Milialar: Everything You Need to Know About These Tiny Cysts

Do you have small, pearly white bumps on your skin that just won’t go away? If so, you may be dealing with milialar – a common skin condition that can affect people of all ages.

Milialar (also called milk spots or oil seeds) refers to tiny, painless cysts that form when dead skin cells get trapped beneath the surface of the skin. This article will cover everything you need to know about this pesky skin problem – from causes and risk factors to treatment options and prevention tips.

Some key things to understand about Milialar:

  • Milialar is characterized by small (1-2mm), dome-shaped bumps on the skin, usually on the face around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead.
  • The bumps are white or yellowish in color and have a pearl-like or grainy appearance.
  • Milialar is not acne, although it can resemble acne. The bumps are benign cysts, not inflamed pores.
  • Milialar is generally painless, although the bumps may feel rough or uneven. Some itching or irritation can occur.
  • Milialar is very common, affecting up to 40% of infants and around 10% of adults.

Let’s look closer at what causes this condition, and how to banish milia for good!

Signs and Symptoms of Milialar

How do you know if you have milia? There are some clear signs and symptoms to look out for.

The main symptom is small, pearly-white, or yellowish bumps on the skin surface. These tiny lumps may resemble grains of sand or pearls.

Other symptoms and characteristics of milialar include:

  • Location – Milia commonly occurs on the face, especially around the eyes, cheeks, forehead, and nose. However, they can appear on other areas like the chest, back, and shoulders.
  • Color – The bumps are usually white or yellowish in tone.
  • Size – Individual milia range from 1-2 millimeters in diameter. They are tiny!
  • Appearance – Milia are dome-shaped and smooth-topped. They resemble grains, pearls, or small cysts.
  • Texture – Areas with milia may feel rough or uneven to the touch.
  • Number – Some people get just a few sporadic milia, while others get clusters.
  • Discomfort – Milia is typically painless. However, some itching or irritation may occur.
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If you are noticing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist for proper evaluation and treatment. Don’t try to pop them yourself!

Who Gets Milialar and Why?

What causes milia? Milialar results from trapped dead skin cells beneath the surface of the epidermis. This leads to tiny cysts forming in small pockets or crevices in the skin.

Several factors can contribute to dead skin buildup and milia development:

  • Excess keratin – Milia contain keratin, a protein that makes up skin and hair. Too much keratin production can obstruct pores.
  • Genetics – Some people are genetically prone to milia and cystic skin. Family history can play a role.
  • Hormones – Hormonal changes related to puberty, pregnancy, or menopause can trigger milia.
  • Sun exposure – UV radiation from the sun damages collagen, impairing normal skin cell shedding.
  • Skin irritation – Inflammation from rashes, burns, or wounds can cause milia around healing areas.
  • Heavy creams – Thick moisturizers or makeup can clog pores and lead to milia.

Nearly everyone can get milia at some point, but infants and mature adults are the most susceptible due to immature or aging skin. Let’s look more closely at factors that affect your milialar risk.

Causes and Contributing Factors of Milialar

What exactly leads to milialar formation? A few key causes are responsible for trapping dead skin and creating cysts. Being aware of these can help you prevent and treat milia.

Buildup of Dead Skin Cells

Milia contain trapped, dead keratinized skin cells that weren’t properly exfoliated. As we age, skin cell turnover slows down. Dead cells can accumulate in the small depressions in the skin, rather than sloughing off normally. This keratin debris causes small cysts called milia.

Risk factors: Aging, sun damage, genetics, not exfoliating regularly


Some individuals and families seem prone to milia and cystic acne. Researchers believe there is a hereditary component where milia risk may be passed down genetically.

If you have a parent or siblings with milia, you may have a genetic predisposition for milial development. Hormonal factors related to genetics can also play a role.

Hormonal Shifts

Hormone fluctuations are a common milia trigger. The hormonal changes of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can all stimulate oil production and dead skin buildup.

Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy have also been associated with milia outbreaks in some individuals due to shifting hormone levels.

Skincare and Lifestyle Factors

Certain skincare habits and lifestyle choices can exacerbate clogged pores and dead skin. This creates an environment ripe for milia.

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Too much scrubbing, astringent, and heavy creams may irritate skin and worsen milia. A diet high in processed foods and sugar, stress, lack of sleep, and smoking can also impede proper skin function.

Types of Milialar

There are a few different classifications of milia based on their cause and location. The two main types are primary and secondary milia.

Primary Milia

Primary milia occur without any apparent trauma, inflammation, or skin damage. They are usually idiopathic – meaning there is no definitive cause.

Primary milia are common in infants and young children due to immature skin, but also frequently affect adults. They typically appear as scattered singular lesions on the face.

Secondary Milia

Secondary milia are the result of skin injury, blistering, inflammation, or trauma. They develop after some sort of irritation or damage to the skin.

Common causes of secondary milia include:

  • Sunburns
  • Eczema
  • Pemphigoid blisters
  • Thermal or chemical burns
  • Skin reactions from medication
  • Dermabrasion or laser resurfacing procedures

Secondary milia tend to occur in clusters or groups concentrated around damaged or healing areas of skin. Treating the underlying condition is key to eliminating secondary milia.

Who is at Risk for Developing Milia?

What age group is affected by milia? Milia can develop at any age, but there are certain groups at increased risk.


About 40% of newborns develop milia, typically on the face. The cause is underdeveloped exfoliation. Infant milia normally disappear quickly without treatment.

Teens/Young Adults

Hormonal acne in puberty makes teens and young adults prone to milia. Clogged pores from excess oil and poor cleansing also contribute.

Middle-Aged Adults

Aging leads to slower cell turnover and reduced collagen. Milia becomes more common in middle age due to these skin changes. Sun exposure also plays a role.

Genetics, nutrition, and medication side effects may also increase susceptibility as we get older. Consulting a dermatologist can help determine the causes.

Treatments and Removal Options for Milialar

How can I get rid of Milia? Milia treatment targets the trapped keratin and aims to safely open and clear the cysts. Some options include:

Watch and Wait

If milia are mild and not bothersome, simply waiting for them to clear up naturally is reasonable. Many infant milia resolve without any treatment. Monitor your skin for changes.

Gentle Exfoliation

Over-the-counter chemical exfoliants with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid or lactic acid can help. Apply a thin layer to clean skin 2-3 times per week to enhance cell turnover and unclog pores.

Professional Extraction

A dermatologist may surgically extract milia using a small, sterile needle. This also allows them to analyze a cyst’s contents under a microscope. Extraction helps prevent further inflammation or secondary infection.


Controlled microdermabrasion gently sands away the top superficial layer of skin. This can remove milia with minimal discomfort or recovery time. Multiple treatments may be needed.

Chemical Peels

Medium-depth peels with trichloroacetic acid (TCA) work well for stubborn facial milia. The acid dissolves bonds between dead and living skin cells, so milia essentially dissolve and peel away.

Laser Therapy

Ablative and fractionated CO2 lasers vaporize surface skin precisely. Laser resurfacing can eliminate superficial milia with minimal collateral damage to surrounding skin.


Topical retinoids may help keep pores clear. Oral isotretinoin can reduce oil production and prevent recurrent milia in severe cases. Discuss all medication options thoroughly with your dermatologist.

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Consider trying a gentle approach first, then progressing to more intensive treatments if milia persists. Milia removal takes patience, but clearer skin is possible!

How to Prevent Milia

You can minimize milia recurrence or formation by caring for your skin properly. Here are some key milia prevention tips:

Gentle Cleansing

Wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and debris without over-drying or irritating skin. Avoid harsh scrubs.


Use a chemical exfoliant 1-2 times per week to facilitate cell turnover. Salicylic acid or glycolic acid products work well for keeping pores clear.

Non-Comedogenic Products

Choose oil-free, non-comedogenic cosmetics and sunscreens that won’t clog pores. Check labels before buying.

Lightweight Moisturizers

Pick breathable, water-based moisturizers. Avoid super-rich creams and lotions that can congest pores and create milia.

Sun Protection

Shield skin from UV rays daily using broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. Sun damage impairs normal cell shedding and increases milial development.

Balanced Diet

Eat fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Getting enough key nutrients helps the skin stay healthy.

Don’t Pick!

Resist squeezing or picking at milia. This can worsen inflammation and potentially cause scarring or infection.

Stay diligent with prevention habits, and see your dermatologist promptly if milia develops. Consistent care keeps this common skin complaint under control.

Living with Milia: Self-Care Tips

Dealing with stubborn milia can be disheartening. Here are some self-care suggestions for coping physically and emotionally if you have persistent milia:

  • Acceptance – Accept that milia are very common. Don’t fixate on imperfections – embrace your natural beauty!
  • Gentleness – Be gentle with your skin. Avoid scrubbing or over-washing which will only worsen milia.
  • Patience – Improving milia takes time. Stick with a treatment routine and let it work rather than expecting overnight results.
  • Don’t Obsess – examine your skin weekly for changes, but don’t obsessively check multiple times a day. Reduce stress levels.
  • Moisturize – Keep skin hydrated with a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer suitable for your skin type.
  • Sunscreen – Protect your complexion from further sun damage by applying SPF 30 sunscreen daily.
  • Professional Care – See your dermatologist to discuss personalized treatment options. With expert guidance, you can achieve healthier skin.
  • Stay Hopeful – Have faith that with consistent care, your milia will gradually improve. It may take trial and error but you’ll find what works for you!


For many people, Milialar is an unavoidable skin annoyance that comes and goes. However, understanding what causes these small cysts and how to treat them properly can help minimize their occurrence and duration.

While milia are not dangerous, they can certainly be frustrating and detrimental to self-confidence. The tips in this guide equip you to take control of your skin health while also cultivating self-acceptance.

With diligent prevention habits and the right dermatologist-approved therapies, clearer skin is attainable. But also remember – your worth is defined by far more than a few tiny bumps!

FAQs About Milialar

What does Milialar feel like?

Milialar generally feels smooth and firm to the touch. The skin surface may feel uneven or bumpy in areas where milia clusters are present. Milia are typically not painful, but mild itching or irritation can sometimes occur.

How do you know if bumps are milia?

The best way to confirm bumps are milia is to visit a dermatologist. They can examine the lesions and distinguish milia from conditions like acne. However, the small size, whitish color, and pearl-like appearance are characteristic of milia.

How long does it take for Milialar to go away?

There is no set timeframe for Milia’s disappearance. Primary milia in infants and children often clear spontaneously within several weeks. But milia in teens and adults may be stubborn without treatment. Gentle exfoliation helps speed up their elimination.

Can Milia be popped?

Popping or squeezing milia is not recommended. Doing so can damage the surrounding skin and cause scarring or infection in the cyst cavity. It’s best to have a dermatologist surgically extract milia properly.

Are milia harmful?

Milia are benign cysts that do not pose any health risks or turn cancerous. However, they can potentially become red, irritated, and inflamed if touched/picked. The main concern is cosmetic – milia affect appearance and self-esteem.
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Bikram is the founder of He is a professional blogger with 5 years of experience who is interested in topics related to SEO, technology, and the internet. Our goal with this blog is to provide you with valuable information.

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