Ultimate Guide To Milia: Types, Causes, Prevention, & Treatment
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Ultimate Guide To Milia: Types, Causes, Prevention, & Treatment


Adults and kids alike often face skin problems. Blackheads, whiteheads, acne, are some of the many skin problems that one suffers.

Newborns are also affected by skin infections and the most common one is known as Milia or Milium Cyst.

They are the white bumps that typically appear on the areas around nose and cheeks. When these cysts multiple and form a group, they are called milia.

They are also nicknamed “milk spots” and are commonly associated with children and newborns. 

What is milia or milium cyst?

Milia are small, bump-like cysts that are found under the skin. They are usually 1 to 2 millimeters in size.

They are formed when the skin flakes get trapped under the skin. They are usually filled with keratin, a form of protein that body naturally produces in areas like skin tissues, nail cells, and hair. It can occur in people of all ethnicities but are most common in newborns. 

Almost 40 to 50 percent of the newborn babies have milia on their skin for a month after they are born.

Even though it is a skin problem, they usually resolve on their own without much treatment.

However, there are certain steps and measures that one can take to prevent milia formation in the future. 

Milia are categorically divided into two forms: primary and secondary. The primary milia are a condition that occurs on the normal and healthy skin, whereas secondary milia occur on skin that is already prone to other conditions.

Keep reading below to know more about milia and how to prevent milium-cyst from forming again!

What Causes Milia?

As per a respected skincare specialist Aleksandra Encheva, there are several factors that can cause milia in adults.

They most commonly occur due to dead skin build-up that gets trapped in the pores. If the build-up doesn’t get expelled, it can become a small cyst and lead to the formation of milia.

A young girl, 16 years of age, wrote her personal story on milia and how it affected her daily routine.

She suffered from severe acne problems that lead to the formation of milia around her nose and under eyes.

Her sweat ducts have clogged that lead to a further increase in the skin trauma and infection. 

Others also report that excessive drinking, long-term steroid use, and smoking lead to the formation of milia onto their skin.

As Encheva said earlier, many factors contribute to the formation of milia and it usually depends on one’s personal choices and lifestyle. 

What are the Types of Milia?

There are other types of milia apart from the primary and secondary ones.

Here is a compiled list of different types of milia that varies over age and skin type.

Neonatal Milia

Almost 50 percent of all newborns suffer from neonatal milia. They usually disappear after a few weeks and commonly found in areas like nose, face, upper trunk, and inside of the mouth.

These bumps are often confused with neonatal acne, as they are also white bumps, but usually larger in size than milia. Milia may be present from birth.

However, neonatal acne doesn’t appear until 2 weeks after the birth.

Primary Milia

They usually occur in children and adults, and they are also easily treated. They often disappear without treatment in a few weeks, or some can also last for several months.

The primary milia often appear on body areas like eyelids, cheeks, genitals, and forehead.

Milia en Plaque

There are multiple milia clumps that group together in a flat, broad patch and rise above the surrounding skin. They are also referred to as plaque milia and have a clear, defined border.

They affect kids and adults, particularly middle-aged women. They are also associated with rare skin diseases like lichen planus, discoid lupus, and pseudoxanthoma elasticum.

Multiple Eruptive Milia

This is a rare type of milia that involves numerous bumps that appear in the same area and lasts for several months or weeks. They may feel itchy around some areas and often erupt on the face and upper arms.

Traumatic Milia

This is one of the secondary milia forms and this condition can injure the skin and can damage. It can lead to burn and blistering due to treatments like dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, or excessive exposure to sunlight.

What Are The Symptoms Of Milia?

The primary milia often occur in around half of all the newborns. This is not a medical condition in most cases, as they disappear after a period of 1-2 months.

They are usually 1-2 millimeter bumps that appear around eyes, cheeks, chin, and forehead. They can also appear on the trunk, penis, arms, and mucous membranes. 

They can also be seen in the mouths of infants and often known as baby acne. Even though milia are small bumps that are usually white or yellow, they can cause some discomfort.

They are not painful or itch, but rough sheets and clothing can irritate milia and make them appear red. 

Milias can be filled with the following fluids:

  • Cysts They are fluid-filled nodules that appear on the face.
  • Comedones – They are skin-colored papules that may be seen in acne.
  • Xanthelasma They are lesions that contain the buildup of fat within the body’s immune cells and are often associated with high blood pressure.
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    Syringomas They are sweat duct tumors.
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    Seborrheic Keratosis They are warty spots that are associated with aging.

Best Ways To Get Rid Of Milia

These tiny and painless white bumps can appear out of nowhere. They are almost undetectable unless they cluster in a circular formation and become more than just visible.

You can figure out one way to get rid of them, pop it! But when you squeeze these white bumps, nothing comes out or happens.

These tiny circles may baffle you and you may begin to wonder, what’s the deal! 

The deal is, you may experience something known as milia. According to a New York City-based dermatologist, Shari Marchbein, milia intends to look like whiteheads, but they have nothing in common. They cannot be extracted using typical ways to remove acne, because they are simply not the same!

Now that you know about milia, types, and symptoms, we can move on to treating this skin condition with the right measures. Here are some of the best ways to treat milia:


Skincare Routine

Cleansing Regularly

When you wash your face and gently scrub the tough areas like cheeks and nose, you become less prone to milia occurrence.

Your skin will become balanced and healthy. To remove milia naturally, you can wash your face twice a day and gently pat dry with a washing cloth, instead of letting it air dry.

This will help remove the milia naturally with a simple method of cleaning and drying.

Steaming Pores

Another great way to extract whatever is inside these pores is to steam them up! After cleansing, it can be highly beneficial to steam the pores and open them up, to remove future irritants.

Start by sitting in your bathroom with the shower running on hot settings. This will gently fill the room with light, warm steam.

You can sit in the steam for 5 to 8 minutes, which will open up the pores and release the skin flakes trapped inside.

Turn off the shower after a few minutes and take a few more minutes. Then gently pat dry your face, rinse with lukewarm water, and wash away all the irritants that are trapped under these white bumps.

Exfoliation of the Skin

Firstly, learn about the areas that are most affected by milia for your skin. Different people suffer from different areas of difficulties, and this is why it is important to figure out such sections of your face.

Invest in a gentle and quality exfoliator that can free up your skin from any irritants and keratin build-up that results in milia.

Use exfoliating cleansers based with salicylic acid, citric acid, or glycolic acid. Remember not to exfoliate too much, as it can further irritate your skin and result in breakouts like acne.

Start by using the exfoliator twice a week and increase the count as you see fit to your skin.

Use Rose Water

Rose water has always been an essential part of any skincare routine. It is demineralized water that contains rose oil essentials.

They can be an anti-inflammatory agent that aids your skin to heal the trauma and prevent it from occurring.

Spray rose water on the affected areas twice a day after cleansing and you can see an improvement in the milia within a week. Be careful to avoid eye areas as rose oil may irritate the skin.

Facial Peels

Facial Peels Are Designed To Remove The Impurities Deeply Embedded In Your Skin. They Also Contain Natural Exfoliating Agents That Help Remove The Dirt Without Causing Harsh Damage To The Skin.

You can use a facial peel that is not too strong but effectively removes the milia. You may already have facial peels as a part of your skincare routine, and it is safe to be used as a treatment for milia.

If you’re new to facial peels and want to avoid them to get rid of milia, then you can consult your dermatologist on the concept. If you have sensitive skin then you should avoid face peels.

Retinoid Cream

As per many researchers, topical retinoid creams are one of the best skincare products on the market.

They contain vitamin A and antioxidants that are healthy for your skin. You can use a retinol cream once every day and only apply after cleansing and scrubbing the face.

You can also get retinol as a serum and add it to your regular moisturizer, or go for a retinol-infused daily cream.

Either way, this product will help you to maintain a youthful glow, remove the milia, and also keep them at bay!

​Light Facial Sunscreen

Sunscreen is important, period! Whether you’re suffering from milia or have a healthy skin, the sun exposure to your skin can be harmful and lead to even worse skin troubles.​

The primary benefit of using a sunscreen if you’re suffering from milia is that it reduces the impact of UV rays and pollutants on your skin.​

It won’t lead to pores clogging or impurities getting trapped under the milia. You should look for a sunscreen that offers protection of SPF 30 or more.​

Most of the skin-friendly sunscreens have mineral oil, which as opposed to other oils don’t lead to the clogging of pores.

You should also read the instructions carefully and examine the ingredients, before picking the right one.


Medical Treatments

Milia can be easy to remove or persistent. If the milia on your face are not disappearing after a healthy skin care routine, or they tend to grow more, then it is time for some medical treatments.

There are a plethora of options that you can pick, to help get rid of milia and prevent them from coming back.

If medication hasn’t removed your milia, then your dermatologist may suggest some medical treatment options.

Here are some of the most trusted and applicable medical treatments that have yielded great results.


De-roofing is a tissue-saving surgical procedure that is used to treat mild lesions, acne, and milia.

In this procedure, your surgeon will remove the top of the milia and turns it into a scar that will heal over time.

This helps save the surrounding healthy tissues and remove the origination of this problem.

This doesn’t mean that you can pop or pick the milia at home. It is a surgical procedure, which should be performed under doctor’s supervision.


Curettage is a procedure that is used to treat lesions like acne and milia. They work by removing off the damaged tissue from the top with an electric needle.

It is a quick and inexpensive procedure to treat severe milia. The area around the white bumps is injected with a medication that numbs the sensation.

The curette is used in the procedure. It is a long and thin instrument that has a loop at the end.

The soft tissue is then scrapped manually using an electric needle, also known as an electrode.

It cauterizes the remaining milia and also prevents them from future occurrence. Cauterizing means burning a wound.

This procedure destroys the damaged tissues and doesn’t cause damage to the healthy skin.

The doctor may use this procedure for up to 3 times to reach the firm dermis tissue and remove the milia on the inside.

The number of re-treatments requires generally depends upon the impact on your skin after the first session.

This also highly depends upon your dermatologist advice.


To get a flawless and spotless skin, cryotherapy is often done to remove age spots, moles, skin tags, and milia.

It is an ideal and non-invasive solution to effectively remove the unsightly flaws that include age spots and warts.

Cryotherapy procedure uses liquid nitrogen and state-of-the-art device, which jets highly compressed liquefied nitrous oxide onto the targeted areas.

This freezes or destroys the milia within seconds. The procedure doesn’t hurt, but you will have a sensation of getting pricked by a ballpoint pen.

You can follow-up after 2 weeks and get the exact impact of this therapy from your dermatologist.

Don’t forget to discuss your medical history with your doctor before undergoing the procedure.


Minocycline is an oral medication used to treat a variety of skin conditions like acne and milia. It belongs to a class of antibiotics like tetracycline that prevent bacteria from re-growing.

Your doctor may prescribe a milder dose of this medication for milia. It will help remove the growth of bacterial impurities under the milia and will eventually help in its removal.

One of the best advantages of taking this medication is that it fights bacteria and reduces inflammation, all at the same time. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps reduce redness or swelling due to milia.

It can take over six weeks to work, so you have to be patient. Consult with your doctor before taking any oral medication and also discuss the dose and duration of your course.


Natural Remedies

If You’re Not Someone Who Is Into Medical Treatments And Skincare Products, Then You Can Always Treat Your Milia With Natural Sources.​

These keratin-filled cysts can persist for months and here are some of the best ways to remove milia with home remedies. 

Facial Sauna

Treat your milia by taking a face steam at the convenience of your home. This will help remove the dead skin cells and debris.​

Simply soak a clean towel in hot water, wring out the excess, let it cool down for a few minutes and place it o your face for a few minutes.​

You can also add apple cider vinegar or castor oil into the water for enhanced clearing. Repeat a couple of times on a daily basis, and you will see an instant reduction in your milia.​

This will open up the pores and will let off the stuck skin flakes and other impurities. 

Honey Mask

Honey is an excellent natural antioxidant source that comes with humectant properties.​

It also retains moisture of the skin and avoids dryness. You can add half a teaspoon of grounded coffee in a generous amount of honey.​

Use this as a homemade scrub and leave it on for 15 minutes. Gently remove the mixture and you will see improvement on a daily basis.​

You can also mix honey with jojoba oil and apply it your face and neck for 15 minutes. To create another honey mask, you can add oatmeal and granulated sugar into the mixture and create a powerful face scrub for milia.​

You can repeat these masks four to five times a week. 

Pomegranate Peel Powder

Use a roasted pomegranate peel powder, as it is full of antioxidants and exfoliating properties.

It is also rich in Vitamin C and healthy for your skin. It soothes acne and pimples and results in a glowing skin.​

Simply roast some pomegranate peel until it becomes dark brown and brittle. Crush the peel into a fine powder.​

Add lemon juice and rose water into the powder, to make a paste. Gentle scrub it on your face and leave it on for 15 minutes.​

Perform this remedy thrice a week to a get a beautiful and milia-free skin. 

Castor Oil

Castor oil has natural, anti-bacterial properties that also help in controlling of oil production. It can cure a number of skin problems like milia and acne.​

You can apply half a tablespoon of castor oil onto your face directly or mix it with equal parts of olive oil.​

You can also make a paste of castor oil with baking soda and apply only to the affected areas. Repeat this remedy twice a week for a milia-free skin. 

​Sugar Scrub

Now you can use sugar for more than one reason. It makes for a great natural scrub that removes impurities effectively.​

You can gently scrub the sugar directly on the affected areas or mix it with lemon juice and olive oil.​

Leave it on for 20 minutes and do this twice a week. Your skin will become softer and brighter within days. It can also prevent the militias from future occurrence.

Facts About Milia

Milia are often referred to as a minor skin complaint that presents as small and round nodules, slightly higher on the skin level.​

Now that you know all about milia and how to treat this skin trouble, it is time to know some fun facts about these white bumps.

  • The singular term is millium and plural is milia.
  • They lie superficially below the surface of the skin.
  • They are also known as milk spots or oilseed.
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    They are filled with keratin and dry flakes.
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    They appear most commonly around eyelashes, nose, upper cheeks, or forehead.
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    It can also appear on the genitals and sometimes mistaken as an STD.
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    They are often confused with stubborn whiteheads. But, whiteheads are due to infection of sebaceous glands, whereas milia are due to the accumulation of dead skin cells.
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    Milia can also form due to the thick epidermis.
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    They don’t get infected.

Milia Diet And Nutrition

Apart from undergoing treatments, adopting a healthy skin care routine, or going with the home remedies, there is another thing that you can do to prevent milia.​

Taking a healthy diet that is filled with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains plays an important role in your skin care.​

This can also directly impact the occurrence and removal of milia. For example, an excess of vitamin C or lack of it can result in milia on your skin. Intake of sugary products and spicy food can also result in acne and milia.​

To keep your skin and health on the right track, you should go for Vitamin A enriched foods like carrots, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and other items.​

You should also avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks, salty food, and excessive eating of chocolates. 

Yoga and exercise also play an important role in the prevention of milia. When your skin is fresh and sheds dead skin cells effectively, there won’t be a reason for milia formation.​

Regular exercise sheds the unwanted skin cells and impurities in form of sweat. This means that your pores are cleaner and healthier when you workout.​

Regular exercise programs like swimming, jogging, and walking can have a great impact on your milia problem. 

Milia is one of the mildest skin problems that are common in newborns and adults. Reasons for its occurrence may be different with age, but the result is the same.​

Even though in newborn and kids milia can disappear on its own, the adults may have to work for it.​

There are numerous treatments and skincare options that you can go for, to prevent their occurrence and reduce their appearance. 

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About the Author Linda

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