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Milia - Causes and Treatment

What are Milia?

Milia (plural for milium) are small, white or yellow cysts that are caused by over keratinisation under the surface of the skin. Keratin is a tough protein that is abundant in finger and toe nails. Milia is common around eye, lips, nose and cheek areas of the face, but also can occur on the torso.

What causes Milia?

  • Burns
  • Long term sun exposure
  • Conditions causing blistering
  • Over exfoliation with treatments such as laser resurfacing and dermabrasion
  • Steroid cream use.
  • Ageing or skin conditions where cellular turnover of the epidermis is halted or slowed.
  • Skin care ingredients that create a barrier that can contribute to the creation of milia also include paraffin (oil or liquid) and petroleum (oil or liquid)


Common treatments to help remove milia include:

  • Chemical peels- AHA peels exfoliate by dissolving cellular bonds in the epidermis; this causes epidermal cells to flake off to show the fresh new skin below.
  • Extractions- Deroofing the lesion using a sterile probe and gently squeezing out the content.
  • Diathermy- Using direct current, an electrode tip has contact with the skin causing cellular/tissue dehydration of the area.

Prevention tips and recommended skin care products

Skin care products that can help reduce and prevent the development of milia include:

Recommendation Benefit Products available at Complete Skin & Beauty
Cleansers (free from soaps, sulphates and parabens) Gently cleansing the skin to help remove dirt, debris and excess oil. O Cosmedics Gentle Antioxidant Cleanser
Retinol Vitamin A improves cellular turnover in the epidermis and can prevent further milia from appearing and help refine existing lesions.

O Cosmedics Retinoic  Oil

O Cosmedics Potent Retinol Serum


For a more sensitive skin: Lactic acid. It is an AHA exfoliant that works on the top-middle layers of the epidermis. Dissolving cellular bonds in the epidermis, this causes epidermal cells to flake off.

For a stronger or oily skin type: Salicylic acid. It is a BHA that unclogs pores and can refine bumpy skin, including milia and blackheads.

O Cosmedics Corrective Cleanser & Peel

O Cosmedics Multi-functional Peel

O Cosmedics Pure C + BHA
SPF+ Using daily can reduce the UV and environmental damage that can stimulate the production of milia.

O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+

O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+ Tinted

To decrease the chances of causing milia, it is recommended to:

  • Use SPF daily and practice sun avoidance where possible.
  • Exfoliate the skin 1-3 times a week, depending on your product and skin health.
  • Avoid the use of very thick creams on the face, especially those containing certain silicones, paraffin or petroleum (such as Vaseline etc)

The skilled and passionate skin therapists at Complete Skin & Beauty are here to support you with your skin  journey, and share their knowledge and advice. Book in for a free skin consultation at your local salon.

Emily has been a beauty therapist for 5 years now and has been completing a Bachelor of Dermal Sciences over the last three years. This degree covers the skin in its entirety; including skin conditions, disorders, learning about related body systems such as lymphatics, and modalities related to skin such as Laser/IPL, RF (radio frequency skin tightening), Body Sculpting, Dermal Needling, Electrolysis and Chemical peels. She is a keen reader and loves documentaries, cuddling with her cat and her new hobby of gardening. 

Dermal Clinician
Complete Skin & Beauty Bendigo

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