Milia and How To Remove Them

How To Remove Milia

Do you have little bumps on the face that are not pimples that you want to remove yourself?

Or do you have a pimple with a hard white ball inside?

These hard bumps that won't pop may be milia.

Milia are skin colored bumps or white dots on the face, jawline, under the eye, or on the eyelid.

They have been described as " a pimple with a hard white seed".

These pimple-like bumps won't go away on their own.

The fastest way to treat them is to remove milia is with extraction. They are so difficult to remove that most people pick at them and push them deeper into the skin when they try to extract them at home.

When left alone, these small bumps do not usually leave a scar.

However, it is common for them to scar and leave a deep hole in the skin when extracted incorrectly or when picked or poked.

So - do not try to remove them yourself with a milia removal tool such as a needle or comedone extractor.

How to remove milia myself?

Its hard to extract your own milia. Your best option is to use a retinoid and let them come to the surface.

If you are impatient, and want to remove the milia now, see a dermatologist or a skin specialist.

If you insist on removing them yourself, this is how you remove milia:

  1. get a sterile a 27 gauge needle
  2. Take a hot shower
  3. Cleanse face and hands with an antibacterial or foaming cleanser
  4. Pat skin dry
  5. While skin is still warn get your magnifying mirror
  6. Carefully make a tiny incision in the middle of the whitest part of the milia.
  7. Apply gentle circumferential pressure around the milia
  8. If it does not come out in 30 seconds, poke the middle gently one time with the needle placed perpendicularly to the skin
  9. apply pressure around the outside of the milia.
  10. If it does not come out in 30 seconds wait a day and try again.
  11. Cover with a retinoid to help bring closer to the surface

If you push too long and with too much pressure, you can drive the milia contents deeper and cause a cyst. So do not force it.

It is better to give up and wait a day.

Remember to sterilize your needle or use a new one when trying again.

Consider getting on a skin care routine that is right for your Baumann Skin type so that you are less likely to develop milia.

Pores clogged with hard sebum

When your pores have a hard white substance in them that is difficult to remove- this is called a milia.

The best way to unclog pores with this hard sebum without causing a scar is with retinoids or hydroxyacids.


I popped a pimple and something hard came out

This was a milia. The hard stuff is a clump of dead skin cells packed with the protein keratin.

How to prevent getting these pimples with a hard white core?

Pimples with a hard white seed are milia.

You can prevent them with these 4 steps:

Wash your face twice a day

Try a salicylic acid cleanser if you have oily skin

Use a alpha hydroxy acid cleanser if you have dry skin

Use the right skin care for your Baumann Skin Type

Milia Causes

The wrong skin care products for your skin type cause milia by interfering with the skin's exfoliation process.

Ingredients that are comedogenic can also cause milia.

Not washing your face at night can cause milia because these can clog pores when not washed off:


Dead skin cells


Silicones like dimethicone

Face primers


using the wrong skin care products

Make sure you are using the right products for your skin type. We can show you what brands and skin care products are the best to prevent and treat milia.

Using the correct skin care for your Baumann Skin Type is the best way to prevent milia.

Milia in Adults 

I am a dermatologist and I will explain:

what are these whiteheads under the skin that won't go away

how to remove these bumps

who can remove milia

I will also give advice and dermatologist tips on the best skin care to prevent and treat milia.

Who Can Remove Milia?

Milia on the face or body should be removed by a dermatologist. Ophthalmologists, a type of eye doctor, can remove milia on the the eyelid.

This blog will focus on how to treat milia in adults. If your baby or child has milia- see your pediatrician.

There are many things on the skin that can look like milia including:


Molluscum contagiosum

Skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma)

Hair follicle tumors

Whiteheads (also called closed comedones or clogged pores)



I suggest you see a dermatologist the first time you get a milia so you can make sure that your self diagnosis is correct. If the lesion is on your eyelid, see an ophthalmologist (not an optometrist).

Milia are deeper than closed comedones (whiteheads) and if not extracted can take months to go away on their own.

Can Aestheticians / estheticians remove milia?

Estheticians can remove closed comedones but should not remove milia unless they are medical aestheticians working under a physician.

These treatments commonly performed by estheticians will not remove milia quickly but can help them go away over time:

Chemical Peel






Deep milia should only be removed by trained estheticians because:

It requires use of a scalpel to cut into the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis)

Cutting the skin to the dermis can cause scarring if not done properly

Estheticians are not licensed to cut into the dermis, this is why you need an aesthetician who worked for a medical doctor or a specially trained medical provider like a physicians assistant or a nurse practitioner.

The lesion may be a dangerous skin cancer or contagious wart

Click the link below to find a skin care expert near you to remove milia.

How To Remove Milia at Home

Milia can be removed but removal without extraction is not easy and is slow because these hard bumps are deeper than regular whiteheads.

If you do choose to treat your milia at home- if the bumps do not go away in 4 weeks - please see a dermatologist to make sure the diagnosis is milia.

Milia occur deep in the lower epidermis and dermis which is much deeper than you think. It is best not to use a needle or milia removal tool on yourself because you can cause permanent scarring.

At home treatments that use exfoliation can help but take months to work:



Facial Scrubs

Milia Treatment Creams

The Best Milia Treatment Cream- Retinoids

We recommend applying high-strength retinoids directly to the milia every night.

You should not use the high strength on your entire face because you will get side effects.

Instead use a low strength retinol for beginners on your entire face and the high strength retinoid on the milia.

Keep reading to find the best retinol milia treatment cream.

Retinoids such as retinol are the best way to treat milia at home. Retinoids to get rid of the bumps by bringing them to the surface and prevent more from coming back by keeping pores clear and regulating desquamation.

If you want to remove milia yourself or prevent getting more, adding a retinoid to your skincare routine will normalize keratinization and prevent the keratin from getting trapped in pores and causing milia.

Retinol to Treat Milia

When starting a skin care routine, I advise beginners to use a low strength retinol, because retinol can cause side effects when you first start using it.

However, for milia removal at home with a retinoid, you should:

Apply a high strength retinoid directly to the white bump to remove milia

Use a low strength on the entire face to prevent milia

These are the high strength retinols to treat milia:

Here are some low strength retinols to use on the entire face that should not cause side effects when used properly:

Best Face Washes and Cleansers to Remove and Prevent Milia:

Using skin care products such as alpha hydroxy acid cleansers will gently remove the dead skin cells from the surface, freeing the keratin from being stuck down in the hair follicle.

However, these exfoliators alone will not remove milia. Use them with a retinoid as described above.

Here are the best cleansers to treat milia if you have dry skin:

Here are the best cleansers to treat milia if you have oily skin:

How To Remove Milia On The Eyelid

Under no circumstances should you attempt to remove milia on the eyelid yourself. See an ophthalmologist or a dermatologist for treatment.

What Cosmetic Procedures and Treatments Treat Milia?

If you want a quick solution to treat milia, then you can schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists to discuss milia extraction.

Microdermabrasion, chemical peels and milia extraction are all effective in-office treatments to remove milia.

Microdermabrasion and chemical peels remove the top layer of dead skin cells, allowing the pores to open up and release the clogged keratin that causes the milia. However, these treatments can require some downtime after the procedure and should be followed with a custom skin care routine.

Alternatively, milia extraction using steam and a lancet will have less downtime.

We always recommend a personalized skin care routine customized for your Baumann Skin Type to prevent getting more milia.

How To Remove Milia At Home Safely

Do not use a needle or other milia removal tool! This can cause permanent scarring!

Milia can be removed at home using retinoids as discussed above. Retinoids will also prevent new milia seeds from forming.

As milia seeds are pores clogged with dead skin cells packed into a hair follicle, the best way to remove milia at home is using retinoid skin care products.

Retinoids help the cells to ‘let go’ of each other and improve desquamation (i.e. peeling away the dead skin cells).

Retinoids are best combined with salicylic acid or hydroxyacid cleanser and a facial scrub to speed up their removal and prevent new milia seeds from forming.

However, the best skin care routine to prevent and treat milia depends upon your Baumann Skin Type.

How Long Does It Take To Remove Milia At Home?

It usually takes around 45-60 days for cells to move from the basal layer of the skin (i.e. the innermost layer) to the surface, so it depends on how deep the milia are for how long it will take to remove them, though generally, it takes 2-3 weeks.

How To Prevent White Bumps On The Face

The best way to prevent white bumps on the face is by regularly using retinoids. Retinoids act to normalize the desquamation process, by lightly peeling the dead skin layers away. They also reduce the overproduction of keratin that can lead to the formation of milia clogging the hair follicles.

When just starting out with a retinoid product, it is essential to begin with the lowest strength formulation to allow your skin to get used to it as retinoids can have such a powerful effect. Start by using just one or two evenings a week, then build to every other night after a few weeks, and then every night after a few more weeks.

Once your skin is accustomed to the low strength, then you can build up to a mid-strength retinoid to prevent the formation of milia. You can also apply the mid-strength retinoid right on the milia to help remove milia at home.

Here are some of the best mid-strength retinoids to prevent milia:

What are milia?

Milia is a skin condition in adults that is not contagious or harmful, but these small white bumps on the face can be annoying because they won't pop. Milia appear on the skin suddenly as a result of clogged pores. These hard whiteheads contain dead skin cells, sunscreen and dirt that becomes trapped under the skin.

Where Do Milia Occur?

Milia are usually found on the cheeks, chin, around the eyelids and forehead, but can occur anywhere on the face, back or chest.

While entirely harmless, you probably find these little milia seeds unsightly and you can see them on video calls so you may be wondering how best to remove them.

Why Do I Get Milia?

The appearance of milia seeds on the face is entirely common and is caused by abnormal keratinization.

Using the wrong skin care routine for your Baumann Skin Type can cause milia.

The culprit is usually your moisturizer or serum that interferes with keratinization and desquamation of skin cells. You can find a list here of ingredients in skin care products that cause milia here.

Poor exfoliation or disordered desquamation can cause milia

Keratinization is the skin’s natural desquamation process that allows new skin cells to rise to the surface of the skin, in place of dead skin cells. This process occurs approximately every 40 days or so.

Keratinization can easily be disrupted, whether through dehydration, the wrong skin care products, or even by over-exfoliating. Yes, over-exfoliating! This irritates the hair follicle and upsets the natural desquamation process, resulting in the trapped pockets of keratin that form milia.

This is why a personalized skin care routine is essential, to ensure that the skin’s natural processes are not disrupted, but supported.

Make sure you only use products that are right for your Baumann Skin type. We make it easy by letting you shop by your skin type.

Be confident that the products you use are right for YOU and in the correct skin care routine order for YOUR skin type.

In Summary

The best way to treat milia at home is to follow a personalized skin care routine customized for your Baumann Skin Type. An effective retinoid skin care product will also help to prevent and remove milia.

Still have questions? Come ask our dermatologists on social media.

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