime, there is a lot of help available on the internet, but naturally this should not take the place of a qualified doctor’s advice.
I hope you’ve found this introduction to allergies in babies helpful with regards to baby acne vs milk allergy, and determining whether your infant is displaying a milk rash / CMPA rash. If so, please consider sharing!
For more breastfeeding posts, head over to Breastfeeding – Help, Advice, Support.