Milia Bumps on Eyelid – Causes, Treatments and Removal

What are Milia?

Milia may look similar to whiteheads (both characters are small bumps on the skin), but they are not the same. Milia are keratin-containing cysts that form beneath the skin surface due to trapped sweat, keratin or oil. More commonly found around the eyes, forehead, chin, nose and cheeks, they are very common in newborns, but can also be found in adults. Milia can appear due to problems with how the sweat glands on the skin work.

Milias are harmless and do not cause any side effects, most people simply choose to ignore them. Since they can appear due to a variety of reasons, it depends on the cause of your milia for treatment. People who wear heavy makeup can also develop milia. Sometimes, these can be small, white, or yellowish bumps. Other times, they can be clusters of small bumps. However, if your milia are painful and you don’t know what they are, it’s best you see a dermatologist.

Causes of Milia

There are a few different reasons why people get milia. The most common cause is genetics. If your mother has milia, it increases your chances of developing it. You’re also at risk if you have rosacea or eczema or a family member had it. The third common cause is sun exposure.

The occlusion of the skin due to wearing tight facemasks or heavy makeup can contribute to the formation of milia. The use of heavy-oil based skincare or makeup products can be another cause of milia. However, they can be just a cosmetic problem for some people. If you find them unsightly, you can have them removed.

Types of Milia

+ Neonatal: The form of milia which occurs in babies and also considered as primary milia. Typically, it will go away within few weeks.

+ Superficial: They are round, smooth, and white, and only a few mili-meter in diameter.

+ Deep: Milia are located in the dermis, the layer of skin directly below the epidermis. They can be round or oval, and white or yellow. Deep milia can also resemble cysts because they are solid, dome-shaped bumps.

+ Primary (Inflamed): Primary milia is a skin condition that occur when dead skin builds up in the pores of the skin. Mainly due to aging factor since the skin slowing down from exfoliating itself.

+ Secondary milia: Secondary milia are small white or yellow bumps that appear in an area due to infection or blister. These bumps are most commonly found on the cheeks, nose, and earlobes. This is a skin condition that is not harmful and will go away on its own.

+ Juvenile milia: Commonly formed at birth or few years old children. This type of milia related to certain syndrome disease.

+ Multiple eruptive milia: This term was given to recurrent milia that affect same area of face, arms and torso.

How to Get Rid of Milia

Milia can be unsightly, as it takes very little to get rid of them and they are almost never an indication of something more serious. It’s best to get rid of milia in the early stages before they have time to spread to other areas of your skin. Regular exfoliation, 2 to 3 times a week needed to get rid of dead skin cells and leave the pores unclog from impurities, and this help banishes milia seeds from forming. Identify your skin type before buying any exfoliation product since different skin type needs different type of exfoliator.

The best method of removing milia is by using a tool called a derma-roller. This tool is a small roller that contains hundreds of tiny needles that penetrate the skin. After the skin heals, the milia will fall off, leaving the area unharmed. There are other common methods of removing milia including use of chemical peels and dermabrasion. Retinol (type of vitamin A), can prevent the build-up of dead cells. It also can assist skin cell turn over and preventing milia formation.

Milia commonly formed around eye areas and you need special eye cream for this part of face. Unlike other skin part, eye area does not have much sebaceous gland and it is really thin. When skincare does not penetrate properly at this area, primary milia can manifest. By using specific eye cream, you can help increase firmness of this part and improve skin barrier for better absorbance of other skincare products. Use broad-spectrum protection with SPF to protect your skin from excessive exposure to UV ray.


+ Dermabrasion
Dermabrasion involves sanding away the top layer of skin to remove milia and stimulate the formation of new skin.

+ Chemical peel
A chemical peel containing AHAs and BHAs such as Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid can be used to exfoliate skin and remove the upper layers of skin containing dead skin and oil.

Best Splurge to Remove Milia

+ Medik R-Retinoate Day & Night Eye Serum, $118

+ Sunday Riley Good Genes, $111

+ Kateceuticals Resurfacing Overnight Peel, $99

+ Radiance Recharge System, 10 x 1ml, $202

+ Dr Levy Switzerland, Radical3 Reboot Pro Peel, $116

+ Sunday Riley LUNA Sleeping Night Oil, $111

+ Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, $98

+ Soleil Superieur SPF50 Sunscreen UVB/UVA PA++++, $124

+ Dr Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF50, $144

+ Institut Esthederm Paris – Intensive Retinol Oil Serum, $68

+ Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum, $90

Prevention from Milia

To prevent milia, avoid using products that can clog your pores. These include creams, moisturizers, or oils that clog pores and can cause pores to swell or become infected. Don’t pop those milia as it is not poppable. You might leave a scar if you force it to pop. If milia does not bother you, best to leave it alone as it will go away after some times.

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