Milia. Small word, small in appearance. But for something so tiny, it can actually feel like a big issue for many people. In this article, I’ll cover what milia are and how to treat this skin issue that affects so many of us.
What are milia?
Milia are tiny raised dots that are generally white or skin-coloured, and they’re usually found lurking around the eyes and cheeks, and sometimes the nose. Due to their appearance, milia are often mistaken for spots but there are several key things that set them apart from their comedone chums.
Spots develop when our sebaceous (oil) glands get clogged. They can come about due to hormones, diet, and not taking off our makeup, to name just a few factors. Milia, on the other hand, are actually a build up of skin protein - balls of keratin that get trapped just under the surface of the skin. They often form in clusters but can sometimes just be found as individual or sporadically placed bumps. Unlike spots, they don't get inflamed and they aren't filled with puss.
What causes milia?
One of the lovely things about milia is that they don’t care what gender or age you are. They can appear in babies, children, men and women. Sometimes they go away, sometimes they stick around - like that annoying guest at the end of the evening who just won’t leave - until treated. How delightful of them.
There are certain things that can make us more susceptible to getting milia. Sun exposure, smoking, heavy or greasy eye products and biphasic eye makeup remover (those that contain a water element and an oil element) are just a few examples. Sometimes, annoyingly, it’s just plain down to genetics! And some skin experts believe it’s caused by blocked sweat glands.
To help prevent milia, avoid too much sun (this is always a good idea anyway), give up the cigarettes, and use lighter eye products. Other things you can do include making sure you’re gentle with your skincare (especially around the eye area) as rubbing the skin can cause irritation, making the milia even worse.
How to treat milia
There are a number of things you can do at home that can help with milia. Experts suggest using a gentle exfoliation, such as an acid toner - an AHA, like glycolic acid - that will help coax them out. Stay clear of the eye area though - the last thing you want to do is add another issue into the mix. They also recommend retinoids, which are great for helping with skin cell turnover.
Milia can be frustrating, and the temptation to pop them like a spot can become overwhelming - but it’s important not to try this at home. If the stubborn little blighters won’t budge and you’re determined to treat milia, go to see an aesthetic practitioner who is trained to safely and effectively remove them.
You’re probably wondering what milia treatments are available. Well, there are a few to choose from. Take trusty extractions (one of those things where you don’t want to look but at the same time you really want to look), for example, where the practitioner will take a sterile needle and manually extract the milia. Otherwise, they’ll use electrocautery - a buzzing device that nicks the skin using electric-currents.
If that’s not your vibe, some aestheticians also offer chemical peels (due to the fact that glycolic acid works well on milia) and microdermabrasion to reduce the appearance of those pesky pearly cysts. The best thing to do, as with any skin issue, is to have a full consultation with an aesthetic practitioner, who will be able to assess your skin concern and see what the best course of treatment is for you.
Glowday lists tonnes of medically qualified aesthetic practitioners equipped to deal with your skin concerns. Search now and get glowing!