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Milia in Adult
See also in: External and Internal Eye
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Milia in Adult

See also in: External and Internal Eye
Contributors: Noah Craft MD, PhD, Lindy P. Fox MD, Lowell A. Goldsmith MD, MPH
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Milia (singular, milium) are minute epidermoid cysts (also known as infundibular cysts) that present as small white or yellow papules, usually on the face. They are typically smaller than 3 mm in diameter. They occur when sloughed off skin becomes trapped in the dermis. There is no predilection for either sex or for any race or ethnicity.

Primary milia affect 40%-50% of newborns but may be found in patients of all ages.

Secondary milia often occur after cosmetic procedures (dermabrasion, chemical peels, ablative laser therapy) or trauma, or in conjunction with a number of blistering disorders. Milia may occur in tattoos. Patients with skin phototypes IV through VI tend to be more likely to develop milia as sequelae of chemical peels. Blistering disorders that may heal with milia and scarring include epidermolysis bullosa acquisita; porphyrias, including porphyria cutanea tarda; bullous pemphigoid; herpes zoster; contact dermatitis (allergic, irritant); bullous lupus erythematosus; and dermatitis herpetiformis. Milia have also been known to occur in areas of topical steroid-induced atrophy. Persistent or widespread milia are associated with a number of syndromes (see Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls).

Milia en plaque refers to a rare entity that typically occurs in the periauricular area.


L72.8 – Other follicular cysts of the skin and subcutaneous tissue

254679001 – Milia

Look For

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Milia are sometimes confused with closed comedones of Acne vulgaris
  • Pustular acne (see Acne vulgaris)
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Sebaceous hyperplasia
  • Trichoepithelioma
  • Syringoma
  • Eruptive vellus hair cyst
Some syndromes associated with milia are as follows:
  • Congenital hypotrichosis
  • Oral-facial-digital syndrome (type 1)
  • Rombo syndrome
  • Follicular atrophoderma and basal cell epitheliomata
  • Pachyonychia congenita

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Updated:10/23/2023
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Milia in Adult
See also in: External and Internal Eye
A medical illustration showing key findings of Milia (Pediatric) : Cheek, Eyelids, Face, Nose, White color, Tiny papules
Clinical image of Milia - imageId=59031. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Few tiny, smooth, white papules near the eye.'
Few tiny, smooth, white papules near the eye.
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