Tiny White Bumps on the Skin

...

Milia are small harmless white skin bumps that most often occur across the nose, cheeks and chin, but can appear anywhere on the body. Infants are most prone to milia, but children and adults can also be affected, with older women having a higher occurrence of milia than other adults.

Identification

Milia resemble tiny whiteheads, but unlike whiteheads, they usually aren't surrounded by red or inflamed tissue. Milia are usually painless, but can become irritated by rough clothing.

Causes

Milia occur when dead skin cells become trapped under an outer layer of skin and then form small cysts, walled off from the surrounding tissue, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Milia most often occur when the skin isn't able to effectively exfoliate, or slough off, dead cells. Heavy moisturizers, creams, cleansers, suntan lotions and hair-care products can trap dead skin cells, causing milia.

Heavy sun exposure can cause thicker skin, which is more prone to milia.

Porphyria cutanea tarda, a dermatological condition characterized by skin blistering and excessive hair growth on the face and hands, can also cause milia.

Treatment

Infant milia does not require treatment and will usually disappear within weeks after birth, according to MayoClinic.com.

Adult milia can be quickly removed in a dermatologist's office. The physician will first clean your skin with an alcohol swab or other antiseptic and then pierce the skin covering the milium with a sterile needle. At that point he will use a comedone extractor to apply pressure to the surrounding tissue, causing the cyst to pop to the surface of your skin.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent infant milia.

Reducing sun exposure may limit future milia. Switching to noncomedogenic or oil-free skin products, using retinol creams, using home exfoliating products and regularly visiting your dermatologist for microdermabrasions or glycolic acid peels may help you prevent milia, but if you are highly prone to the condition, these techniques are likely only to reduce the number of milia you form, not prevent them entirely.

Warning

Because of the risk of infection from non-sterile tools, adults should not try to self-remove milia at home, especially in sensitive areas like the eyelids.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.