What is Milia?

Individuals with Milia have small bumps on the surface of their skin. This condition can occur in people of all ages, but it is most common in newborn babies. There are several classifications of these minuscule cysts and various reasons why they occur.

Neonatal and primary milia are caused by keratin protein that builds up underneath the skin. Individuals with milia en plaque have an autoimmune or genetic condition that causes the bumps to appear. Traumatic milia are the result of skin injuries, such as a rash or a burn. Although uncommon, some people get milia from using a topical steroid medication.

What are the Symptoms of Milia?

These tiny white or yellow protuberances appear in clusters, and on newborns, they appear on the baby’s face, scalp and the upper portion of the body. Individuals who have primary milia will notice these bumps on their forehead, eyelids and genitals. Milia en plaque can also appear on the eyelids, as well as the jaw, cheeks and ears.

When individuals have skin lesions due to injuries, traumatic milia will appear at the location of the injury. There is often skin irritation with this type of milia, which causes redness in the outer perimeter of the cysts. Some individuals with milia report itchiness in the skin, but usually, there are not any other symptoms besides the presence of the cysts.

How is Milia Treated?

When babies have this condition, the cysts will eventually leave after a couple of weeks, so they do not need any type of treatment. Adults and children with milia may have it for a few months before it disappears completely. On occasion, if the cysts become problematic, there are various treatments available.

Topical ointments can be applied to the cysts to clear them up. A procedure that freezes the cysts, called cryotherapy, is often used for removal. Additional treatments include destruction curettage, diathermy, deroofing, laser ablation and chemical peels.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017