Epstein pearls are harmless cysts that may grow in your baby’s mouth, specifically in the gums. There might not be wrong with these pearls but they may cause pain and irritation that can affect your baby’s feeding.
Epstein pearls are small and benign cysts that grow in your newborn baby’s mouth during the earlier weeks and months of their development. This may probably happen to 65 to 80% of newborn babies.
Epstein pearls look tiny and have white bumps. These bumps usually appear along your baby’s gums or on the upper part of their mouth. This natural cysts are coined after the Czech pediatrician Alois Epstein, who first described them in 1881.
These benign formations of keratin protein are not dangerous to your baby. Usually, it does not require serious treatment and can go away after a course of a few weeks.
But how should we take these bumps in your baby’s mouth? What is the additional info about it and how can these bumps affect our babies? Do Epstein pearls painful?
What are the characteristics of Epstein pearls?
These pearls contain a protein called Keratin, which is found in skin and other mucous membranes. These bumps may resemble smaller pimples in your baby’s mouth which are not that harmful.
These cysts are:
- generally known to appear on their own or in their clusters of 2 to 6
- less common in the firstborn babies of mothers
- more commonly happen in higher birthweight babies
- more common in other race babies such as White, Black, and Japanese babies
- it could be in a range of sizes: from less than a millimeter to several millimeters in diameter
These characteristics might be the general formations. However, we also need to look out for other symptoms and indicators of other health conditions.
Location of Epstein Pearls: How to locate it?
Usually, these Epstein cysts grow in your baby’s mouth. This is where we can locate the pearls forming, especially in the gums or the upper roof of the mouth.
Knowing that this bump is not that fatal nor serious, it is better to know that what you are dealing with is an Epstein pearl. Because sometimes, bumps in your baby’s mouth might be an indication of another health condition.
In newborn babies, bumps in their mouth with the same characteristics as the pearls could be oral thrush. It is hard to distinguish Epstein pearls from other health conditions on your own.
In other very rare cases, these white little bumps on the gums may even turn out to be something not impossible. But it is surprising like natal teeth. These teeth can appear in the first weeks of your baby, even during the day of birth!
What all parents need to know about Hand foot and mouth disease
Must-know information about oral thrush in babies
Baby born with teeth: causes, risks, treatment, and removal
Do these cysts or Epstein pearls cause pain to your baby?
Epstein pearls are harmless bumps. But if your baby is showing signs of pain, itchy, or irritability, it is better to seek a doctor. These pearls are too common for babies, so a doctor can even point out if it is Epstein just by looking at them.
Doctors depend on your baby’s presented signs and symptoms. They might check your baby’s mouth to check for signs of natal teeth. This is pretty rare for newborns, but these teeth are commonly mistaken for Epstein pearls.
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These pearls can also be ruled out by doctors as a baby’s oral thrush. This is a type of yeast ailment that can cause small or tiny white bumps or white coating in your baby’s mouth.
Epstein pearls are expected to disappear after a week or two after birth. However, it can persist for several months. You may still happen to notice the appearance of these bumps after several weeks and not get any smaller. This could be another form of a health condition you should seek help about.
What causes it and how to treat it
Causes of epstein pearls
In engaging how to treat your baby’s Epstein pearls, we must also inquire about the causes of it.
These bumps can occur in up to 60 to 85 percent of all newborn babies. Experts believe they happen while the baby’s mouth is in the process of development inside the womb.
Epstein pearls are not preventable, they could always be there in an infant or baby. Commonly, they are not caused by something the mothers did or did not do during pregnancy.
When a baby’s mouth reaches the final phase of development during pregnancy, the sides of the jaw and palate (roof of the mouth) begin to bind together.
When that binding happens, some layers of the skin can get stuck. This will cause Epstein to appear, it is a natural cause you may not need to worry about.
These pearls do not occur in older babies or adults because it is a result of fetal development.
Treatment for epstein pearls
Epstein pearls mostly do not require treatments. These bumps, in most cases, slowly dissolve in your baby’s mouth in a matter of weeks.
Sometimes, the friction while your baby is breastfeeding, feeding in a bottle, the use of a teether, or sucking on a pacifier can mash down the cysts and help them dissolve quickly.
Remember, do not squeeze Epstein pearls. Do not try to pop the bumps or cysts. This will not help in reducing the size of the pearl nor make it any good. It is also possible to introduce your baby into different harmful bacteria and infection.
When to see a doctor when you baby has epstein pearls
Mommies can go seek help from doctors or pediatrician when they have problem with these bumps. These bumps can also be a cause of another serious health condition of your baby.
You may notice that your baby has Epstein pearl but are showing indicators of irritability or pain when or when not feeding. This is something that should be attended quickly.
The following conditions and signs may resemble the appearance and indications of Epstein pearls. It is difficult to distinguish the following with the harmless cysts. To be safe, you would better know if you consulted a doctor.
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In other cases, white spots could be a show off of a baby’s fungal infection in the mouth known as thrush. Thrush in babies occurs when Candida yeasts get inside of your baby’s mouth and infect the tissues inside.
This can result in white patches and bumps in the mouth, including the inside cheek and tongue. It may also affect the easiness of feeding with the feeling of discomfort. However, this is not even a fatal condition.
Usually, this is treated with antifungal medicines because the infection may spread, in the mothers’ areola, when the baby feeds. This will also cause cracking of nipples and painful breasts.
This rare moment may only happen in 1 in every 800 to 6000 babies. The growth of natal teeth is often mistaken for Epstein pearl or other conditions.
There is also a need to consult with a pediatrician if your baby has natal teeth. These teeth can sometimes be loose that can affect your baby’s feeding.
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Hand, foot, and mouth disease
A baby with a hand, foot, and mouth disease can also be concluded to have a viral infection. This viral infection is common in children under 5 years of age.
This disease may be presented with the appearance of sores in the mouth that blister. These blisters may start as small red spots on the back of the mouth. The sores can be painful to your baby, which may cause fussiness and inability to feed.
While Epstein pearls are benign, please look out for other symptoms that may occur when mommies happen to notice the appearance of a white bump or cyst. Always consult your doctor to make sure that it is only pearl you are dealing with.
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