Beauty 101

Everything You Should Know About Milia Or 'Milk Spots'

Dr.Ingky Dermatologist
Everything You Should Know About Milia Or 'Milk Spots'

What Are Milia Seeds? 

Milia seeds are small white or yellowish cysts that can appear anywhere on your face, including on your eyelids or under your eyes. Milia can occur elsewhere on your body as well. They are sometimes called milk spots or oil seeds and tend to occurring clusters.

Milia are very common among new-borns. In fact, nearly half of full-term new-born babies have at least some facial milia. But milia can also affect teens and adults. In most cases, milia do not become infected. But they are a cosmetic concern that most people want removed.

Types of Milia

Milia come in five different types: neonatal, primary, traumatic, milia en plaque, and multiple eruptive milia. 

Neonatal milia affect new-borns. The small bumps are often present from birth. You might find them on the scalp, upper body, inside the mouth, and, especially, the nose and other areas of the face. They differ from neonatal acne in that they're uniform in size and unaccompanied by redness.

Primary is the most common form of milia, which can affect any age. You find this type on the eyelids, cheeks, forehead, and even genitals. Primary milia sometimes disappear on their own.

Traumatic milia occur after some damage to the skin clogs the sweat ducts. The trauma is usually a type of burn, either from touch or from the sun, or blisters that occur because of an allergic reaction. In some rare cases, laser resurfacing or dermabrasion can cause them.

Two types of milia occur in clusters. One is the rare condition called milia en plaque, which presents as broad, flat patches raised above the rest of the skin. Multiple eruptive milia are also rare and also present in clusters. However, this type of milia isn't raised into a flat patch.

THREE Interesting Facts About Milia Seeds

Milia seeds are not acne to pop

First things first, don't ever try popping or squeezing a milium (Milium is the singular of milia. So, you have one milium or many milia).

The contents of milia are not fluid like the contents of an acne. Typical acnes are filled with a soft core of dead skin cells, sebum, and pus. When you put pressure on a pustule, the fluid contents flow from the pore.

Unlike an acne, the white lump inside a milium is very hard. It's made of a plug of keratinized dead skin cells that have become trapped just below the surface of the skin. Because milia form under a thin layer of skin and not in the pore (like acne do) there is no opening in the skin by which the plug could escape anyway. 

Milia seeds are not the sign of cholesterol

Milia are often confused with Xanthelasma. Xanthelasma is a well-circumscribed flat or slightly elevated yellowish growth that typically occurs on or around the eyelids. It is made up of cholesterol deposits that accumulate underneath the skin and is usually an obvious clinical diagnosis. Xanthelasma is the one that shows an early warning sign that cholesterol has started to build up in your blood vessels.

You can’t really prevent Milia from happening

Sadly, milia is not something that you can prevent from happening. But not to worry, there are few things that you can do to cure them. 

The Reasons Behind Milia Seeds

Your body sheds dead skin cells to make way for fresh new ones. Milia happen when the dead skin cells don’t slough away. Instead, they get caught under the new skin, harden, and form a milium. Milia can also happen because of:

  • Skin damage from something like a rash, an injury, or sun exposure
  • Long-term use of steroid medications
  • Your genes
  • An autoimmune condition‌

Babies are most likely to get milia. Because their skin is still learning how to replace itself, they sometimes have milia and baby acne. 

Are Milia Seeds Harmful?

Milia usually are not treated, because they are not harmful. Adolescents and adults might be concerned about what milia do to their appearance. In these cases, there are ways that a doctor can remove them.

You should not try to squeeze or scrape off milia on your own, as you might do with an acne. This can scar the skin or cause an infection. But there are things you can do at home that can help.

How to Remove Milia Seeds?

Don’t pick, poke, or try to remove them

If milia on your face or your child’s face are irritating, don’t pick at the affected area. Trying to remove milia can cause the bumps to bleed, scab, and scar. Scraping the skin can also introduce germs to the area. This can cause infection.

In the case of babies under 6 months old, the best thing to do for milia is to leave the bumps alone. If the bumps are concerning you, see your child’s paediatrician. 

Cleanse the area

Make sure you’re washing your face with a gentle, paraben-free soap every day. Any soap that isn’t mild will strip your face of the oils it needs to stay balanced and healthy. After washing, pat your skin dry instead of letting it air dry. This will help prevent your skin from chafing or drying out.

Gently exfoliate the area

Gentle skin exfoliation might help keep your skin free of irritants that cause milia. Some exfoliating agents keep the keratin in your skin from overproducing. Look for exfoliating cleansers that contain salicylic acid, citric acid, or glycolic acid. Exfoliating too much can irritate the skin, so don’t do it every day. Start by using an exfoliating cleanser once a week and see if it improves your milia.

Try a facial peel

Facial peels that contain exfoliating ingredients may also help but use with caution. Using a facial peel that’s too strong for your skin can cause more milia to appear.

If you’ve already been using facial peels as part of your skin care routine, it’s probably safe to continue doing so. It might even help clear up milia. If you can, stick to peels that have salicylic acid or glycolic acid. If you’re new to facial peels, don’t use them just to get rid of milia bumps. Your skin might be sensitive to the ingredients in a facial peel. This can worsen milia.

Use a retinoid cream

Some researchers recommend topical retinoid creams to get rid of milia. Retinoid creams contain vitamin A. This vitamin is essential to the health of your skin. Use any product that contains retinoid or its lower-strength form, retinol, just once per day. Put it on when your face is clean and dry. 

When using a retinoid or retinol cream, it’s essential to use sunscreen every day. They make your skin more susceptible to skin damage caused by sun exposure.

Opt for a light facial sunscreen

You should already be wearing sunscreen every day to protect the skin on your face from ultraviolet rays. An additional benefit of the right sunscreen can be a decrease in skin irritation that causes milia. Look for a sunscreen specifically designed for use on the face. Make sure the SPF is 30 or higher. If your skin is very sensitive to the sun, consider using a product with an SPF of 100.

The most skin-friendly sunscreens will have mineral oil as their base as opposed to other oils that may clog the skin. Read the ingredients of your sunscreen carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain anything you’re allergic or sensitive to. 

 How to Prevent the Growth of Milia Seeds Around Your Eyes? 

While there is no way to prevent milia from developing there are a few things you can do to help minimize the risk of its appearance. One of the most common reasons we develop milia is because of skin damage from sun exposure. Always wear sunscreen, all year round and even when it's overcast. 

Most milia bumps really will resolve on their own after a few weeks, particularly in babies. However, this isn’t often the case for adults with milia. If your baby has recurring milia outbreaks, or if milia don’t go away, you may need to see a dermatologist. Sometimes a dermatologist will use a tiny needle to manually remove the milia. This will quickly heal the affected area.

Would you like to know more about skin health? We are here to help! Skynfyx is run by a group of skin doctors and skincare experts who want everybody to achieve flawless skin at the cheapest possible cost. Skynfyx also can customize a skincare range just for your skin condition.

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