Milia are tiny bumps underneath the surface of the skin. They can be found on the skin of people of all ages, from newborns to adults. Any ethnicity and either gender can develop milia, though some people seem to have a greater tendency than others. Milia can be categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary milia are formed from entrapped keratin, whereas secondary milia form after something clogs the surfact of the skin. Secondary milia form in areas of trauma or healing, and they can be seen in people with underlying blistering conditions, following burns, following a blistering skin injury from an allergic reaction, following certain resurfacing procedures, as a result of long-term steroid creams, and as a result of chronic sun damage.
Primary milia can form anywhere, but the most common locations are around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead. Occasionally they can appear on the scalp as well. Secondary milia can form anywhere on the body that is affected by the underlying condition. Milia appear as small, 1-2 mm white or yellow dome-shaped bumps that look like tiny pearls just under the surface of the skin. They are neither painful nor itchy. They have no potential for cancer, but they are often bothersome to patients from a cosmetic standpoint.
Milia can be removed quite easily by your dermatologist. Frequent we will pierce the milium with a sterile lancet or blade and then remove the cyst-like material with a comedone extractor. Sometimes we will prescribe topical retinoid creams to help keep them from reforming. Occasionally peels or microdermabrasion may be recommended.