The Truth About Milia

Aesthetics Hub | 11 Feb 2019

Milia, which are also known as milk spots or oil seeds, are tiny, white, unsightly bumps that tend to congregate under the eyes, on the eyelids, around the nose, or around the lips.


Credit: Healthline

Although they may look a bit like whiteheads, they are actually keratin-filled cysts that are formed when skin cells become trapped under the epidermis. You can be genetically cursed with milia, or simply develop them as your skin ages.


Now listen up. The most common cause of milia is from using heavy skin care products that contain comedogenic ingredients, which can prevent the sloughing and shedding of dead skin cells. If you have milia around the eyes, your eye cream may be too rich, or you are slathering on too much. Prolonged sun exposure damages skin as well, increasing your risk of forming a thick epidermis and impeding cells from making their way out of the glands. The most frequent cause of milia around the mouth is the result of fluoride irritation from toothpaste.


Switch to a gel

If you are milia-prone around the eyes, start by reducing the amount of eye cream you are using. If your serum is a good one with great actives, you won't need more than a lentil-sized amount per eye. The next best advice I have is that you could consider switching from a cream to an eye gel, which runs the lowest risk of clogging pores and trapping protein beneath the epidermis. 


Gentle exfoliation

Regular exfoliation also combats milia, although aggressive exfoliation can actually traumatize skin and cause the bumps to appear. Vitamin A creams are effective exfoliator alternatives thanks to their retinol content so look for a well-formulated eye cream with retinol.


Professional treatments

A number of treatments, including microdermabrasion, fruit acid peels, or glycolic acid peels may take care of the problem. If the milia are persistent, the doctor may use a needle and comedone extractor to remove each individual bump, like surgical pimple popping (Source).

This does not necessarily mean that it is as simple as popping a pimple and that you should tackle your milia yourself. Milia may look like whiteheads, and it may sound simple to take care of them in the comfort of your own bathroom. However, it is important to remember that they exist under a layer of skin, unlike pimples which have risen to the surface. Prevention is the best course of action against milia, and treatment is best left in the hands of a trusted professional.


By Marta
This article first appeared in Truth in Aging.