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Milia: What Are They And How Do We Get Rid Of Them


Ever wondered what those tiny white bumps on your face are? They seem to appear out of nowhere, this minuscule, painless white bump. Then you try to pop them, but when you do give them a squeeze, nothing happens — no puss, no blood, nothing AND they are still there!!. So naturally you begin to wonder what it is.

Milia or aka milk spots, develop when the skin doesn’t exfoliate or shed dead skin cells properly therefore a plug of skin cells called Keratin, a protein, becomes trapped just beneath the surface of the skin. They are tiny 1-2 millimetres in size, white to yellow in colour. They are hard raised cysts that develop just under the outer-most layer of our skin. Milia most commonly appear on the face around the eyes and cheeks but can appear anywhere and can occur at any age and skin type,

So What Causes Them?

There are a few reasons why you can develop Milia. The use of to rich skin care products that does not allow the skin to breath and prevents natural skin exfoliation, not cleaning the skin properly of makeup and Milia has been associated with medical conditions such as Rombo syndrome, basal cell naevus syndrome. Another contributing and important factor is sun damage.

Milia are harmless and if left will go away on their own but this may take months to years. Ultimately, some people find these lesions unsightly and annoying and seek advise from a professional to advise on cosmetic treatments that can help treat and remove them.


Home Treatments and Prevention

Unlike acne, milia can develop without reason and cannot be extracted the way typical blemishes can. If you are prone to getting milia, there is no true way to permanently prevent them from forming. That being said, there's a whole host of ways to help prevent and remove them.

  • Clean affected area with mild facial soap daily

  • Steam to open soften skin and open pores

  • Exfoliate regularly

  • Use sunscreen at least SPF 30+

  • Use topical Retinoids Vitamin A, Glycolic, salicylic acid for a faster cell turnover.

  • If face creams are the cause, change to lighter creams that are able to penetrate easily into the skin or change to gel creams instead.

Another option will be to have milia removed by trained clinician they include,

  • Micro-incision (Deroofing) A sterile needle picks out the contents of the cyst

  • Advanced Electrolysis, A small prob is inserted into the milia which instantly dissolves the fatty tissue via heat.

  • Cryotherapy (Freezing with liquid nitrogen )

  • Laser Ablation.

  • Destruction Curettage. Surgically scrapping


Milia are not harmful and will ultimately go away on their own over time.If for cosmetic purposes you decide to have these removed always seek treatment with a professional to reduce the risk of scarring by too harsh treatment.

Also be aware that treatment for milia may take time, often several months, to really clear them.

For further reading

Epstein W, Kilgman, AM. The pathogenesis of milia and benign tumours of the skin. J invest Dermatol 1956;26:1-11 The American Journal of Dermatopathology Milia En Plaque as a distinct Follicular Hamartoma with cystic Trichoepitheliomatous Features.

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