What Is a Milium Cyst?

A milium cyst is little, white bump that normally appears on the nose and cheeks. These cysts are typically discovered in groups, and in these cases are called milia. The cysts take place when keratin ends up being trapped beneath the surface of the skin. Keratin is a strong protein that is generally discovered in skin tissues, hair, and nail cells.

Milia can occur in people of any ages, but they’re most common in newborns. They’re usually discovered on the face, eyelids, and cheeks. Milia are typically puzzled with a condition called Epstein pearls, which involves the appearance of harmless white-yellow cysts on a newborn’s gums and mouth. Milia are also frequently incorrectly described as “baby acne.”

Keep reading to get more information about milia in addition to their causes and what you can do to alleviate them.

What Causes Milia on Face?

The cause of milia in newborns is unknown. It’s typically mistaken for baby acne, which is triggered by hormones from the mother. Unlike baby acne, milia does not cause swelling (swelling). According to the Stanford School of Medicine, babies who have actually milia are born with it, while baby acne does not appear for a few weeks after birth.

In older children and grownups, milia are usually related to some type of damage to the skin, such as:

  • blistering due to a skin problem.
  • burns.
  • blistering injuries, such as poison ivy.
  • skin resurfacing treatments, such as dermabrasion or laser resurfacing.
  • long-lasting use of steroid creams.
  • long-lasting sun damage.

What Are the Types of Milia on Face?

Milia are little, dome-shaped bumps that are normally white or yellow. They’re usually not itchy or painful. However, they may cause pain for some individuals. Rough sheets or clothes may cause milia to become inflamed and red.

There are different types of milia. These cysts are categorized based upon the age at which they take place or the injury that causes the cysts to develop.

Neonatal Milia

This condition establishes in babies and heals within a couple of weeks. Cysts are typically seen on the face, scalp, and upper torso. According to the Stanford School of Medicine, milia happens in about 40 percent of newborn babies.

Juvenile Milia

This condition is caused by genetic disorders. These consist of:

  • nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.
  • pachyonychia congenita.
  • Gardner syndrome.
  • Bazex-Dupré-Christol syndrome.

Main Milia in Children and Adults

This condition is brought on by keratin trapped beneath the skin surface area. Cysts can be discovered around the eyelids, forehead, and on the genitalia. Main milia might vanish in a few weeks or last for numerous months.

Milia en Plaque

This condition is typically associated with hereditary or autoimmune skin conditions, such as discoid lupus or lichen planus. Milia en plaque can impact the eyelids, ears, cheeks, or jaw.

The cysts can be several centimeters in diameter. This condition is primarily seen in middle-aged women, however it can occur in adults and children of all genders and ages.

Multiple Eruptive Milia

This kind of milia consists of itchy areas that can appear on the face, arms, and torso. The cysts often appear over a period of time, varying from a few weeks to a few months.

Traumatic Milia

These cysts happen where injury to the skin has occurred. Examples include severe burns and rashes. The cysts may end up being irritated, making them red along the edges and white in the center.

Milia Associated with Drugs

Using steroid creams can result in milia on the face skin where the cream is used. Nevertheless, such side effects from topical medications are rare.

How Are Milia Diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine your skin and can identify if you have the condition based upon the look of the cysts.

How Are Milia on Face Treated?

There is no treatment required for baby milia. The cysts will generally improve within a couple of weeks. In older children and grownups, milia will disappear within a couple of months. There are some treatments that can be effective for eliminating these cysts if they cause discomfort.

Treatments include:

  • deroofing, or utilizing a sterilized needle to choose the contents of the cyst.
  • medications, such as topical retinoids (creams which contain vitamin A compounds).
  • chemical peels.
  • laser ablation, which includes using a little and focused laser to damage the cyst.
  • diathermy, which includes using severe heat to ruin the cysts.
  • destruction curettage, which involves surgical scraping and cauterization to destroy the cysts.
  • cryotherapy, which includes freezing and is the most regularly used approach to destroy the cysts.


Milia do not cause long-lasting problems. In babies, the cysts typically disappear within a few weeks after birth. While the procedure may take longer in older children and grownups, milia on face aren’t considered damaging. If your condition does not enhance within a few weeks, nevertheless, you might want to follow up with your skin specialist making sure it is not another skin condition.

Last modified: August 31, 2016


The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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