If you’ve ever noticed small bumps on your face that look like pimples but aren’t pimples, it may have been milia. According to Dr Firas Al-Niaimi, Group Medical Director of sk:n, milia (also known as milium cysts) are small white raised cysts, bumps or spots usually found around the eye area or cheeks. “Unlike a pimple or spot,” explains Dr Al-Niami, “milia feel quite hard, almost like a small piece of grit under the skin, and do not have any redness or inflammation as you might expect with whiteheads or acne-related spots.” They are frequently seen in clusters and are especially common for newborns.
WHAT CAUSES MILIA?
“Most commonly milia occur after dead skin cells build up and become trapped in the pores near the surface of the skin,” Dr Rekha Tailor, cosmetic doctor and owner of Health and Aesthetics Clinic told Cohorted Cult. “If this build-up isn’t expelled naturally, it can become a small cyst,” she continued. It can also occur when sweat ducts are obstructed, which Dr Tailor puts down to lifestyle factors like lack of sleep or smoking.
HOW DO YOU TREAT MILIA?
Most milia will disappear naturally over time. However, for some, this could take years, and if you want it removed for cosmetic reasons, you’ll need to see a doctor or dermatologist. Dr Ross Perry, Medical Director of CosmedicsUK, claims laser will achieve the best results, destroying the cyst and stimulating healing and cell renewal. Depending on the severity, Perry also recommends micro-needling or intensive exfoliation treatments like chemical peels or microdermabrasion. If you’re looking for something you can do at home, a topical prescription-strength retinoid may also reduce its appearance.
CAN YOU PREVENT MILIA?
The key to preventing milia is exfoliation. As Dr Tailor says, “Effectively removing makeup is the gateway to clearer, healthier skin in general” but “‘Exfoliating everyday [is] vital for perfect skin.” If exfoliation isn’t already a part of your skincare regime, now is the time to start.