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Definition Return to top
Milia are tiny white bumps or small cysts on the skin.
Causes Return to top
Milia occur when dead skin becomes trapped in small pockets at the surface of the skin or mouth. They are common in newborn infants.
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).
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor can usually diagnose milia just by examining the skin. No testing is necessary.
Treatment Return to top
In children, no treatment is needed.
A doctor may remove milia in adults who wish to improve their appearance.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
In children, milia usually disappear after the first several weeks of life without treatment and without any lasting effects.
In adults, milia removal can usually be done without scarring.
Possible Complications Return to top
There are usually no complications.
Prevention Return to top
There is no known prevention.
References Return to top
Morelli JG. Diseases of the neonate. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 646.Update Date: 6/2/2009 Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.