A common skin condition we often see and talk about in the skin clinic is something called ‘Milia’. You may have heard of this term or may have even experienced them yourself.
We find many of our clients come to us for looking for answers to find out exactly what they are and what can be done to remove them.
So…what are they?
‘Milia’ is a collection of small hard white ‘milky’ looking bumps that appear under the skin typically around the cheek, eye and nose area. On it’s own it is also known as a ‘milium cyst’. They can occur on all skin types and people of all ages, and can be very common in newborn babies. Milia tends not to be painful or itchy as such but can sometimes give some discomfort to people depending on where they are on the skin. They can easily be mistaken for ‘whiteheads’, but the two are different.
Milia is formed when the keratin (a protein/substance that makes up and strengthens our skin cells found in our skin, hair and nails), becomes trapped beneath the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. This causes the tiny cysts that we see on the skin either in a group or singularly. They can become trapped for reasons such as when our dead skin cells do not shed properly and ‘clump’ together or when the skin is damaged by the sun which then causes the shedding process to not function properly. The ageing process, injury or damage to the skin, or medication and illness can all play a part to the contribution of these pesky white spots.
Milia can fall into 2 categories, ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ milia. Primary milia is the form I mentioned above about the entrapped keratin or it could be when the skin is dehydrated and dry skin flakes block the pores, and secondary has the same appearance as the primary but has formed because something has clogged the ducts (sweat glands or hair follicle) that lead up to the skins surface due to damage on the skin. Causes of this could also include the use of rich heavy creams (such as sunscream) that prevents the skin from breathing.
So…how can we remove them?
On some occasions, the milia cysts will resolve on their own. As they are so close to the skins surface sometimes during your cleansing and exfoliation routines they will come away by them selves without you noticing or feeling a thing. But, if the milia keep appearing then you may want to look for an alternative method. We have found that using the Sterex Advanced Electrolysis machine is perfect for the removal of milia. It is one of the most effective treatments for milia removal. The electrolysis needle that is used (which is about the size of an eyelash!), is carefully inserted into the milia cyst where a current is applied breaking down the hard fatty deposit of the cyst which is then dispearsed into the body. A slight heat sensation may be felt during treatment but it is a quick process with little discomfort. 1-2 days later a small crust may form which must not be removed and left to drop off. In larger milia cases a 2nd treatment may be required 3-4 weeks later.
Facial peels and good homecare routines of course will all help with trying to prevent these annoying cysts from appearing. If you would like any further advice please come and see us for one of our in-depth skin consultations with our highly knowledgeable skin therapists.
Just one piece of advice from us….
Do NOT pick, poke or squeeze your milia, no matter how tempting! This could cause bleeding, irritation and scaring!