Milia: What You Need to Know About the Tiny White Bumps on Your Face

January 10, 2022
Margaret Fisher
By: Margaret Fisher | by L'Oréal
Milia: What You Need to Know About the Tiny White Bumps on Your Face

If you’re experiencing small white bumps under your skin, you may think it’s acne — but there’s a big chance that they’re actually milia. Due to their small size and white color, milia are often mistaken for whiteheads, but despite the similarities in appearance, milia aren’t a form of acne. That's why your handy spot treatment probably isn’t helping minimize the bumps. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly milia are and how to effectively get rid of them.

What Are Milia?

According to Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, board-certified dermatologist in Miami and consultant, milia are a buildup of keratin underneath the skin that result in the appearance of tiny, white bumps. “Milia develop when tiny skin flakes become trapped in small pockets near the surface of the skin,” she explains. Most often, milia forms under the eyes and around the nose or cheeks, but they can appear anywhere. 

How Do I Get Rid of Milia? 

Milia typically disappear on their own within a matter of weeks or months, but sometimes need professional attention to remedy. Whatever you do, don’t try to pop the bumps as that can cause redness and irritation. Instead, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd recommends scheduling an appointment with your dermatologist to address milia. “Unlike pimples, milia don’t have a natural opening to expel their contents, so a sterile needle is used to form a small opening and then the contents are removed,” she says. “With this treatment, they can typically heal without any scarring.”

Can You Remove Milia at Home?

To help prevent these bumps from forming, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says that incorporating exfoliation into your skincare routine is essential. Because we’re in the midst of winter, try using exfoliating products that also help to restore the skin’s moisture barrier, like the SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator. This gentle exfoliant combines a patented exfoliating acid complex with hyaluronic acid to slough away dead skin cells while replenishing the skin’s moisture levels. 


Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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