Removing milia at home can be done safely, and we’ll explain how. We’ll also share how to know when you should see a dermatologist (because not everything can be done DIY-style).
In This Article:
Though milia aren’t harmful in any way, getting rid of them can be tough. There’s a right way and a wrong way to remove them—and the wrong way can damage your skin. Following these recommendations should help you safely get rid of the bumps you have and possibly keep them from ever coming back!
Milia Removal at Home
Removing milia at home is not for the faint of heart, or for those who tend to be overly aggressive with their skin. It also isn’t something we typically encourage, especially when milia are present around the eyes. However, knowing that some of you will try it anyway, we figured we might as well explain how to do it the right way!
Removing milia yourself is not like "popping" a pimple. Milia are not pimples; in fact, in many ways they are completely unrelated. Unlike pimples, which release somewhat easily on their own, milia actually need to be excised. Excising (sometimes referred to as "unroofing") milia is more risky to your skin than popping a pimple, which is why doing it the right way is even more important.
There is only minimal benefit to be gained from removing milia, other than the aesthetics, of course. If aesthetics is important to you, we understand why you want to remove milia, and, just as with pimples, it’s not always realistic to see a physician every time you get one. So, for those of you who aren’t going to spend the money to see a physician to remove milia and are determined to do it yourself, we list the steps you need to do it the right way and minimize the risk to skin.
Note: "Excise" means you need to make a tiny tear in skin, directly on top of or near the milia, and then literally lift it out of skin with tweezers or use a comedone extractor with only slight pressure. Here are the steps to follow:
- Make sure you have on hand a sharp needle, very pointed tweezers (flat-ended tweezers will not work), and/or a comedone extractor.
- Cleanse your face with a gentle, water-soluble cleanser and a soft washcloth or cleaning brush. Rinse.
- Dry skin gently and make sure skin is completely dry before trying to remove milia.
- Rub the needle, tweezers, and/or comedone extractor with alcohol to prevent infection.
- Gently, with either the needle or the tweezers, make the teeniest tear in skin, either on top of the milia or right next to it. That should give you enough access to remove the milia.
- With very little pressure, use the comedone extractor to gently (and we mean really gently) coax the milia out through the small opening. If you’ve made the teeny tear on top of the milia, use the tweezers to lift it out.
- When you’re done with the removal attempt, finish with your usual skincare routine.
Do not repeat this process over the same bump or you will damage skin, especially the delicate skin around the eyes. Be extremely careful using sharp instruments near the eyes, too. If you don’t have a steady hand, don’t even think about removing milia around the eyes at home!
Milia Removal: When to See the Dermatologist
Consider seeing a dermatologist who can remove milia right there in the office using a needle or a tiny lancing utensil and, sometimes, a comedone extractor.  The procedure is fast, painless (numbing cream may be applied) and heals quickly for most people. Going forward, adding a BHA exfoliant to your daily skincare routine should help keep milia from popping up under the eyes again—or at least minimize how many you get!
Our strong warning is that if you have many milia all at the same time, as opposed to just one or two that occur intermittently, don’t even begin to do it yourself; it’s best to see a physician. The risk of trying to remove lots of them all at once by yourself is just too great, especially when milia are under your eyes.
- Gurvinder P, et. al.. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002;47(4):602–603.