All About Little White Bumps On Your Skin

At the first sight of small white bumps on your skin, it is customary to assume that they are annoying white spots or, possibly, keratosis pilaris. But if they don’t go away within a few days, you’ll wonder if those bumps are actually small imperfections or something completely different 一 like milia. If you scratch your head at the mention of this word, read on. In advance, we share what milia are, how to recognize if you have them and how to treat them.

What Is Milia And What Are The Causes?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, milia (one of which is a milium) is a group of small white bumps that occur when dead skin cells get trapped under the surface of the skin and form tiny hard cysts. It is very common in newborns, but it can also occur in mature.

The Cleveland Clinic also points out that there are two types of milia in mature: primary milia and secondary milia. The primary milia is similar to the milia observed in babies, while the secondary milia is due to some kind of skin trauma or skin health-issue. According to the National Biotechnology Information Center (NCBI), primary milia occur spontaneously and are mainly visible on the eyelids, nose, cheeks and scalp. The NCBI also points out that milia are benign lesions, so don’t panic if you have any.

According to Dr. Erin Gilbert, a certified dermatologist in New York City, milia can also be caused by the use of skin care products that are too heavy for your skin type. “I find that every time patients come to my practice with milia, we attribute it to the use of an eye cream or moisturizer that is too heavy for them,” she explains. “From time to time, however, some patients are simply inclined to contract milia. But they are the exception.”

How To Know If You Have Milia

While the only way to know for sure whether you have milia or not is to be diagnosed by a doctor, there are characteristics of milia that could help you identify it. “Unlike small pimples, milia are usually very firm and are not surrounded by the redness or inflammation of the pimples, ” explains Dr. Gilbert.

“Another condition to distinguish from milia is xanthelasma. These are yellowish cholesterol deposits under the skin, often from the eyelids or the lower eyes (also a place where you can see milia). The xanthelasma tend to be larger, are not solid and are more pronounced yellow, ” she says.

How To Treat Milia

According to the NCBI, milia usually does not require treatment because they usually resolve after a few weeks. Because milia is trapped in keratin or dead skin cells under the skin, the Cleveland Clinic suggests that mature with milia try over-the-counter exfoliating products that contain ingredients such as salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids that help remove dead skin cells. If the milia does not improve on its own or after a few weeks of exfoliating treatments, see a doctor who can remove the cysts through small incisions or lift the upper layer of the skin with a needle and remove the milia. Since milions usually occur in sensitive areas, it is extremely important to consult a professional to remove them in order to avoid infection and scarring.