Milialar: Causes, Removal and Prevention

Milialar: Causes, Removal and Prevention

Sep 18, 2023

As a longtime sufferer of Milialar cysts around my eyes and on the T-zone of my face, I have spent countless hours researching, consulting with dermatologists, and trying various treatments to manage these benign yet annoying bumps on my skin. After years of trial and error, I’ve finally gotten a good handle on understanding, preventing, and removing milialar. In this essay, I’ll provide a comprehensive overview of these tiny cystswhat they are, what causes them, who is most susceptible, and most importantly, how to safely remove or prevent them.

What Are Milialar?

What Are Milialar?

Milialar are small, pearly white or yellowish bumps that form under the top layer of skin. Ranging from 1 to 4 mm, they contain keratin, a protein found in skin, nails, and hair. While milialar can occur anywhere on the body, they appear on facial areas with many oil glands, like the cheeks, nose, around the eyes, and forehead. In my late twenties, I first noticed mine around my eyes and have battled them repeatedly.

Despite unsightly and frustrating, milialar are harmless benign cysts not associated with severe underlying health conditions. They may, however, point to other skin care issues like excessive sun exposure or the use of heavy cosmetics that clog pores.

What Causes Milialar?

What Causes Milialar?

Milialar forms when keratin becomes trapped beneath the skin’s surface and blocks the opening of hair follicles or oil glands. The trapped keratin stimulates the skin to produce a cyst around it to isolate the entrapped material. There are a few primary causes:

  • Excess sun exposure – UV rays damage collagen fibres that normally slough off dead skin cells. This allows a buildup of keratin that may lead to milialar.
  • Heavy cosmetics – Lotions, creams, and makeup that are thick or comedogenic (pore-clogging) can cause milialar by preventing proper exfoliation.
  • Genetics – Some people are prone to developing milialar due to hereditary factors. I fall into this category and have struggled with them much more than friends and family.
  • Skin trauma – Injury to the skin from burns, rashes, extreme acne, or other trauma can also instigate milialar cysts.
  • Hormonal changes – Fluctuating hormones during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can increase oil production and keratin, leading to clogged pores.
  • Chronic skin conditions: Eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis cause inflammation and scales that may give rise to milialar.
  • Medications – Certain steroid creams can thin the skin and contribute to cyst formation.
  • Ageing – Cell turnover slows, skin loses elasticity, and dead skin cells build up, increasing the risk for milialar.

Who Gets Milialar?

While people of all ages can get military, they are most common in:

  • Newborns – Called neonatal milialar, these bumps occur in up to 50% of babies but usually disappear within a few weeks.
  • Middle-aged adults – Like me, those in their 30s-50s tend to get milialar as collagen production declines and skin loses elasticity. The T-zone is the most susceptible.
  • People with oily skin types – Excess sebum (oil) production can contribute to pore blockages, leading to trapped keratin and cysts.
  • Those using steroid creams on the face – The skin thinning effects may cause milialar.
  • For people with chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis – Inflammation promotes milialar.
  • Menopausal women – Hormonal shifts and ageing increase the risk for cysts.

Though harmless, milialar can be embarrassing and frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways to treat and remove them safely.

How to Remove or Treat Milialar

How to Remove or Treat Milialar

While milialar sometimes disappears independently, there are safe and effective treatments from dermatologists. I’ve found it’s best not to try squeezing or popping them as that often makes them worse or leaves a scar! Here are the most common milialar removal methods:

  • Laser treatment – Using a focused beam of light, lasers can precisely target and vaporize the cysts without damaging the top layer of skin. I’ve had good results with laser therapy.
  • Electrodesiccation – A dermatologist uses a sterile needle to puncture the cyst and apply gentle heat to dry out and extract the trapped contents. Local anaesthesia is often used.
  • Microdermabrasion – This polishes the top layer of skin with tiny crystals to improve texture and appearance. It can help speed up the skin’s natural shedding to unclog pores.
  • Chemical peels – Light chemical exfoliation peels away the epidermis to reveal newer skin and open pores. This can be an effective way to eliminate military.
  • Prescription retinoid creams – Retinoids like tretinoin help promote skin cell turnover and may loosen the cysts. But retinoids can initially cause irritation, sun sensitivity, and increased milialar before improving skin.
  • Cryotherapy – Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy the cysts. This leaves minimal scarring but can be uncomfortable.
  • Incision and drainage – A dermatologist numbs the area, makes a small cut, and extracts the contents. The cyst sac is also removed to prevent recurrence.

For small, uncomplicated milialar, dermatologists can extract them using a sterile needle under local anaesthesia. You can use OTC creams with glycolic or salicylic acid at home to gently exfoliate the skin’s top layer. Just be patient, as home treatments take longer. Avoid trying to pop them yourself.

Preventing MilialarfPreventing Milialar

While milialar can’t always be prevented completely, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing new ones:

  • Use oil-free, non-comedogenic makeup and lotions. Avoid thick, greasy products that clog pores.
  • Wash your face twice daily and exfoliate regularly to remove excess oil and slough off dead skin. This helps unclog pores and follicles.
  • Limit sun exposure and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen. The sun’s UV rays break down collagen and dry out the skin.
  • Remove makeup thoroughly before bedtime. Never sleep in cosmetics, as this leads to pore blockages.
  • Consider using a retinoid cream to increase cell turnover, but start slowly as they can irritate first.
  • Hydrate skin well with a light, oil-free moisturizer. Dehydrated skin is more prone to milialar.
  • If you’re prone to milialar, get periodic skin treatments like microdermabrasion or light chemical peels to open congested pores.
  • Avoid heavy, comedogenic skincare and cosmetic products that clog pores. Stick to oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas.
  • For hormonal milialar, speak to your doctor about options like birth control pills or spironolactone to regulate hormones.
  • Treat any underlying skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis to reduce inflammation that can cause milialar.
  • Be gentle when cleansing, toning, or exfoliating delicate areas around the eyes where milialar often occur.

By taking these preventive skin care steps and seeing a dermatologist to remove stubborn cysts, you can keep milialar under control for more precise, glowing skin. While sometimes a frustrating skin condition, the military can be managed consistently. Don’t give up hope!


Milialar are often tiny cysts that develop when keratin becomes caught under the skin, resulting in lumps. They may be harmless, but they can also be embarrassing. Miliaria can appear anywhere on the body; however, it most frequently occurs around the eyes and T-zone. Most people can lower their chance of getting milia by thoroughly grasping what causes them, who is at risk and adhering to preventative skin care practices. Using prescription lotions, professional treatments like microdermabrasion, or at-home exfoliating consistently can help eradicate cysts safely. Miliaria may be annoying and persistent, but with the appropriate information and care, they may be controlled for clear, healthy-looking skin. If you frequently have these lumps, don’t give up hope; consult a dermatologist to determine the best action for your needs and skin type.


Are Miliary Diseases Contagious?

  • A: Miliary cysts are not contagious and cannot transmit from one person to another. They develop as a result of keratin becoming trapped under the skin.

Do I need to pop my Milialar?

  • A: Trying to pop miliary at home is not advised. This could result in infection or scarring and aggravate the cysts. Instead, seek professional help.

Can kids become similar?

  • A: Milialar are prevalent in infants and can also happen in kids. Neonatal milia tend to disappear by themselves. If they continue as a child gets older, seek help.

Do millennials disappear on their own?

  • A: Miliar occasionally goes away independently after a few weeks or months. However, if not given expert care, many continue or return. For obstinate cysts, a dermatologist should be consulted.

What type of makeup should you wear if you are prone to milia?

  • A: People prone to milia should use moisturizers without clogging pores and oil-free and non-comedogenic makeup. Makeup made of mineral powder is a fantastic choice.

How can I use cosmetics to hide something familiar?

  • A green-tinted primer or colour correction pencil can reduce cystic erythema before concealer and foundation are applied for natural coverage.

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