Milia are tiny white bumps or small cysts on the skin.
Milia occur when dead skin becomes trapped in small pockets at the surface of the skin or mouth. They are common in newborn infants and appear as pearly white bumps, most commonly across the upper cheeks, nose, and chin. Milia generally disappear after the first several weeks of life.
Similar cysts are seen in the mouths of newborn infants. In this case, they are called Epstein's pearls. These cysts also go away on their own.
Adults may develop milia on the face. The bumps and cysts also occur on parts of the body that are inflammed or injured. Irritation of the skin by rough sheets or clothing may cause mild reddening around the bump, but the central portion remains white.
Irritated milia are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "baby acne" (although it is not actually a form of acne).
- Whitish, pearly bump in the skin of newborns, typically across cheeks, nose, and chin
- Whitish, pearly bump on gums or roof of mouth
Signs and tests
The doctor can usually diagnose milia just by examining the skin. No testing is necessary.
In children, no treatment is needed.
A doctor may remove milia in adults who wish to improve their appearance.
In children, milia usually disappear without treatment and without any lasting effects.
In adults, milia removal can usually be done without scarring.
There are usually no complications.
Calling your health care provider
There is no known prevention.
Review Date: 4/12/2007
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.