What is Milia

Milia are small, non-inflamed cysts that develop on the skin. They appear as tiny bumps with white heads, and develop when keratin gets trapped just below the surface of the skin. This condition is often confused with pimples (pustules) but it never becomes red or inflamed like acne. It is incredibly common and can occur at any age, from newborns to the elderly. Milia can often look like zits that you cannot pop. These cysts can be white or yellowish, hard, raised bumps on the face. They are generally small (1 to 2 millimeters in diameter) and develop anywhere on the body. The most common areas where these cysts develop include: around the eyes, the cheeks, nose and forehead. Milia aren’t painful and they do not itch. While they can be annoying, these cysts are completely harmless.


Before & After Photos

Frequently asked questions

Milia is caused when keratin, a plug of skin cells, gets trapped just beneath the surface of the skin. The visible white colour is the keratin plug showing through a thin layer of skin. It can occur when your skin doesn’t exfoliate or properly shed dead cells. Some people are more prone to developing them than others, and a vast majority of milia will just appear for no apparent reason. Sun exposure and sun damage can also make your skin more prone to developing this condition.

Although they are often included in the comedonal acne category, they aren’t technically acne breakouts. You can develop milia even if you don’t have common acne and your skin is relatively clear. Acne develops when pores become blocked; milia are tiny cysts that occur just under the top layer of skin, and not within the pore. The cysts can also stay on your skin much longer than acne as well, easily lasting weeks or months.


Milia can occur in people of all ages, of any ethnicity, and of either sex. Milia are so common in newborn babies (occurring in up to 50% of them) that they are considered normal.

Secondary milia may appear in affected skin of people with the following:

  • Blistering skin conditions
  • Burns
  • Blistering injury to skin, such as poison ivy
  • Following skin resurfacing procedures such as dermabrasion or laser resurfacing
  • Following long-term use of steroid creams
  • Chronic sun damage


Milia appear as 1–2 mm white-to-yellow, dome-shaped bumps that are not painful or itchy.

The most common locations for primary milia include:

  • Around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead in adults and infants
  • On the gums and palate inside the mouth of infants; these milia are called Epstein’s pearls, and they occur in up to 85% of infants

The most common locations for secondary milia include:

  • Anywhere on the body where another skin condition exists, particularly on the backs of the hands
  • On the faces of people who have had a lot of damage from sun exposure

If the diagnosis from the doctor is primary milia in an infant, no treatment is necessary, as the bumps will go away on their own within a few weeks.

Primary or secondary milia in an adult may disappear on their own, but these can be some options:

  • Piercing each milium with a sterile lancet or scalpel followed by removal of the cyst material with a tool called a comedone extractor by an aesthetician
  • Topical retinoid cream such as tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene – prescribed by your Dermatologist
  • ThermoClear procedure. ThermoClear is a radiofrequency current that is attracted to the water in various skin conditions. It uses a tiny probe on the surface of the skin to dehydrate the problem area, causing the body (over a few days) to exfoliate the dried skin that removes and clears the skin of the condition. The procedure is minimally invasive, is virtually painless and requires no down time.

Methods we use to treat

ThermoClear RF treatments are the #1 procedure for milia (whiteheads) and sebaceous hyperplasia. It is a simple, yet effective treatment on the face, neck and décolleté for: Milia (whiteheads), oil bumps (acne control), sebaceous hyperplasia, telangiectasia (spider veins), solar lentigines (sun spots/brown pigment), seborrheic keratosis, cherry hemangiomas, cholesterol deposits, skin tags.Using a very fine sterile needle we simply touch the epidermis of the affected area. The current is attracted to the water contained within the affected area essentially dehydrating the area and triggering the body to exfoliate the dried skin in a few days.

Products & Treatments we offer

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