You might know them as the “zit that won’t pop,” or the pesky white bumps under your eyes that never seem to go away. Milia are tiny white bumps commonly appearing around the eyes or nose. They can appear at any age but are often seen on infants. They form in response to sun damage, trauma and use of heavy occlusive moisturizers—and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Contrary to popular belief, they are not calcium deposits and are actually composed primarily of skin cell material.
Milia that appear during infancy tend to go away within a few months, but milia in adults is chronic and rarely disappears without treatment. The first step in treating milia is to discard any heavy products that may be causing the problem.
Milia can only be removed by trained professionals. Don’t even think about trying to pluck or pop them off yourself, as this can cause scarring. To remove a milium, a dermatologist will use a small needle or blade to extract the tiny cyst, which looks like a pearl of thick oil. They can also be treated using microdermabrasion and superficial peels.