Milia are small (1-2 mm) cysts that can form under the skin due to skin flakes or keratin becoming trapped. Most often, milia appear in newborns (sometimes mistakenly called “baby acne”), although they can occur at any age. These small white bumps usually disappear on their own but can be treated if they are chronic or recurring.

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The following symptoms occur with milia:

  • Small, white or yellow bumps on the skin
  • Bumps may become irritated or red due to rough clothing or friction
  • Usually appearing on the face, lips, cheeks, or eyelids

Milia are not associated with itching or pain.


It is not known why milia occur in infants. For older individuals, milia is usually associated with damage to the skin. Examples include burns, blisters, sun damage, prolonged use of steroid creams, skin resurfacing treatments, and aging. Rare disorders can also be associated with milia formation in juveniles and adults.


Treatment is not necessary for most individuals with milia. If milia cysts cause discomfort, effective treatments include:

  • Cryotherapy: the milia are frozen off
  • Deroofing: the milia is picked out with a sterile needle
  • Chemical peels: the milia are peeled off with the surface skin
  • Laser treatment: a laser handpiece destroys the milia
  • Topical retinoid cream: exfoliates the skin to remove the milia
  • Destruction curettage: the milia are scraped off and cauterized