How to Get Rid of Milia: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Do you have small white bumps on your nose, chin, or cheeks? Some people refer to these bumps as “oil seeds” or “milk spots.” However, these cysts are known as milia and can affect anyone from newborn babies to adults. 

If you have milia, know that it is treatable. In this guide, we’ll go over what causes milia, how to treat it, and ways to prevent milia. Keep reading to learn more. 

What Causes Milia? 

Milia is caused by skin flakes or keratin that gets trapped under the surface of the skin. Keratin is a protein that’s found in skin tissues, nail cells, and hair. When this protein gets stuck under the skin, milia appears. 

How to Treat Milia 

Milia in newborns usually resolves on its own without treatment. This isn’t the case with adults. There are ways to treat milia, which we’ll cover below: 

1. Don’t Touch the Affected Area 

The best thing you can do is avoid touching the affected areas. This is easier said than done because milia can cause itchiness or irritate the skin. Scratching or trying to remove the bumps leads to bleeding and scarring. Scraping off the bumps also leaves skin prone to germs. If these open wounds get infected, you’re looking at a whole other problem. 

2. Clean Your Skin 

You need to cleanse your skin every day with a gentle soap that’s paraben-free. Pat skin dry (don’t let it air dry). Drying it with a face cloth will help prevent it from drying out.

3. Steam Open Pores 

Steaming open pores is a great way to remove further irritants. You want to do this after cleansing your face. Don’t have a facial steamer? Follow these 4 steps: 

  1. Sit in your bathroom and let the show run on hot. This will fill your room with steam. 
  2. Sit in the steam for 8-10 minutes. 
  3. Turn off the shower and wait a few minutes.
  4. Pat face dry and rinse with lukewarm water to wash away any irritants.

4. Exfoliate the Affected Area

Look for an exfoliating cleanser that contains salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or citric acid. A gentle skin exfoliation will further eliminate irritants that cause milia. Only exfoliate skin ONCE a week. Exfoliation more often will irritate your skin. 

5. Consider a Facial Peel 

You want to be careful when considering using a facial peel. These peels contain exfoliating elements that may help your milia. However, if you use one that’s too strong for your skin, it will only cause more milia to appear. 

If skin peels are a part of your skincare routine, it’s safe to continue using them. If possible, stick to peels that have glycolic acid or salicylic acid. 

If in doubt, speak with a dermatologist or skincare expert or skip facial peels completely. 

6. Use a Retinoid Cream 

Retinoid creams contain vitamin A – essential to the health of your skin. Use retinoid cream once per day after you’ve cleansed and dried your face. Following the retinoid cream, apply some sunscreen as sun exposure can make your skin condition worse. 

7. Opt for a Light Facial Sunscreen

You should wear sunscreen regularly whether you have milia or not. This will protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Using the right sunscreen for your skin will also lessen the effects of milia. 

When shopping for sunscreen, be sure you go with one specifically for the face. It must contain 30 SPF or higher. If your skin is extremely sensitive when it comes to the sun, use a product with 100 SPF. 

Before using any product on your skin, read the label to ensure it doesn’t contain anything you may be allergic to. 

8. See a Dermatologist

If there is no sign of your milia bumps going anywhere after a few weeks, see your dermatologist for a milia removal. Sometimes your dermatologist will manually remove the milia using a tiny needle. This quickly heals the affected area. 

Milia Prevention 

It’s not always possible to prevent milia. For instance, some newborns are born with it. However, you can prevent it in adults by avoiding too much exposure to the sun. There are ways to tan your face that don’t involve using the rays of the sun. Exfoliating skin 2-3 times a week and avoiding the use of oil-based products are some other ways to prevent milia.


If you have milia, have peace of mind knowing there are ways to treat it. When all else fails, see your dermatologist. They will use tiny needs to manually remove these small white bumps.

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