How To Get Rid Of Milia At Home & Prevention Tips

Learn about the ingredients you can use to effectively deal with these tiny bumps.

Medically reviewed by Dr. CP Thajudheen, MD Dr. CP Thajudheen Dr. CP ThajudheenMD facebook_icontwitter_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc Experience: 3 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) Experience: 3 years
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Milia appears as tiny white or yellowish-white papulesi  Pimple-like bumps on the skin without pus mainly found in men caused due to razor cuts, goosebumps, or insect bite. on the cheeks, nose or other parts of the skin although commonly seen in infants, milia can develop in teenagers and adults as well. Mostly attributed to the buildup of oil in your skin, milia can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. The good news is there are several treatment options you can try to get rid of milia and prevent them from developing further. To know more, scroll down to read the article.

What Is A Milium Cyst?

A milium cyst is a small white or yellow bump that appears on the nose and cheeks. When these cysts occur in groups, they are called milia. Milia are often found on the face, around your eyes, eyelids, lips, and cheeks. However, they may sometimes also occur on other body parts, such as the torso or genitalia. Milia develop when tiny skin flakes become trapped in small pockets near the surface of the skin.

The causes of milia differ among adults and infants and are as follows.

What Causes Milia?

The cause of milia in a newborn is unknown. It is often mistaken for baby acne, which is triggered by hormones from the mother or an epidermal cyst. However, milia do not cause inflammation or swelling like acne, and most of the time, infants are born with it.

In adults as well as older children, milia occur as a result of damage to your skin. This can include:

  • Blistering due to skin conditions like epidermolysis bullosai  A group of rare genetic skin disorders that causes the skin to become weak and blistered, either on or inside the body, due to injuries caused by scratching or the heat. (EB), cicatricial pemphigoidi  A rare chronic autoimmune blistering disorder that causes scarring and affects either the skin or mucous membranes or both. , or porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT)
  • Blistering due to allergic reactions, such as a poison ivy allergy
  • Burns
  • Long-term exposure to the sun
  • Long-term use of steroid creams
  • Skin-resurfacing procedures like dermabrasioni  A kind of surgical procedure of skin that removes the outer skin layer to allow smooth skin to regrow. and laser resurfacing
  • Aging skin

Milia can be classified into different types, depending on the age at which the cysts occur and the cause.

What Are The Types Of Milia?

Milia are classified into primary and secondary categories. While primary milia are formed because of entrapped keratin and are found on the faces of infants and adults, secondary milia are formed when the ducts leading to the skin’s surface get clogged.

Milia are further divided into the following types:

  • Neonatal Milia: These are primary milia. They occur in newborns and clear up within a few weeks.
  • Juvenile Milia: Some rare genetic disorders can cause juvenile milia. They are:
  1. Gardner’s syndrome, which may lead to colon cancer later on
  2. Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (NBCCS)
  3. Bazex-Dupré-Christol syndrome affects hair growth and the ability to sweat
  4. Pachyonychia congenita, a condition that causes thick or abnormally shaped nails
  • Milia En Plaque: This type affects the eyelids, ears, cheeks, and jaw. It is often associated with genetic or autoimmune disorders like discoid lupusi  A chronic autoimmune disease causing a severe rash on the skin accompanied by inflammation and scarring. or lichen planusi  An inflammatory skin condition causing swelling and irritation in mucous membranes, skin, nails and hair. .
  • Multiple Eruptive Milia: These cause itching and most often occur on the face, upper arms, and torso.
  • Traumatic Milia: The milia cysts occur as a result of skin injuries. The resultant cysts may be red along the rim and white in the center.
  • Milia is associated with drugs and other products

Milia can also be caused by exposure to certain drugs and makeup products like:

  • Liquid paraffin or petroleum
  • Paraffin oil
  • Paraffinum liquidumi  Also known as liquid paraffin, it is a clear, liquid mineral oil used in medicines and cosmetics for its moisture-retaining property.
  • Petrolatumi  A thick, greasy substance made from petroleum and used as a moisturizing agent on dry skin and to heal burns and scrapes. liquid
  • Petroleum oil
  • Lanolini  A waxy substance extracted from wool-bearing animals used as a moisturizing agent for the prevention or treatment of dry and rough skin.

Milia hint at skin damage but how much of a threat are they? Let’s find out in the section below.

Are Milia Dangerous?

Milia are typically benign cysts in the epidermis. They are common in newborns but temporary and usually resolve by themselves without requiring any treatment. However, they may also appear in adults and can be persistent, which can have a similar psychosocial impact as acne lesions (1).

However, secondary milia may be a cause for concern as they often follow burns, rashes, or blisters. They are generally associated with other skin conditions such as epidermolysis bullosa and similar blistering skin diseases, hinting at skin trauma, side effects from medication, or other underlying conditions (2).

Therefore, it is important to get milia checked by a dermatologist if it seems persistent. Keep reading to learn about its diagnosis and treatments.

How Are Milia Diagnosed?

Milia are usually diagnosed by a physical examination that analyzes the appearance of your cysts. In some rare cases, a skin lesion biopsy may be required to rule out other possibilities.

Milia can hinder your confidence and also put you at the risk of developing scars. Dermatologists manage these lesions by doing extraction. And here are some natural remedies that are effective for milia removal at home.

How To Get Rid Of Milia At Home

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. Castor Oil
  3. Tea Tree Oil
  4. Vitamin A
  5. Coconut Oil
  6. Sugar Scrub
  7. Lemon Juice
  8. Toothpaste
  9. Honey Mask
  10. Rose Water
  11. Steam

Home Remedies To Treat Milia

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a tablespoon of water.
  2. Mix well and dip a cotton ball in it.
  3. Apply all over the affected area and wash off after 30 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this daily for a few weeks.

Why This Works

Apple cider vinegar is astringent and can help in reducing the size of the skin pores. This forces the debris out of your pores and helps you with milia removal.

2. Castor Oil

Castor oil to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

½ teaspoon of cold-pressed castor oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Clean the affected area with a mild cleanser.
  2. Take half a teaspoon of cold-pressed castor oil and apply it to the milia.
  3. Leave it on for 30 to 60 minutes before rinsing off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

Castor oil has emollienti  The tendency of substances or ingredients used in skin care products that soften and hydrate the skin by trapping moisture in the skin. and anti-inflammatory properties, which help combat milia (4).

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix six drops each of tea tree and coconut oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to the cleansed and affected areas.
  3. Allow it to work for about 30 minutes before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily for faster results.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil helps in drying the milia lesions faster, thereby speeding up the healing process. This essential oil also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent further infection in the affected area (5).

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

700-900 mcg vitamin A

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume 700 to 900 mcg vitamin A daily.
  2. You can consume foods like carrots, almonds, and avocados, which are rich in the vitamin.
  3. You can also take vitamin A supplements after consulting a doctor.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this daily.

Why This Works

Vitamin A can vastly improve your skin’s turnover by helping in its rejuvenation (6). It can also be applied topically in the form of retinol for treating milia (7).

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

Cold-pressed coconut oil (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a little cold-pressed coconut oil in your palms and apply it to the affected skin.
  2. Leave it on for about 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Rinse off with water and a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily for a week or two.

Why This Works

Given the anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties of coconut oil, it is no surprise that it works amazingly well in treating milia lesions (8). It keeps your skin moisturized and reduces inflammation in the affected area (9).

6. Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrub to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  1. 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  2. ½ lemon
  3. 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix two tablespoons of sugar with the juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Use this mixture to scrub the affected skin gently.
  3. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then rinse it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 3 to 4 times a week.

Why This Works

The sugar scrub helps in exfoliating your skin. And regular exfoliation helps you get rid of the stubborn milia cyst and clear skin blemishes.

Ysobel, a beauty blogger, found exfoliation to be an easy and effective solution to get rid of milia. On her blog, she writes, “After I noticed these bumps over my eyelids, I began to exfoliate like crazy. Removing the skin on top of the milia surface will help your milia pop right out of your skin (i).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can choose brown sugar or pure cane sugar (unrefined white sugar) to see what works best for your skin type.

7. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • ½ lemon
  • A pinch of salt (optional)
What You Have To Do
  1. Cut a lemon into half and rub one half directly on the affected area.
  2. Alternatively, you can also extract the juice from half a lemon, add a pinch of salt to it, and apply this mixture to the milia-prone areas of your skin.
  3. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes and rinse off.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

Lemon juice acts as a natural astringent that helps in pore unclogging, cleansing, and reducing their size (10). This action of lemon juice, combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, can help in drying up milia and clearing them quickly (11).

8. Toothpaste

Toothpaste to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

Toothpaste (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Spread an even layer of toothpaste on the affected skin.
  2. Leave it on overnight.
  3. Rinse off with cold water.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this thrice a week.

Why This Works

Toothpaste contains fluoride and sodium bicarbonate, which help in drying up acne lesions faster with their anti-inflammatory properties (12). These properties also help in drying up milia cysts and getting rid of them.

9. Honey Mask

Honey mask to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

½ tablespoon of manuka honey

What You Have To Do
  1. Take half a tablespoon of manuka honey on your fingers.
  2. Apply an even layer to the affected areas.
  3. Let it work for 20 to 30 minutes before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this once daily for a few weeks.

Why This Works

Manuka honey exhibits anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. This can help in treating the milia lesions and can protect them from further microbial infections (13).

10. Sandalwood And Rose Water

Sandalwood and rose water to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of sandalwood powder
  • Rosewater (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. To a tablespoon of sandalwood powder, add enough rose water to make a thick paste.
  2. Apply this mixture evenly to the affected skin.
  3. Leave it on for around 30 minutes.
  4. Wash the mixture off your skin with cold water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily for about 2 weeks to see results.

Why This Works

A mixture of sandalwood and rosewater can help remove the dead skin cells, thereby rejuvenating your skin and reducing milia (14).

11. Steam

Steam to get rid of milia
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • Hot water
  • Towel
What You Have To Do
  1. Fill some hot water in a large bowl.
  2. Bend over this bowl and cover your head with a clean towel so that the steam doesn’t escape.
  3. Allow the steam to work on the affected areas for no more than 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. You may follow up with a facial scrub.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

Facial sauna or facial steaming helps open your skin pores and brings out all the dead skin cells and debris to the surface of your skin. This makes the removal of milia easier (15). It also helps with whitehead removal.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Remove any makeup off your face for optimum results. Additionally, use a moisturizer after the steaming session to keep your skin hydrated for a longer period.

You must also follow some tips in addition to the above remedies to get rid of milia once and for all.

Prevention Tips

  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun.
  • Avoid using thick creams and oil-based products.
  • Exfoliate 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Clean the affected area daily.
  • Steam to open the skin pores.
  • Use a sunscreen daily.
  • Avoid pricking, poking, or trying to remove the milia with your fingers.
  • Follow a healthy diet that consists of foods that are best for treating milia, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and vitamin A-rich foods.
  • Avoid foods that are sugary, fried, spicy, caffeinated, and salty.

Infographic: 5 Easy Home Remedies To Treat Milia

Facial milia can develop in teenagers and adults and is primarily due to the buildup of oil and often occurs around the eyelids, lips, and cheeks. To get rid of milia, follow the home remedies given in the article and tips to prevent it. Still, some remedies might be challenging to accomplish, so to know about the easiest home remedies to treat milia, check out the infographic given below.

easy home remedies to treat milia (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Certain home remedies work effectively to get rid of milia. The condition is primarily triggered by oil build-up and may also indicate an underlying medical condition. Doing a facial cleansing using apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, castor oil, lemon juice, toothpaste, coconut oil, honey mask, and rose water can effectively combat milia. Including foods rich in Vitamin A and steam also helps effectively manage milia. In addition to these, you can prevent milia by avoiding thick creams and oil-based products, reducing sun exposure, exfoliating regularly, using sunscreen, and consuming a balanced diet. Milia extraction can also be performed through noninvasive methods such as microdermabrasion, laser treatments or chemical peels.

Frequently Asked Questions

When to see your dermatologist for milia?

Most milia start fading on their own as the surface of the skin starts wearing off. However, in some cases, this doesn’t happen, and they may remain for a long time. In this case, you might have to visit a doctor for milia treatment.

How long do milia last on a baby?

Milia is a common skin condition in newborns, and it can last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks.

What is the difference between milia and whiteheads?

Whiteheads are closed comedones and a type of acne. They occur when too much sebum, dead skin cells, and debris clog your skin pores. On the other hand, milia occur when there is a keratin buildup and it gets trapped at the base of the follicles, forming tiny and painless bumps.

Can milia be permanent?

Milia in children usually clear up within days or weeks. However, primary milia in adults may persist for months or years. But they eventually go away on their own.

What deficiency causes milia on the face?

Milia may be caused due to lipid deficiency in cells. This results in the formation of crystallized lipids (that show up as milia) instead of smooth lipids. Foods rich in healthy fatty acids may be able to counter this deficiency.

Is Vaseline good for milia?

No, Vaseline is not good for milia as it can clog the pores and exacerbate a milia breakout.

Key Takeaways

  • Milia are small white skin growths that typically cluster around the chin, cheeks, and nose.
  • They can be caused by certain skin conditions, allergic responses, burns, or prolonged sun exposure.
  • They are diagnosed by a skin examination or, in some rare cases, a skin lesion biopsy.
  • Dermatologists get rid of these lesions with an extraction process. But coconut oil, lemon juice, steam, or rose water are a few natural remedies that could be helpful.
get rid of milia

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Bid farewell to milia with safe and scar-free methods you can try at home! Watch this informative video and learn easy techniques to get rid of milia for a smoother complexion.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986265/
  2. Segmental infantile hemangioma with milia: A case report
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10108420/
  3. The Apple Cider Vinegar Cleanse: Lose Weight, Improve Gut Health, Fight
  4. Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1781768/
  5. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/
  6. What is vitamin A and why do we need it?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936685/
  7. Vitamin A in skin and serum–studies of acne vulgaris atopic dermatitis ichthyosis vulgaris and lichen planus
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2933053/
  8. Anti-inflammatory analgesic and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20645831/
  9. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15724344/
  10. Lemon Health Benefits: Lemons for Healthy Skin Hair Cleaning and Weight Loss
    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=QZQ9CQAAQBAJ&&pg=PT11&&dq=lemon+juice+for+skin
  11. Anti-inflammatory effect of lemon mucilage: in vivo and in vitro studies
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16435583/
  12. Why There’s Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste: The Chemistry of Household
    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=B1HlNnM_ttYC&&pg=PA164&&dq=toothpaste+for+acne
  13. Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer So Alternative
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837971/
  14. Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom
    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=uRLiDQAAQBAJ&&pg=PT182&&dq=rose+water+and+sandalwood+for+skin
  15. Professional Beauty Therapy: Australia and New Zealand Edition with Onli Ne
    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=xENMDwAAQBAJ&&pg=PA520&&dq=steam+for+milia
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Dr. CP Thajudheen has over 20 years of experience in various lasers, light-based devices, and other advanced equipment. He was one of the beginners who introduced cutaneous lasers in India. He carries out dermato surgeries regularly, including hair grafting and vitiligo surgeries. He runs multiple laser centers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and has trained many doctors in lasers and...read full bio

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