Milia: What are They and How to Treat Them


Milia are tiny white or yellowish cysts that often appear in small clusters, typically on the face around the eyelids and cheeks. These harmless bumps can occur in individuals of all ages, from newborns to older adults, showing those tell-tale little white spots. In this blog, we will delve into what milia are, their causes, and the various treatment methods.

What is Milia?

Milia looks like small white or yellowish spots on the skin’s surface, particularly around the cheeks, nose, and eyes. They are tiny keratin-filled cysts under the skin, which appear as the result of dead skin cells being trapped underneath the skin’s surface. 

It’s interesting to note that milia are not pimples. Unlike pimples, which are filled with sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, milia are packed with a protein called keratin. Hence, these cysts are solid and can’t be popped.

Causes of Milia

Milia can occur due to various reasons. In neonates or newborns, these bumps are known as “neonatal milia” or “milk spots” and are quite common, affecting up to 50% of all newborns. These generally disappear within a few weeks of their birth without requiring any treatment.

In adults, milia can be primary or secondary. Primary milia can appear due to unknown reasons or as a result of an underlying skin condition, while secondary milia arise following skin trauma like burns, blistering, or certain dermatological procedures. Regular use of certain topical medications, including steroid creams, might also lead to milia.

Treating Milia: From Home Remedies to Medical Treatments

Milia do not generally require treatment and often disappear on their own within a few weeks or months. However, if they persist or cause cosmetic concerns, various treatment options exist that range from home remedies to specialized medical procedures.

Home Remedies

Regular gentle cleansing and exfoliation can help prevent keratin buildup and, subsequently, formation. Aid exfoliation, helping shed those extra dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. A mild soap can be an excellent choice for daily cleaning, avoiding skin irritation.

However, it’s essential not to over-exfoliate, as doing so daily could irritate the skin. Regular use of sunscreen, especially high-protection sunscreens like SPF 50, can also help in preventing, especially if you’re using exfoliating products.

Medical Treatments

In cases where home remedies do not help, or you have a large number of milia, dermatological treatments can come in handy. Dermatologists can perform a procedure called manual extraction or ‘de-roofing,’ where a small surgical blade (lancet) pierces the skin’s surface, and the keratin plug is gently pushed out.

For stubborn or recurring der tologists may prescribe topical retinoids, which are creams or gels derived from Vitamin A. These retinoids help in exfoliating the skin more effectively than over-the-counter products and even help in loosening the keratin plug, plug-in its expulsion from the skin.

Other less common medical procedures include curettage (a surgical procedure involving scraping off the skin), cryotherapy (using cold temperatures from liquid nitrogen to ‘freeze’ off the skin), and laser ablation (resurfacing the skin using small lasers).

Preventing Milia

Preventing milia relies primarily on maintaining excellent skincare habits. Regular and correct exfoliation, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and evading. The use of thick creams or oil-based products can help keep them at bay.

Moreover, remember not to attempt to pop yourself. It’s not only ineffective but can also lead to possible skin infections and even permanent scarring.

While they are generally harmless and pose no threats to health, they can sometimes be a cosmetic concern. 


Milia, those tiny white or yellowish bumps, are a common skin condition not to be confused with pimples. These keratin-filled cysts are harmless and usually disappear on their own. However, if you’re bothered by their appearance, the most important thing is to seek professional advice, as treating. These bumps on your own can potentially damage the skin or lead to scarring. Together, with a careful skincare routine. If needed, professional intervention handling can be as smooth as the skin we all desire.

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