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What Are The Symptoms Of Milia?

Milia refers to tiny little bumps, that may be white or yellowish in color and that typically occur on the skin of the nose, chin or cheek. It is usually seen to be occurring in newborns and infants, but can also be seen in people of all ages[1]

What Are The Symptoms Of Milia?

Milia are described as tiny bumps that are dome-shaped and are usually white or yellow in color

What Are The Symptoms Of Milia?

  • They are not itchy or painful usually
  • But, they may cause a degree of discomfort in some people
  • Due to any kind of irritation, the milia may appear reddish
  • Milia produce different symptoms in different age groups.

Symptoms of milia in newborns-

  • In newborns and infants, primary milia are seen to be occurring as tiny bumps that are about 1-2 mm in diameter
  • They usually appear around the nose, eyes, chin, cheeks and forehead
  • They are sometimes seen on the legs, arms, trunk and mucus membranes as well
  • Occasionally, they are seen inside the mouths of the infants. These are called Epstein perals
  • Sometimes, milia may accompany other skin conditions like baby acne

Symptoms of milia in older children and grownups-

  • In other age groups, milia can seem to be similar to other skin conditions
  • Skin conditions like moles and cancers can be similar to milia
  • Some other skin conditions may include cysts, xanthelasma, syringomas, comedones, seborrheic keratosis etc.[2]

Causes Of Milia

  • The exact causes of milia are not known in newborns
  • Milia are usually understood as baby acne, which are caused by the hormones from the mother
  • However, baby acne cause inflammation and swelling while milia do not.
  • Also, babies are usually born with milia, but baby acne occurs after birth, usually between two to four weeks of birth.

Causes of milia in older children and grownups-

In older children and grownups, some kind of skin damage is usually the cause of milia-

There can be a skin condition which can lead to blistering. These may include conditions like cicatricial pemphigoid, epidermolysis bullosa (EB) or porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT)

  • There can be other injuries that may cause blistering, like poison ivy
  • There can be a skin damage due to a long -term exposure to harmful sun rays
  • There could be a skin damage due to a long -term use of steroid skin creams
  • There could be damage to the skin due to burns
  • There could be damage to the skin due to procedures like laser resurfacing or dermabrasion
  • Also, if the skin cannot exfoliate naturally, it can result in milia. This is most commonly seen during the process of aging[3] [4]

Different Types Of Milia

Milia are classified into different types according to the age at which the cysts develop. They are also classified depending upon the causes of the cyst development. Primary milia and secondary milia are the major two types of milia.

The different types of milia are-

  • Neonatal milia
  • Primary milia in older children and adults
  • Juvenile milia
  • Milia en plaque
  • Multiple eruptive milia
  • Traumatic milia
  • Milia related to drugs or products[5]

Treatment Of Milia

There is no need to treat milia, as it usually disappears on its own within a few weeks or months at most. However, if milia is causing you discomfort, then several methods like cryotherapy, deroofing, chemical peels, topical retinoids, diathermy etc., can be used to help get relief from milia. Your dermatologist will be the best person to guide you on this.

Milia do not cause any long-term problems. In newborns and infants, milia usually disappear within a few weeks after birth. In older children and grownups, it may take some time, but milia are not a matter of much concern in general. In case the condition does not resolve within a few weeks or months, it is recommended to check with your doctor, so that the doctor can rule out any other skin condition.[6]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2022

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