Syringoma vs Milia: What’s the Difference?

Have you spotted small, painless bumps on your skin? They seemingly pop up without warning. Figuring out what these skin bumps are and how to deal with them can be confusing. As someone who loves all things skincare, I set out to learn the difference between syringomas and milia1.

Syringomas and milia might seem alike, but they’re actually quite different. Syringomas show up as groups of bumps that are yellow or match your skin color1. They come from sweat glands growing too much, creating small, non-cancerous growths. Milia, on the other hand, are tiny white bumps filled with keratin. They’re mostly seen in babies but can also affect adults2.

Both syringomas and milia can appear on the face, often around your eyes and cheeks. But you can tell them apart by their looks. Syringomas are bigger, have an irregular shape, and might look yellow. Milia, in comparison, are smaller, round, and white2. Recognizing these differences is key to dealing with them effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Syringomas are harmless skin growths caused by overgrowths in sweat glands. Milia are small, white bumps filled with keratin.
  • Syringomas are more likely in women, especially those of Japanese descent. They can appear during puberty or between 40 to 60 years old1.
  • Milia often appear in newborns but can show up at any age. They might be linked to family traits or hormones2.
  • Both syringomas and milia can be treated using professional help, natural cures, and changes in diet2.
  • It’s crucial to identify these skin issues correctly to get the right treatment.

Understanding Syringomas

Syringomas are tiny growths caused by too many cells in sweat glands3. They look like small, hard bumps. These bumps are usually 1-3 millimeters wide. They can be yellowish, brown, or the color of your skin4. You might see them in groupings. They’re a common non-cancerous skin issue3.

What are Syringomas?

They are small bumps, often skin-colored or yellow. They happen when sweat gland cells grow too much4. You can find them on the face, chest, and arms. They can look like viral warts or xanthelasmas3. These bumps often show up in young people, starting in the early teens3.

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Types of Syringomas

There are four main types of syringomas:

  • Localized syringomas are in one part of the body. They’re the most common type5.
  • Familial syringomas come from parents5.
  • Down syndrome syringomas are linked to people with Down syndrome. About 20% of them have it, making it quite common in that group5.
  • Generalized or eruptive syringomas show up all over the body, mostly in younger people5.

Things like exercise, stress, and health issues can cause more syringomas to appear5. Most people don’t feel any symptoms from them. But, they might itch when you’re sweating5.

They are more often seen in Asian patients and people with Down syndrome3. Japanese women tend to get them more than others do. This is true in both the general Japanese population and among people with Down syndrome534..

Causes and Risk Factors of Syringomas

Syringomas are a common type of skin lesion. They often show up in early adulthood. They appear more in women, especially those of Asian descent6. The main cause is too many cells in the sweat glands. This can happen because of genes, certain medical conditions, hormonal shifts, hot weather, stress, and some drugs.

Women, teens, people with light skin, and those of Japanese background are more likely to get syringomas6. They are common in women and Asians or those with darker skin7. Genetics are a part of why some people get syringomas7. About 1 in 1000 folks might have syringomas, so they’re not super common8.

Syringomas can be linked to several health issues. The kind called clear cell syringomas is often found in people with diabetes6. If someone has Down’s syndrome, they might get more than one syringoma at a time8. Also, folks with Ehlers-Danlos or Marfan syndrome are more likely to have syringomas6.

Risk Factors for Syringomas Prevalence
Female gender More common in women7
Asian or darker skin types More common in Asians and individuals with darker skin7
Genetic factors Inherited (genetic) factors play a role in some cases7
Medical conditions (Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos, Marfan syndrome) Increased incidence in patients with these conditions6
Diabetes mellitus Well-established association with clear cell variant of syringomas6

So, the main issue with syringomas is the extra cells in sweat glands. A mix of genes, health issues, hormones, and the world around us can start this. Knowing the risks helps find syringomas early and treat them right678.

Clinical Presentation of Syringomas

Appearance and Location

Syringomas are small, firm bumps, usually 1-3 millimeters wide. They can be yellow or match the skin’s color9. These bumps often show up around the eyes and on the eyelids. But they can also be found on the face, chest, armpits, and genital area9. You don’t see syringomas often on the scalp.


Usually, syringomas don’t cause any symptoms except how they look10. Yet, they might make some people feel itchy, especially when they sweat9. Thankfully, they are painless and not harmful to health.

Research looked at over a thousand cases of people with syringomas, finding they made up about 9%. One study highlighted that around 8 out of 100 people with Down’s syndrome got eruptive syringomas10.

For giant syringomas on the vulva, using a certain cream found success in 67% of cases10. A method called low-voltage electrocoagulation worked in 76% of cases with periorbital syringoma10.

CO2 laser therapy showed an average 83% success in treating syringomas10. A different laser treatment was successful in 31 out of 35 patients, reaching an 89% success rate10.

General Issues and Variants

Generalized eruptive syringoma is rare and mainly affects women during or after puberty9. Doctors have classified syringomas into four types based on how they appear9.

These bumps can look like skin-colored, yellow, brown, or pink dots, and they’re usually 1 to 3 mm in size9. They often show up on the eyelids and upper cheeks, but sometimes appear in other areas like the armpits, trunk, and genitals9.


Women are more likely to get syringomas, and they are often found in middle-aged Asian women11. Syringomas typically start to show up during teenage years11. Around 40% of people with Down syndrome might develop syringomas11.

Treatment and Outcomes

Treating syringomas can be tough. Many methods are used, but the results vary9. Sometimes, syringomas can go away on their own, but this is very rare9. Besides, cases of itchy bumps have been seen in India9.

No treatment is consistently good for syringomas11. Plus, some ways of treating these bumps can cause skin problems like redness and scarring11109.

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Diagnosing Syringomas

Syringomas are often diagnosed during a close look from a dermatologist or another expert11. The small, flesh-colored or yellow bumps are easily found on the skin. Yet, sometimes, a skin biopsy is needed to make sure about the diagnosis. This also helps to tell them apart from issues that look alike, like milia or Fordyce spots11.

To diagnose syringomas with a skin biopsy, a tiny part of the skin is taken out for testing. This sample is looked at under a microscope. Through this close look, the unique features of syringomas, including tiny, coiled sweat ducts, are seen clearly12.

Before taking the sample, the healthcare provider will make the area numb with a local anesthetic. Then, they might close the biopsy site with a couple of stitches. The skin sample is sent to a lab for further study and analysis12.

Besides a skin biopsy, doctors use other methods to understand if it’s syringomas or something else. These can include:

  • Dermoscopy: A method that examines the skin up close with a special tool. It can show patterns that help in knowing if it’s syringomas12.
  • Imaging studies: Sometimes, imaging like ultrasound or MRI is used to look deeper into the skin. This can also support the confirmed diagnosis12.

Doctors combine many tools for finding out if it’s syringomas. This includes a detailed look, a skin biopsy, and sometimes more tests1112. This complete approach leads to an accurate diagnosis and plan for treating the syringomas.

Recognizing syringomas can be hard because they can look like other conditions. That’s why seeing a skilled dermatologist is wise for finding out the truth and taking care of this skin problem10.

Syringoma vs Milia: What’s the Difference?

Syringomas and milia may look similar, but they are different. Knowing these differences helps in managing these skin conditions.

Syringomas appear in groups and are caused by sweat gland overgrowth13. They look like small, yellowish bumps. On the other hand, milia are single, white keratin-filled cysts. They show as white, dome-shaped bumps14.

Their look is key in telling them apart. Syringomas are skin-colored or light yellow13. Milia, however, are white and have a characteristic milky center11. Syringomas come in clusters, but milia are often solo.

There’s also a difference in who gets these bumps and where they appear. Syringomas tend to show up in adults, especially Asian women as they age14. They can be on the eyelids, armpits, and other places. Milia, on the other hand, are mostly seen in babies’ faces.

Even though they’re usually harmless, knowing the difference is key. For the correct management, it’s best to see a dermatologist for advice131411.

Treatment Options for Syringomas

If you have syringomas, there are several treatments available15. Laser therapy, in particular, is very effective. It uses light beams to decrease the bumps by taking off layers of skin15. Lasers like erbium or CO2 can be used. They are less painful with quicker recovery15.

Laser Therapy

Laser resurfacing is a top choice for syringomas. It can clear many bumps in just one session. But you might need more treatments based on your case15. Erbium laser works well for those with darker skin. It’s customized to meet their needs15. Doctors often use both ablative and fractional lasers. The fractional laser helps make any leftover bumps less noticeable15.

Electrosurgery and Excision

Besides lasers, electrosurgery and surgical excision can also help. Electrosurgery uses heat from an electric current to remove the bumps15. During surgical excision, syringomas are cut out by a scalpel. However, it might not be best for dark-skinned people due to possible skin color changes15.


Dermabrasion removes skin’s outer layers to reveal new, smooth skin. This can reduce bump visibility, but it might need several sessions to work well15.


Some meds can treat syringomas, too14. Pills or lotions like acitretin, isotretinoin, and trichloroacetic acid might lessen or remove the bumps14. Yet, laser or surgery tends to work better than drugs15.

Before choosing a treatment, talking to a dermatologist is key15. They’ll look at your skin type and how bad your syringomas are. They’ll help you pick what will work best for you15.

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Remember, syringomas are usually not serious but improving how they look can boost your confidence15. The right treatment can make your skin smoother. This can make you feel more self-assured151614.

Prevention and Management of Syringomas

There’s no surefire way to stop syringomas from forming. But keeping your skin clean can cut down on how many show up14. Things like washing regularly and softly scrubbing your skin can make a difference14. It also helps to stay calm and use sunscreen to handle syringomas17.

If you have health issues like diabetes or problems with your thyroid, treating them can help with syringomas1413. Women from Japan or of Caucasian descent aged 25 to 40 have a higher chance of getting them17.

  • Keeping up a good diet and staying healthy is a smart way to prevent syringomas17.
  • Using natural skin products and scrubbing your skin often can also keep them away17.
  • If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar in check is important for stopping syringomas13.

There are treatments like chemical peels or surgery to get rid of syringomas. If they’re fully removed, the chance of them coming back is low141713.

Treatment Option Description
Trichloroacetic Acid Peels Helps reduce how many syringomas you have by peeling the skin17.
Dermabrasion A method that smooths the skin and can treat syringomas well17.
Cryotherapy An approach that involves freezing off the lesions1713.
Laser Surgery Removes syringomas with a laser, sometimes used with other methods1713.
Electrosurgery Uses electricity to take off syringomas1713.

For the best chance at avoiding syringomas, take good care of your skin and address any health issues. This approach works well141713.

“The key to managing syringomas is to address the root causes, such as genetics, hormones, and underlying medical conditions. By taking a proactive approach to skin care and seeking appropriate treatment, individuals can minimize the appearance and recurrence of these pesky bumps.”

Even though syringomas are not dangerous, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. They can help you figure out the best way to treat them and avoid any issues.

Potential Complications and Recurrence

Syringoma treatments are usually safe, but there can be problems. You might get scars or your skin color could change, especially with surgeries or electrosurgery18. Also, syringomas often come back after treatment18. So, it’s important to keep in touch with a skin doctor after removing syringomas.

How well different treatments work can change. Laser treatment, for instance, cuts down syringomas by 40% to 95%, based on how deep they are18. Cutting them out or burning them off with electricity works, but it could leave you with scars18. If dermabrasion makes the skin look better by 50% or more, it’s seen as a win18. After removing syringomas, you usually need about a week to recover18.

To lower the chance of syringomas coming back, taking good care of your skin and getting check-ups are smart18. Also, always use sunscreen. With a doctor’s help, you can pick the treatment that’s safest and helps you most.

Even though getting bad side effects from treating syringomas is not common, it’s key to know they could happen. These problems can really affect how you look and feel about yourself. So, talk a lot with your doctor before you decide on a treatment plan181920.


Syringomas and milia are types of skin bumps. They look different and need different care. It’s key to have a doctor check them to pick the right treatment and keep things safe21.

Syringomas might just bother you because of how they look. But, there are ways to make them look better. Recurrence is usual, and you might need constant check-ups and care21. One study shows that using a special microscope can help diagnose syringomas of the vulva better21.

Milia are little hard bumps seen in kids and grown-ups. Up to half of all babies might have them at birth. They are also seen in older kids and adults22. These bumps pop up in different places, like the face and even unusual spots22. Knowing how to find and treat syringomas and milia correctly is important. It helps keep your skin healthy and looking good.

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What are syringomas and how do they differ from milia?

Syringomas are benign skin bumps formed by too many sweat gland cells. They usually match the skin’s color or are slightly yellow. In contrast, milia are tiny, white keratin-filled bumps. Syringomas come in groups, but milia often stand alone. Syringomas show up in adults more, while milia are common in babies.

What are the different types of syringomas?

There are four types of syringomas: localized, familial, linked to Down syndrome, and generalized. Localized syringomas form in specific body areas and are quite frequent. Those that are familial are passed down from parents. The type tied to Down syndrome comes with this genetic condition. Generalized syringomas, found in various body spots, are usual in younger people.

What causes syringomas and who is at risk?

An overgrowth in the sweat gland cells causes syringomas. Factors like genetics, syndromes including Down and Marfan, hormone shifts, and more can kickstart this. Those at risk include women, teens, those with light skin, and Japanese people.

How are syringomas diagnosed?

A dermatologist can diagnose syringomas by just looking at them. Sometimes, they might need to cut a small sample from the skin for testing. This ensures it’s not another condition like milia or Fordyce spots.

What are the common treatment options for syringomas?

Laser treatment, especially with erbium or CO2 lasers, is the top choice for syringomas. Electrosurgery, cutting them out, or dermabrasion are also options. Medications in pill or lotion form may be prescribed too.

Can syringomas be prevented or managed?

Preventing syringomas is hard, but taking care of your skin, staying stress-free, and keeping sweat gland activity in check can help. It’s also useful to address and treat any medical issues linked to syringomas.

What are the potential complications and the risk of recurrence with syringoma treatments?

Although rare, treatments for syringomas might lead to scars or skin color changes. Bumps may come back even after treatment. So, managing the situation over time might be needed.

Source Links

  22. paper.pdf