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Milia are small, white cysts commonly seen around the cheeks. This image displays a milium, which has a "seed pearl"-like appearance. Milia commonly occur around the eye area, as displayed in this image.


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Milia are commonly found on the skin of people of all ages. They are formed when keratin (a substance produced by the skin) becomes entrapped beneath the outer layer of the skin, forming a tiny cyst. An individual milium (the singular of milia) is formed at the base of a hair follicle or sweat gland. Milia appear as 1–2 mm white-to-yellow, dome-shaped bumps that are not painful or itchy around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead in adults and infants. Although milia are found in the outer layers of skin, they are difficult to remove without the proper tools. Do not try to remove them at home, as you may leave a scar.

Primary or secondary milia in an adult may disappear on their own, but you may need them treated with one of the following:

  • Piercing each milium with a sterile lancet 
  • Using a Retinol cream such as Environ
  • A series of peels or microdermabrasion procedures

    Who's at risk?
    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.