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Here’s How To Remove Milia Safely at Home

The skin’s surface is a strange place, full of friendly and not-so-friendly cells and bacteria. It's important to remember that each blemish and bump requires a unique solution — and milia are no exception. These tiny white bumps on the face are often mistaken for pimples or whiteheads

But the treatments for milia differ, so instead of using solutions meant for other pesky blemishes, let’s learn how to remove milia effectively. 

October 24, 2022
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Table of Contents

What are milia?

When dead skin cells aren’t removed, a new layer of skin grows over them, creating milia. They’re essentially small cysts composed of old keratin-rich skin cells resting beneath the skin and forming white bumps. 

Milia are very common in babies and slowly decrease in intensity and frequency as we age. If your child has hard white bumps on their face, don’t panic — they typically clear up on their own. 

While the primary type affects people of all ages for more general reasons, there are two specific types: 

  • Milia en plaque are clusters forming raised patches around the eye area, jaw, cheeks, and behind the ears. This type is more common in middle-aged women. 
  • Secondary milia are a side effect of traumatic skin damage, like burns, blisters, rashes, sun exposure, or a reaction to topical cream. 

How to treat milia

Milia aren’t dangerous and often go away on their own. However, there are safe ways of removing milia at home — here are our top recommendations. 

Gentle cleansers

Using a gentle face wash daily to clear dead skin cells helps remove milia. We recommend Burt's Bees' sensitive facial cleanser because it’s designed to remove dirt, oil, and makeup — all of which make it harder for dead skin cells to shed. It’s formulated without parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, fragrance, or soap, making it safe for every skin type. 

Steam and exfoliants

Pour boiling water into a bowl. With your head tented under a towel, place your face over the steam for 5–8 minutes to loosen skin flakes, open pores, and release any irritants.

With pores open and skin relaxed, it’s time to exfoliate to remove dead skin cells. Gentle yet super effective, Anthony’s facial scrub is perfect for this situation as it’s designed to improve skin’s surface while combating ingrown hairs and milia. It’s formulated with Bora Bora white sand, vitamin C, aloe vera, algae, and chamomile, so you’ll enjoy soothed, smoothed skin. 

Salicylic acid

Physicians have been using naturally occurring salicylic acid for at least 2000 years to peel away layers of damaged skin. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution is a squalane-based, non-irritating serum formulated with salicylic acid to decongest skin and provide surface exfoliation effectively.

Apply 2–3 drops in the morning and evening followed by your preferred face moisturizer

Glycolic acid

This form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) penetrates skin deeply because of its small molecular structure. It also helps skin produce collagen for quicker cell turnover, meaning fewer dead skin cells stuck to the skin’s surface creating milia. 

We recommend Kate Somerville's clinically proven exfoliating moisturizer — this powerhouse includes glycolic acid and is designed to refine the skin’s surface for a dewy, clear complexion. 

Retinol (vitamin A)

Retinol is often used in anti-aging serums because it promotes skin cell turnover, leaving complexions refreshed and blemish-free. This is precisely how retinol helps clear milia — by speeding up the body’s skin cell replacement process. 

One of our favorite retinol creams is Three Ships' Dream bio-retinol night cream because it uses bio-based retinoids derived from the medicinal herb picao preto, which is safe for all skin types. Apply nightly to speed up the milia removal process. 

How to prevent milia

Not only are the methods above effective at removing milia, but they’re also great preventative measures. Another method for preventing milia is wearing sunscreen daily — this protects skin from damage that can cause cells to build on each other. We recommend a water-based sunscreen that’s at least SPF30

If treating milia at home doesn't work, consult your dermatologist. They'll have all the necessary tools and expertise to help remove those benign white bumps on your face.

No matter the method you choose, there’s one thing you should never do: pop them. It’s ineffective and often leads to other skin concerns like scabs and scars. 

Treat your skin

Feeling like you’re unable to remove stubborn bumps and blemishes is frustrating. Pair a few tips and tricks from this tutorial and you’ll likely see promising results. 

To find the best products for your skincare goals, check out reviews on Flip. Our community discusses trending items so you can feel well-informed and confident about your next purchase.

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