Milia is a skincare issue that is far more mainstream than you may think. Not to be mistaken for whiteheads, these little spots are actually keratin-filled cysts. They are white or yellowish in colour, firm to the touch, slightly raised, between 1–4 mm wide and develop on the surface of the skin. They’re often more prevalent in those with sun-damaged skin, and new-born babies (hence their nickname milk spots). Typically, they’re commonly found on the cheeks, around the eyes and especially near the nose and it’s not, not uncommon to get several in one specific area. They can also occur at any age.
Milia is “an aesthetic” issue rather than a cause for concern. They aren’t indicative of anything to worry about and do not require treatment unless they are bothersome cosmetically. Milia can eventually disappear thanks to the skin’s natural exfoliation process, but it can take years.
Primary milia occur randomly, when keratin, a protein that helps harden the outer layer of the skin, becomes trapped in the pores near the surface of the skin and forms a fluid-filled sac. Secondary milia can develop as a result of trauma from events, such as dermabrasion, tissue damage, blistering, and skin inflammation. Secondary milia may also occur as a side effect of some medications. Milia can also pop up without rhyme or reason. Likewise, milia can occur in absolutely anyone and everyone.
Milia should always be treated or removed by an experienced skincare or medical professional to prevent scarring. Do not attempt to squeeze them as they are not ordinary spots and this could worsen their appearance or damage the skin.
Skincare: Prescription strength retinoid creams are normally the first recommended line of treatment. Steroid creams are also commonly prescribed to help reduce or remove milia as well as a glycolic lotion. These can help to dissolve the dead skin debris and eventually cause the milia to flake away.
Laser Therapy/ Excision: If the cysts are deep below the skin’s surface and do not respond to topical treatments, they can be removed by laser therapy or excised using a sterile needle to gently lift the contents out. Results are immediate.
*Milia can be caused or exacerbated by the regular use of thick facial moisturisers and eye creams, which can clog pores. Use lightweight formulas instead and never take an eye cream up to the lashline.
* Avoid any facial products that contain ingredients such as lanolin or mineral oil
*Exfoliate regularly using gentle products that contain glycolic or salicylic acid as these will help prevent pores from blocking and reduce the chances of milia forming.