What’s the Deal With Milia?

Milia. Everyone gets them: those irksome, deep-seated, white bumps on our skin. Harmless, they form when skin cells become trapped just below the surface of the skin rather than exfoliate naturally. The trapped cells become walled off into tiny, bead-like cysts that are typically found on the face, around eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead. They affect people of all ages, ethnicities, and both sexes. They’re so common in newborns that they’re considered normal. In newborns they typically resolve on their own.

Milia can form after something clogs the ducts leading to the skin surface, after an injury, burn, or blistering of the skin by poison ivy, for example. Milia can even occur on mucous membranes such as the inner surface of the cheek or the border of the lips. Also, over time, sun-damaged skin results in a thicker epidermis, making it more difficult to slough off dead epidermal skin cells and thus more likely for milia to form. Yet another reason to limit your lifelong sun exposure

To help prevent milia from forming, regular at-home exfoliation with a gentle exfoliating scrub or facial wash will keep the epidermis thin and smooth. If you have milia-prone skin, wear oil-free sunscreen, and use makeup, moisturizers and skin products labeled oil-free or non-comedogenic. Also, talk to your doctor about prescribing glycolic acid products, retinoid creams or other topical treatments to help cell turnover.

Another way to help prevent milia is to undergo a series of microdermabrasions or glycolic acid peels at your doctor’s office. It might be useful to do this periodically.

Milia can resolve on their own as the thin surface skin covering them is worn away. Often, though, people want a quicker resolution and will opt for removal. Your doctor can do this by gently opening the milia with a sterile lancet or needle, and then applying pressure with a comedone extractor.

Have milia? We can help. Contact Zimmet Vein & Dermatology today to schedule an appointment.

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