Does the term milia sound new to you? Chances are you may have had, or still have, these little bumps under your skin but are completely unaware of what they’re called. We don’t blame you! A lot of people mistake these white bumps for whiteheads and end up picking at them – which you shouldn’t because that just gives birth to a whole other set of skin problems. Milia isn’t harmful but spotting these bumps on your skin can drive any skincare buff crazy. Before you start panicking and experimenting with a range of products, here are some deets about the skin condition that can help you identify and treat milia.
What Is Milia?
Milia, also referred to as ‘milk spots,’ are tiny keratin-filled cysts that form just under the skin. White or yellowish in appearance, they often pop up under the outer skin layer of the eyelid, around the eyes, nose, and on the chin and cheeks. Although they are commonly associated with babies, they can also affect teenagers and adults. Milia are formed when keratin gets trapped under the skin but doesn’t develop within a pore.
There’s no single defined cause of milia; rather a number of factors that are said to lead to it. These factors include:
1. Skin Products
Heavy, pore-clogging oils found in moisturizers and other skincare products can cause milia. Milia occurs when dead skin builds up in pores near the surface area of the skin, which, if not expelled naturally, can turn into small cysts. As the eye area doesn’t contain oil glands and has limited circulation, products used in this area don’t penetrate the skin properly, hence leading to milia.
2. Sun Damage
Sunburns, bumps and itchiness caused by exposure to harmful UV rays also contribute to milia. They make the skin rough and leathery and difficult for dead cells to rise to the skin’s surface and shed normally.
3. Skin Infection
It’s no secret that one skin infection can leave its traces behind in the form of other, less harmful skin problems. Same is the case with milia. Certain skin conditions, like rosacea, seborrhoeic dermatitis, skin injuries and skin traumas, such as laser treatments, chemical peels, and herpes, can clog the sweat ducts in our skin and result in secondary milia, which looks like primary milia but develops differently.
4. Unhealthy Lifestyle
Just like dark circles, milia can also occur in some people due to unhealthy habits. Lack of sleep, poor personal hygiene, excessive use of steroids and smoking can all cause this condition.
Before you start using traditional acne treatments to cure milia, you should know that these aren’t enough to combat this skin problem. In some cases, milia can disappear without any treatment. However, secondary milia can remain for years if not removed on time. You can, however, get them manually removed by an aesthetician or dermatologist. For at home solutions, gentle, weekly exfoliation and using retinols can help get rid of these tiny bumps.