Milia are small white cysts that form from an accumulation of dead skin cells near the skin's surface. In children, milia can form at any age, but are often seen in newborns and manifest as white bumps on the nose and face. In babies, milia resolves on its own, but in older children, treat milia under the care of a doctor.
Milia presents as small, individual, white or yellow slightly raised bumps on the skin around the nose, cheeks and sometimes the chin, as stated by Medline Plus. Milia also form as bumps on the gums or the roof of the mouth.
How They Form
Dead skin cells adhere to and become trapped underneath new skin. They collect in small pockets, which develop into milia. In older children, this occurs with clogged sweat glands and hair follicles and irritated or inflamed skin. In newborns, milia form because they have underdeveloped oil glands at birth.
Primary milia develop on their own from trapped dead skin cells and manifest around the eyes and nose. Prolonged sun exposure or an existing skin condition may cause secondary milia to develop. These conditions cause dead skin cells to clog hair follicles and sweat glands.
Milia may form on the skin of children affected by rashes, such as from poison ivy, or burn injuries and blisters.
Diagnosis, Complications and Prognosis
Careful examination by a doctor is enough to diagnose milia. They have a pearly white, raised presentation that are easily observable and does not require further testing.
According to Medline Plus, there are no known complications associated with milia in children. Milia are not liked for their appearance and improper removal may leave the area with a scar.
The resolution or treatment of milia usually results in a good prognosis. Once it goes away it does not reoccur.
Milia resolve on their own in children. In newborns, the milia eventually go away as their sweat glands and skin develop. In older children, milia may not go away by themselves. Doctors will treat the skin conditions that cause the secondary milia, which may also resolve the milia. Other methods of treatment include topical creams containing retinoid, skin peels or physical removal of the cyst, according to Skinsight Research.
As stated by Medline Plus, there are no known ways to prevent milia from forming, especially in infants. Preventing skin injuries may prevent secondary milia from forming on the skin.