lady interested in milia removal


Learn more about milia. Discover how milk spots form, what they look like and the steps that you can take to remove them.


What are milia?

Milia, or milium (singular), are small, dome-shaped cysts that are either pearly-white or yellow in appearance. They typically appear on the face, especially the nose and cheeks, but they are also sometimes found on the torso and genitalia.

Milia spots are frequently mistaken for whiteheads due to their colour, and they are often referred to as milk spots, oil seeds and (inaccurately) baby acne. Whilst these milk spots are both harmless and painless, their appearance on one’s face can be rather annoying!

Milia are most common in newborn babies, but they can occur at any age. They do not tend to last for more than a month in babies; the lesions do not require treatment, as they naturally resolve themselves within the first four weeks. It does sometimes take a few months for milia to disappear in older children and adults, however, and this can prove frustrating.


What causes milia?

Milia are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. These categories are based on whether the milk spots occurred spontaneously or arose following an injury, burn or blistering.
baby with milia

2 Types Of Milia

Primary Milia

Primary milia appear in an area of the skin that has not suffered damage and injury, and they occur when the skin is unable to get rid of dead skin cells in the normal fashion.

When the body is unable to properly exfoliate or shed dead skin cells, those skin cells can become trapped in the outermost layers of the skin. This causes cysts that are filled with keratin, a protein that is found in skin cells, to form just under the surface of the skin.

Primary milia affect up to 50% of newborns; this is because babies’ skin often takes a few weeks to develop the ability to exfoliate dead skin cells. Once this period has passed, the milia will clear of its own accord.

lady smiling with milk spots on her face

2 Types Of Milia

Secondary Milia

Secondary milia is similar in appearance to primary milia, but it develops in a different fashion.

Secondary milia occur after the skin has suffered injury, i.e. a burn, blistering or an allergic reaction. Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, sleep deprivation and poor personal hygiene, can also play a part in their formation.

Milia starts to develop as the skin begins the process of healing. It is thought that obstruction of the sweat ducts is the underlying cause of secondary milia.


Milia Treatment & Milia Removal

Let’s explore how you can get rid of those stubborn milk spots lurking beneath the skin’s surface.

Let’s start by saying that attempting to pop or squeeze a milium is a non-starter. Milia bumps are simply too hard for this one to work, so try to resist the urge, as tempting as this might be.

Instead, give the following a try:

  1. Cleanse the affected area - use a mild cleanser that won’t strip your face of the oils that it needs in order to stay healthy
  2. Exfoliate once a week with a gentle exfoliating face scrub: this should help keep your skin free of milia-causing irritants and prevent overproduction of keratin in your skin
  3. Apply a facial peel - this will remove dirt from your pores and reduce excess sebum and oil, leaving your skin utterly mattified and radiant.
  4. Try opening your pores with steam. For this to work, all you need to do is go to your bathroom and turn on the shower, with the water at the hottest setting and at maximum flow. Immerse yourself in the steam for five to ten minutes; this will open the pores in your skin and release skin flakes that may be trapped under the topmost surface of your skin.


When it comes to dealing with milia under the eyes, you may find that you need to use eye creams that are specifically designed to increase the firmness of your skin and absorb properly.

This is because the eye area has limited blood circulation and, unlike the skin on the rest of your face, does not contain oil glands that help keep the skin hydrated.

eye cream helps milk spots

Professional Milia Removal

You may need to see a dermatologist if you find that your milia just isn’t going away.

Dermatologists can use tiny needles to manually remove your milk spots, and this will quickly heal the affected area. Resist the urge to extract milia in this way yourself, however, as you run the risk of infecting your skin and causing permanent scarring.