If you’ve ever noticed small white bumps on your skin, you may have wondered what they were. These bumps, called milia, are actually cysts that form under the skin. Milia can appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly seen on the face. Although they are not dangerous, many people find them unsightly and seek treatment to get rid of them. Keep reading to learn more about milia and how to treat them.
What is a milia grain?
Milia are common on the skin of individuals of all ages. They appear when keratin (a substance secreted by the skin) gets trapped under the outer layer of skin and forms a small cyst. Individual milium is formed at the base of a hair follicle or sweat gland.
They can be divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary lesions form directly from trapped keratin and are commonly found on the faces of children and adults. Secondary lesions are also tiny cysts and look similar, but they develop after something has blocked the channels leading to the surface of the skin, such as an injury, burn, or blistering of the skin.
Who may be affected?
Milia spots can appear in people of all ages, regardless of life stage, age and gender. Lesions are so common in newborns (up to 50% of them) that they are considered normal.
Secondary lesions are likely to appear on the skin of individuals suffering from the following diseases:
- Vesicular skin diseases such as bullous pemphigoid, epidermolysis bullosa and porphyria cutanea tarda.
- Skin lesions with blisters.
- After resurfacing procedures.
- After long-term use of steroid creams.
- Chronic sun damage.
Where can they usually be found?
Milia appear as 1-2 mm, white to yellow, dome-shaped bumps that are not painful or irritating.
Primary lesions are most often located:
- Around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead in adults and infants.
- On the gums and palate inside the mouth of infants; these lesions are called Epstein’s pearls and are present in 85% of infants.
The most common sites of secondary lesions are:
- Any place on the body where there is another skin condition, especially on the backs of the hands.
- On the face of people who have suffered significant damage from sun exposure.
Primary lesions in infants tend to heal on their own within weeks, but primary lesions in adults tend to persist.
Although the lesions are located in the outer layers of the skin, they are difficult to remove without the proper tools. Do not try to remove them at home, you could leave a scar.
How to get rid of milium grains?
First, forget to press. This will only irritate and damage the skin without fixing the problem. Pressing the bump with bare hands is prohibited, as well as using tools to treat the lesions. You don’t want to damage your skin with poor removal techniques.
It is best to hire professionals for this. Removal of milia by a skin care professional usually requires an incision, especially when the cysts are deep below the surface of the skin. It is generally a quick and painless procedure. Depending on the dermatologist or esthetician, they should be able to get rid of milia using a comedone extractor, piercing tool, or needle.
When to consult a doctor?
Treatments a doctor may prescribe: If the doctor’s diagnosis is primary milia in an infant, no treatment is necessary, as the bumps will disappear on their own within a few weeks.
Primary or secondary lesions may heal on their own, but your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Puncturing each milia with a sterile lancet or scalpel, followed by removal of the cyst material using a tool called a comedone extractor.
- A topical retinoid cream such as tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene.
- A series of acid peels or microdermabrasion in a dermatologist’s office.
Do you like our content?
Get our latest publications free and delivered straight to your inbox every day