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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 1 minute read

Milia is the condition describing tiny pearly-white bumps on the skin under the eyes. These are little cysts (or sacks) containing a hard semi-solid protein called keratin.

There may be one two or a few, and usually cause no symptoms except that people become self-conscious about their appearance. They are entirely harmless, they need no treatment, and most disappear within a few months (although new ones may form in time).

In adults, these may form in response to recent sun exposure or from skin damage such as from burn or unusual skin conditions. They appear in up to half of newborn babies, appearing around the eyes, nose and across the cheeks and clearing up a short while later.

Doctor’s advice

Is it contagious?

There is nothing contagious about milia.

It can be tempting to squeeze or scratch milia with the hope of them going, but this will risk damage, infection and scarring. If the appearance is very bothersome or you wish to have them treated, you should book an appointment with a private dermatologist.

When should I see my doctor?

There is no need to see the doctor about milia unless you are unsure of the diagnosis or have other skin conditions or symptoms.

If you wish to have milia treated, you can book an appointment with a private dermatologist. As this is a harmless condition, the NHS does not provide any treatment.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have milia.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023