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Colloid Milium

  • Author: Susan Cooper, MB, ChB, MD, FRCP; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Aug 18, 2015


Colloid milium is a rare condition characterized by (1) the presence of multiple, dome-shaped, amber- or flesh-colored papules developing on light-exposed skin and (2) the observance of dermal colloid under light microscopy. The 4 variants are (1) an adult-onset type, (2) a nodular form (nodular colloid degeneration),[1] (3) a juvenile form,[2, 3] and (4) a pigmented form, thought to be due to excess hydroquinone use for skin bleaching.[4]



Colloid milium is a degenerative condition linked to excessive sun exposure and possibly exposure to petroleum products and hydroquinone. The origin of the colloid deposition in the dermis is not certain, but it is thought to be due to degeneration of elastic fibers[5, 6] in the adult form and due to degeneration of UV-transformed keratinocytes in the juvenile form. Juvenile colloid milium is inherited.




Colloid milium is rare, but more than 100 case reports are present in the world literature. No known figures exist on prevalence.


Colloid milium is more common in fair-skinned individuals.


The adult form of colloid milium is more common in males.


The rare juvenile form of colloid milium occurs before puberty. Adult colloid milium is more common in elderly patients.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Susan Cooper, MB, ChB, MD, FRCP MRCGP, FRCP, Consultant Dermatologist and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Department of Dermatology, Churchill Hospital, UK

Susan Cooper, MB, ChB, MD, FRCP is a member of the following medical societies: Royal College of Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Elizabeth J Soilleux, MBBCh, PhD, MA, FRCPath Associate Professor of Pathology, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, NDCLS, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford University; Consultant Histopathologist, Department of Histopathology, John Radcliffe Hospital, UK

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Edward F Chan, MD Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Edward F Chan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Marjan Garmyn, MD, PhD Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; Chair and Adjunct Head, Department of Dermatology, University of Leuven, Belgium

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous coauthor, Ravi Ratnavel, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

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  21. Zeng YP, Nguyen GH, Fang K, Jin HZ. A split-face treatment of adult colloid milium using a non-ablative, 1550-nm, erbium-glass fractional laser. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2014 Dec 2. [Medline].

  22. Gomes J, Ventura F, da Luz Duarte M, Brito C. Colloid milium successfully treated with MAL-PDT. Int J Dermatol. 2013 Jun. 52(6):767-9. [Medline].

Hematoxylin and eosin–stained section of skin (X40) showing a central focus of amorphous, eosinophilic, homogenous colloid with surrounding fissuring.
Elastic van Gieson stain of the same area showing strong (black) staining of the colloid for elastin.
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