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Milia: White Pimple-Like Bumps That Grow on the Skin

Updated on February 2, 2015
Milia that grows on the eyelids
Milia that grows on the eyelids

Milia are small milky-white or light yellow bumps that appear around the eye, forehead, above the lips, and on the cheeks. Milia that grow on the genitalia are often mistakenly assumed to be STDs. Milia do not affect everybody, but they do affect men and women of all ages. They are somewhat mysterious, and not believed to be caused by poor hygeine. They form when dead skin cells do not completely slough off the skin and remain trapped in a pocket of skin.

In more scientific terms, milia are benign keratin-filled cysts that grow just under the epidermis. They are commonly found on newborn babies but, as mentioned above, they can also affect anyone of any age or race.

These white, pimple like spots called milia often appear on baby faces. Do not pop them!
These white, pimple like spots called milia often appear on baby faces. Do not pop them!

Milia on Babies' Faces

If your baby's face sprouts these mysterious white bumps, don't panic! They're very common; some babies even have them at birth. Milia that grow on babies usually don't last for more than six weeks. Milia may form because the oil gland—also known as the sebaceous gland—may not yet be fully developed. Milia occur in up to fifty percent of infants and are considered normal.

Whatever you do, don't try to break or pop them! This could lead to an infection. Normally, milia go away on their own. If they persist for more than a few weeks or seem to be infected, you should visit your baby's doctor.

Protect your baby from the sun to avoid milia.
Protect your baby from the sun to avoid milia. | Source

Cause and Prevention of Milia

Milia can be caused by a few things:

  • Certain hair or skin care products can prevent dead skin cells from shedding completely. Stick to non-comedogenic beauty products to prevent milia forming from trapped dead skin.
  • Milia can be caused by sun damage. Wear a light sunscreen or a sun hat when outdoors to prevent them.
  • To remove the dead skin cells that cause milia, exfoliate your skin regularly with a scrub or chemical exfoliant.
  • Genetics may play a role in making one prone to milia. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about this other than to take care of your skin to minimize their occurrence.
  • Some people experience fluoride irritation from toothpaste which may cause milia to grow around the mouth.

This is it for a brief introduction of milia. While they may be unsightly, they are ultimately harmless. Again, if you notice anything unusual about milia, such as redness, pain, or swelling, go to a doctor to make sure it's not something more serious.


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      Betsy 4 years ago

      I love this accurate stuuf

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      Ben 5 years ago


      You won't die from that, you probably brused/damaged the skin around the milia and it just hurts. My dermatologist said he could pierce them out or I could do it myself with a safety pin -- if I wasn't afraid of a little pain. Since then I've been removing them myself by carefully puncturing the milia with a sterilized safety pin, then gently squeezing the milia out. They're like small pearls, really gross and strange.

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      Lily 6 years ago

      I took a small lance and poked the skin, then I squeezed and it came right out

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      Nino 6 years ago

      I have one under my eye and I tried to squeeze it but nothing happaned so now it hurting me, can I die from that and what can happen to me?

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      anonymous 6 years ago

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      Arun Thazhathuveetil 6 years ago


      Primary milia in infants does not need any treatment and will disappear over time. Primary or secondary milia in adults may go away on its own. If it does not, your doctor can use a retinoid cream, such as adapalene or tretinoin. Fruit acid peels or microdermabrasion is another option. According to Skinsight, your doctor may use a sterile lancet or scalpel to pierce each milia, then remove the milia with a comedone extractor.

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      maria 6 years ago

      i get these around my temples, and actually do what you're probably not supposed to do. First off i get a really really sharp tiiiny needle, then i disinfect my hands the needle and my face, and then i just go wild and poke them til the white stuff comes out. be careful tho, you don't want any scars on your face. afterwars be sure to apply some sort of cream or toner that will keep dirt away so it doesn't become infected. this has worked wonders for me for atleast 3 years.

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      ignacio  6 years ago

      these things are annoying. has anyone got a way to get rid of them

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      christine 7 years ago

      how to i get rid of these ugly things????

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      heather whitney 7 years ago

      can you ever get rid of the millia?