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Milialar: Everything You Need to Know About These Tiny White Bumps



Milialar or Milia, those tiny, innocuous-looking bumps occasionally appearing on our skin, can raise significant questions. They are caused by dead skin cells becoming trapped under the skin’s surface. Milia can appear anywhere on the body, but they are most commonly found on the face, especially around the eyes and cheeks. What are they? How do they form? Are they a cause for concern? This comprehensive article delves into the world of milia, shedding light on their nature, causes, treatment options, and more.

 What Are Milialar? – Defining Milialar

Milia, often colloquially referred to as “milk spots” or “oil seeds,” are small, benign cysts that can appear on the skin’s surface. These tiny bumps are characterized by their dome-shaped, white, or yellowish appearance. They most commonly manifest on facial areas such as the nose, cheeks, and around the eyes. Milia develops when keratin, a natural protein found in the outer layer of the skin, becomes trapped beneath the surface. While milia are generally harmless, they can be a source of cosmetic concern.

There are different types of milia, with primary and secondary as the most common. Primary milia result from the entrapment of skin flakes (keratin) in hair follicles and can affect individuals of all ages. Secondary milia, on the other hand, form due to an underlying skin condition or injury, such as burns or prolonged sun damage.

These small cysts are typically painless and considered harmless. However, they can be a cosmetic concern, mainly when they occur in apparent areas of the face. Understanding the nature of milia, its causes, and available treatment options can help individuals manage these blemishes effectively and maintain healthy skin.

Types of Milia

There are several types of milia, categorized based on their underlying causes:

Primary Milia:

These are common milia that can affect people of all ages. They typically occur due to trapping skin flakes (keratin) in hair follicles. These small, white, or yellowish bumps are benign and can affect individuals of all ages. While typically harmless, they may be a cosmetic concern, mainly when they appear on the face.


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Secondary Milia:

Secondary milia form due to underlying skin conditions or injuries like burns or prolonged sun damage. These small, white, or yellowish cysts are a variant of milia and may arise due to trauma. While they are usually harmless, addressing the primary skin issue is essential for treatment.

Neonatal Milia:

These milia affect newborns and infants. They often appear on the nose and face but disappear within a few weeks. Neonatal milia are tiny, benign cysts that appear on the faces of newborns and infants. These small, white, or yellowish bumps typically emerge on the nose and cheeks shortly after birth. Neonatal milia are transient and usually vanish within a few weeks, requiring no specific treatment.

Milia en Plaque:

This rare milia form appears as multiple bumps within an inflamed skin patch. Milia en plaque is a rare variant of milia characterized by numerous cysts clustered within an inflamed, raised patch of skin. This condition is associated with certain conditions and requires medical evaluation and treatment. It is distinct from typical milia due to its unique presentation and underlying causes.

What Causes Milialar? – The Keratin Connection

The development of milia is primarily linked to keratin, a protein found in the outermost layer of the skin. When keratin becomes trapped under the skin’s surface, it can lead to the formation of milia. Milia develops due to the keratin connection—the trapping of keratin, a natural protein found in the skin’s outer layer. When this protein becomes entrapped beneath the skin’s surface, it can lead to the formation of milia. Common causes include skin injuries, heavy skincare products that obstruct natural skin shedding, sun damage thickening the skin’s outer layer, and, in some cases, genetic predisposition. Understanding these causes is essential for managing and preventing milia, particularly for those seeking to maintain healthy, blemish-free skin. But what causes keratin to become trapped in the first place?

Common Causes of Milialar

Skin Injury:

Trauma to the skin, such as burns or blisters, can disrupt the normal shedding of skin cells, leading to the formation of milia. Trauma disrupts the skin’s natural shedding process, leading to the accumulation of keratin under the surface. These small, benign cysts may develop in response to various types of skin damage and can be managed with appropriate care.


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Heavy Skincare Products:

Heavy, occlusive skincare products, like thick creams or ointments, can sometimes trap keratin and contribute to milia development. These products may trap keratin and hinder the skin’s natural shedding process. Using non-comedogenic or lighter skincare options can help prevent the development of these small, benign cysts and maintain healthy skin.

Sun Damage:

Excessive sun exposure can thicken the skin’s outer layer, making it more challenging for dead skin cells to shed naturally, potentially leading to milia. Prolonged UV radiation can reduce the skin’s outer layer, making it difficult for dead skin cells to shed naturally. Practicing sun protection, such as sunscreen use and protective clothing, can reduce the risk of developing milia due to sun damage.


Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing milia. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to create these small cysts. While genetic factors can influence their occurrence, other causes, such as skin injury or heavy skincare products, often contribute to their formation. Understanding these factors helps in managing Milia effectively.

Signs and Symptoms

 Identifying Milia

Milia are relatively easy to identify due to their characteristic appearance. Key signs and symptoms include:

– Small, white, or yellowish bumps on the skin’s surface.

– Dome-shaped, with a firm texture.

– Typically painless, though they may cause discomfort near sensitive areas like the eyes.

Is Milia a Cause for Concern? – Generally Harmless

In most cases, milia are harmless and don’t require medical attention. They are considered benign cysts that pose no health risks. However, their appearance can be a cosmetic concern for some individuals, mainly if they occur prominently on the face.

When to Seek Medical Advice

While milia are usually nothing to worry about, there are instances where it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional:

Persistent or Worsening Milia:

If milia persist or increase in number, it may be a sign of an underlying skin condition that requires evaluation.

Discomfort or Pain:

Milia should not be painful. If they cause discomfort, it’s worth consulting a dermatologist.

Secondary Milia:

If milia develop as a result of an injury, burn, or underlying skin condition, addressing the primary issue is essential.

Treatment Options

Spontaneous Resolution

In many cases, milia will resolve on their own without the need for medical intervention. This is particularly true for neonatal milia in infants, which tend to disappear within a few weeks.

Professional Extraction

For persistent milia, especially those causing cosmetic concern, a dermatologist can safely extract them using specialised tools. This procedure is relatively simple and minimally invasive.

Topical Retinoids

Dermatologists may recommend topical retinoids, such as tretinoin, to promote skin cell turnover and help milia naturally shed. This treatment is typically reserved for milia that persist despite other measures.

Chemical Peels

In some cases, chemical peels containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) may help to exfoliate the skin and facilitate the removal of milia.


Cryotherapy involves freezing milia with liquid nitrogen, causing them to blister and eventually fall off. This treatment is generally safe and effective when performed by a dermatologist.


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Home Care and Prevention

 Proper Skincare

To prevent milia and promote healthy skin, consider the following skincare practices:

– Use non-comedogenic skincare products that won’t clog pores.

– Avoid heavy, oil-based moisturizers if you are prone to milia.

– Gently exfoliate your skin regularly to encourage the shedding of dead skin cells.

Sun Protection

Protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure can also reduce the risk of milia. Use sunscreen daily and wear protective clothing, especially in sunny conditions.

Hands Off Approach

Resist the urge to squeeze or pop milia at home. Attempting to remove them alone can lead to infection, scarring, or further irritation.


Milia may be small, but they can loom large as a cosmetic concern for some individuals. It is essential to understand what milia are, their causes, and when to seek medical advice. While they are generally harmless and often resolve independently, it’s critical to approach them with care and seek professional guidance if necessary. Milia can be a temporary blemish on your skin, but with the proper skincare practices and, if needed, medical intervention, you can maintain healthy, radiant skin. When in doubt, consult a dermatologist to ensure the best care for your skin and peace of mind.