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Definition: Milia

Milia are deep white bumps that form when skin cells become trapped rather than exfoliated naturally. They turn into tiny cysts that look like whiteheads or bumps below the surface of the skin. Milia can occur on the skin or on mucous membranes like the inner surface of the cheek or the border of the lips and around the nose.

They are extremely common in children, and those with oily skin are more prone to milia than others. With that said, they can effect combination and even dry skin as well. Milia need to be extracted manually, but the good news is that according to dermatologist Zoe Friedman, milia can be prevented by exfoliating frequently at home.

Exfoliating helps keep your face clean while preventing clogged pores—when done properly. Do not abrasively scrub your face; simply use a gentle exfoliating cleanser twice a week. Also, when you're in the sun, opt for an oil-free sunscreen.

Remember that picking at milia on your own can cause them to return. If they persist, contact your dermatologist, who can administer microdermabrasion or glycolic peels.


Join The Conversation
aka-emilicious aka-emilicious 8 years
I have these above my eyes! I have wondered for ages what they were. Thanks!
potterlove potterlove 9 years
Oh god! So that's what those are! I have like two of 'em on me since I ran out of exfolianting scrub!
thoroughlymodern thoroughlymodern 9 years
I had a couple on my eyelid a couple of years ago that I eventually got rid of (don't remember how, but I know I was seeing a derm then...). The one near my eye right now that's been there for what seems like a year and I really want it to go away! I've been meaning to find a dermatologist anyway... But, yeah, I do remember reading that you shouldn't pick at them/ try to get it out on your own, and that's pretty sound advice. it's so tempting though! grr
zc zc 9 years
wow i never knew they were actually something like this- i have 2.
pattyxxcore pattyxxcore 9 years
Wow, I had no idea how many people got these! I thought I was the only one. I had one near my eye for years, then suddenly it fell off. I woke up the next day with a new one though.
designergirl designergirl 9 years
I actually get these between my breasts. I learned the hard way about picking one, because I had no clue what they were until now.
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 9 years
I think I may have a slight case of this.... thanks for the info!!! I'll def look into a cure!
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Hi all — Don't use a harsh scrub to deal with these things. It won't do the job, and it might actually scratch your skin. If you already have milia, it's worth going to the dermatologist. I know it can be expensive, but I've gotten to the point where I would rather save up and see the good doc than try to put things into my own hands (which is why I have an acne scar on my chin :() For cleansers, try Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser. It's the first AHA cleanser I tried, and it's fairly gentle for first-timers. It also has really gentle exfoliating beads that are small and smooth. I'm also curious about their Illuminating Microderm Cleansing Pads — that might be another option. Sorry to sound like a Neutrogena shill, but while I love fancy skin care, I always like to try drugstore versions first. Easier on the wallet!
amybdk amybdk 9 years
I had several on my eyelids. I went to the derm to have them taken off. It felt awful!
thatsmypurse thatsmypurse 9 years
I currently have 2 patches of them on either side of my chin. Now that I know what they are maybe I'll make an appointment to get this taken care of!
AndiO1225 AndiO1225 9 years
I used to get them and had a few sessions of microderm and never had them again.
glamorouswink glamorouswink 9 years
Oh yeah and i got mines zapped off for free at my derm!!
glamorouswink glamorouswink 9 years
They turn into black heads if you dont extract them right.
TexasRoyalty TexasRoyalty 9 years
I get those every now and then on my eyelids, and it used to drive me CRAZY until someone told me what they were! Once I thought it was a stubborn white-head and picked at it...bad mistake. Now when I see one, I'll sort of prod at it after a hot shower, and eventually the little clump will go away.
auddie auddie 9 years
That's what they're called! Guess I better stop try to treat them like blemishes.
angels1 angels1 9 years
Thanks for the info...I have some on my cheeks and I never knew what they were!
mizz_jennii mizz_jennii 9 years
so that's what those damned things are!! gggrrrrr....i hate them :(
gloomyle gloomyle 9 years
thanks i never knew what they was called.. but these appear near my eye area, how do i get rid of that?
rnsmelody rnsmelody 9 years
OMG thanks for the inof! i just went to the dema today and he said i had to go somewhere else to get that taken care of =( is there any good exfoliating products out there that you can recommend?
laimar laimar 9 years
I get these, but only on my eyelids...any suggestions for milia here since I can't exfoliate my eyelids? Man, I LOVE Proactive! I've been using it for 3 years and think it has saved my skin!
Hootie Hootie 9 years
Thanks for the info! I get these and they drive me crazy! Proactive didn't work for me either! I have oily skin, I'm acne prone and I have sun damage... Anyone know of a good product for my whacked out skin?? LOL, thanks!
arista arista 9 years
So THAT'S what they're called! I never got them until I used Pro Activ, and I just blamed it on that worthless crap. Then after I quit using it and the bumps had gone away, I tried a toner by Nature's Cure, and they reappared. So, I figure the toner must have been what caused them. And that sucks because I have large pores, but, I'd rather have large pores than those icky looking bumps.
glamourize glamourize 9 years
i'm so glad i finally know what these are!
jmast jmast 9 years
Can you recommend a good gentle exfoliating scrub? Thanks! :)
jmast jmast 9 years
Thank you for this! I have one on my cheek and it's driving me insane!
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