What Are Milia and How to Remove Them

Have you seen small white bumps on your skin that do not look like pimples or warts? These might be milia, which are yellowish or white harmless cysts that are common in a lot of people. Most of those who have milia do not notice them because there are no alarming symptoms, however, they can become inflamed and might change someone’s appearance.

Causes and Types of Milia

Milia is formed when the dead skin cells are trapped under the upper layer of the skin. The dead skin cells are also called keratin, which is a protein naturally found in our skin and hair. These trapped debris can turn into cysts which appear as raised bumps that look like a small pimple.

Milia is also known by the names oil seed or milk spot, and often occur in clusters on the face. There are arguments that connect the formation of milia to sun damage or complications due to illness, which is why milia can be classified into six types depending on the age of the person and its probable cause.

Primary milia is characterized by the appearance of the cysts on the forehead, eyelids, cheeks, and genitals among children and adults. Even without treatment, this type of milia will eventually disappear. However, their cause is still unknown similar to neonatal milia.

Neonatal milia are common in infants. They disappear after a while even without treatment, but you should have your baby’s skin checked to rule out other conditions like baby acne.

Juvenile milia is classified as an inherited condition and may even begin as neonatal milia. In others, the cysts do not show up until the child is a bit older. This type of milia will disappear and reappear even without treatment.

Secondary milia is the result of damage to the skin, unlike primary milia which can appear for no reason. The cysts will appear usually after the skin has healed from a previous condition. Secondary milia can also come as a result of exposure to cosmetics.

Multiple eruptive milia appears as a cluster of cysts and are usually itchy. They can be mistaken for acne or other skin conditions because of their appearance, but you should be careful when using ointments or creams that might make the condition worse.

Milia en plaque is the rarest form of milia that appear on the eyelid, behind the ear, jaw, and cheeks of middle-aged women. It is not clear what causes this type of milia, but they do not usually lead to life-threatening issues.

Removal and Treatment of Milia

As long as the milia is not inflamed or infected, it is no cause for alarm. It can go away after a while but that does not guarantee they will reappear after a few months. However, if the milia becomes bothersome or has altered your appearance, you can have them removed by a dermatologist or an ophthalmologist (if they are found near the eyes).

There are many ways to do this safely including heat therapy, cryotherapy, chemical peels, and laser ablation. However, if the milia are found in sensitive areas like near the eyes, it is best to have them removed with a lancet or sterilized needle.

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