Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis: Understanding a Common Newborn Skin Condition


Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis, which is commonly abbreviated as TNPM, is a benign and self-limited skin condition affecting newborn infants. The presence of small bumps, pigmented spots, or patches on the skin characterises it. While it might sound alarming, TNPM is entirely harmless and typically resolves independently without any treatment.¹ In this article, we will discuss its causes and risk factors, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management, and prognosis.

Overview of transient neonatal pustular melanosis

Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis is an idiopathic pustular eruption (small bumps, pigmented spots, or patches on the skin) that heals with brown-pigmented macules. TNPM is more commonly found in neonates with black heritage, which might also be the potential reason for 15% of them having lentigines neonatorum.² These are benign lesions that occur on the sun-exposed areas of the body.³ The lesions are almost invariably present at birth with 1–3 mm, flaccid, superficial, fragile pustules with no surrounding erythema, which is when there is a redness in the skin caused by injury or another inflammation-causing condition.⁴ They are usually distributed over the chin, neck, forehead, back, and buttocks; even palms and soles may be affected. After some time, the pustules rupture and form a brown crust and, finally, a small collarette of scales. These pigmented macules can sometimes be already present at birth. The pigmentation may persist for about 3 months, but otherwise, the affected neonates will be entirely normal.

Cause and risk factors

At the moment, the exact cause for the development of Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis remains unclear. Current information demonstrates that both boys and girls are affected equally. However, it has been noted that full-term infants are more likely to develop the condition than those born early.

Signs and symptoms

Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis is characterised by the presence of pustules. Nevertheless, these are further signs and symptoms that might be present:

  • Black, brown, red or purple bumps on dark skin. Yellow, white or grey bumps on lighter-coloured skin.
  • No redness around the base of the bump.
  • Very small bumps (less than 1/10 of an inch or 3 millimetres) that may resemble a blister, baby acne or skin rash.
  • A single bump or many bumps that cluster together.
  • Blisters that break open easily, scab over and heal within 48 hours.
  • Discoloured or darker skin at the site of the healed blister.
  • White rim or collar (called collarette of scale) around the dark, flat skin spots.
  • Gradual fading of the discoloured skin spots in three to four weeks.

However, it is important to note that other conditions provoke symptoms similar to those of TNPN. These are the following:

  • Acropustulosis of infancy (an itchy skin rash on the hands or feet).
  • Baby acne.
  • Bacterial, viral or yeast infections.
  • Cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis in infants).
  • Erythema toxicum neonatorum or toxic erythema of the newborn (a harmless skin rash that appears after childbirth).
  • Milia (harmless white skin cysts).
  • Miliaria (a rash caused by heat illness).
  • Staph infection.


The clinical diagnosis of transient neonatal pustular melanosis does not necessitate any further investigations, it is diagnosed based on a physical examination.

However, there are some cases where a skin biopsy is performed, it typically reveals a neutrophilic presence in either the epidermis or dermis. This is often accompanied by the presence of subcorneal pustules and occasional eosinophils (type of white blood cell). Notably, the pustules contain neutrophils (a type of white blood cell), but no microorganisms are typically identified.


The bumps associated with Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis will naturally resolve on their own without the need for treatment. Given that the blisters can rupture easily, it's advisable to exercise caution during bath time and diaper changes. For guidance on suitable bathing and moisturizing products, it's best to consult the child's healthcare provider.


Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis does not leave any lasting effects. The blisters do not result in scarring or itching, and the pigmentation changes typically fade within a few weeks. Over time, it will become nearly impossible to discern that the child has ever experienced this skin condition.¹⁰


In conclusion, Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis is a common, yet benign, skin condition that affects newborn infants. The presence of small pustules and pigmented spots on the skin characterizes this self-limited condition. While it might raise concerns for parents, it's important to understand that TNPM typically resolves on its own without the need for medical treatment.

Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis is more commonly found in newborns with darker skin, particularly those of black heritage. The characteristic pustules, which lack redness at their base, may appear on various parts of the body, including the chin, neck, forehead, back, and buttocks. The pigmentation changes that accompany TNPM may persist for about three months but are otherwise harmless.

While the exact cause of Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis remains unclear, it is essential to note that this condition has no long-term effects. The pustules do not scar or itch, and the pigmentation changes gradually fade within a few weeks. It's reassuring to know that over time, it becomes nearly impossible to tell that a child has ever experienced this skin condition.

As parents and caregivers, it's important to stay informed about Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis to distinguish it from more concerning skin conditions, as it can save unnecessary anxiety and medical interventions. In most cases, TNPM requires no treatment, and the best approach is to provide gentle care, especially during bathing and diaper changes.

In summary, Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis is a temporary and harmless condition that is part of the natural adjustment process of a newborn's skin. With proper understanding and care, parents can ensure their child's comfort and well-being while confidently navigating this common newborn skin condition.


  1. Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis (TNPM) Symptoms & Treatment [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023 Oct 27]. Available from:
  2. Fox JN, Walton RG, Gottlieb B, Castellano A. Pigmented skin lesions in black newborn infants. Cutis [Internet]. 1979 Oct 1 [cited 2023 Oct 27];24(4):399–402. Available from:
  3. Lentigines - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) [Internet]. Available from:
  4. Erythema - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics [Internet]. Available from:
  5. Ghosh S. Neonatal Pustular Dermatosis: An Overview. Indian Journal of Dermatology [Internet]. 2015;60(2):211. Available from:
  6. Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis (TNPM) Symptoms & Treatment [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023 Oct 27]. Available from:
  7. Transient neonatal pustular melanosis | DermNet NZ [Internet]. Available from:
  8. Transient Neonatal Pustular Melanosis (TNPM) Symptoms & Treatment [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023 Oct 27]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Érica Ramos Lopes Sousa

Medical Undergraduate - MBBS / BSc , Imperial College London

Érica, a first-year medical student at Imperial College London, is already displaying a keen interest in the fields of neurosurgery and genetics. Her foundation in academic writing, acquired during her International Baccalaureate studies, serves as a strong platform for her goal of crafting informative health-related articles for the general public. As she progresses through her medical education, she harbours ambitions of further enhancing her expertise and insights, with the ultimate aim of contributing to significant advancements in the field of medicine. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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