Milium (plural, Milia) is the medical name for the whitehead, which is a small, round, white skin growth. Milia are usually found on the face and are common and harmless. Milia may appear after a superficial skin injury such as a burn or scrape. However, we usually don’t know why people grow milia. They tend to appear in adults, especially in those who had considerable sun exposure over the years. Sometimes they appear in crops in young people. They are not related to diet, cosmetics, or how you clean your skin. Many persons ignore their milia; others find them a cosmetic nuisance and wish to have them removed.
The milium is a small sac growing within the upper part of the skin. Because it is in the skin-and not on top of it- it can not be scratched, scraped or rubbed away. Milia can be removed by using a hypodermic needle to gently open the overlying skin and then flicking out the small sac. Some patients successfully “pop out” their milia with a sterile needle. However, most patients prefer to have a physician remove them’. If milia are large, I usually inject a local anesthetic (Xylocaine/Lidocaine) and then the milium can be carefully removed without discomfort. Small milia are usually removed without anesthesia because the sting of the anesthetic may be worse than the pinprick required to remove the milium.