Milia Skin Treatment
Milia are formed when skin cells are trapped just beneath the skin’s surface. Except for the aesthetic annoyance these tiny white bumps can cause, milia do not hurt and are relatively harmless. Still, it is not fun to be the victim of milia under the eyes or on the eyelids or cheeks. Milia can affect both infants and adults, but the causes and treatments are different for each.
Milia and Babies
Do not be alarmed by the appearance of milia on your baby. Many infants are born with milia, and according to the Mayo Clinic, more than half of all babies suffer from milia. Milia are usually found on the nose, chin, cheeks or forehead, but may also appear on the limbs and quite possibly on the penis.
The cause of milia in infants is currently unknown and the treatment is simply to let it be. The Mayo Clinic recommends washing your baby’s skin with warm water daily and gently patting dry. Do not try to pop the tiny white bumps or apply any type of medicated cream or oil. Symptoms generally fade on their own within one month. If milia persist after three months, consult your pediatrician.
Causes of Milia in Adults
While there is no current hypothesis on the cause of infant milia, the causes of adult milia are numerous. Some people are genetically predisposed to milia, others need to re-examine their skin care regimen. Heavy eye creams, makeup or makeup remover is a common culprit. Lotions that are too oily can clog pores and trap skin cells within the surface layer of the skin, leading to milia. Any change in the environment, for example, new laundry detergent, cleaning products, etc., may stimulate the development of milia.
Here’s another reason to avoid sun exposure: Audrey Kunin, M.D. explains that excessive sun exposure leads to premature aging. As you age, it becomes more difficult for the skin to naturally exfoliate and remove impurities. Proper exfoliation is necessary to avoid milia.
Milia in adults may also signal more serious skin conditions, such as Porphyria Cutanea Tarda. Other symptoms of blistering disorders include blisters and unexplained hair growth on the face and backs of the hands or knuckles.
Treatments for Milia
If you suspect a makeup or skin care product might be causing a recent outbreak of milia, discontinue use. Choose cosmetics that are labeled non-comedogenic and oil-free. To stimulate exfoliation, choose a cleanser and lotion that contain either alpha-hydroxy acids or glycolic acid. Gentle exfoliation of the skin helps reduce milia. Try applying a retinol lotion once a day to encourage further exfoliation.
You can supplement your daily cleanser and lotion with an exfoliating scrub every few days. At home microdermabrasion kits and facial peels can also be effective tools for improving milia. Your skin care regimen should always contain a sunscreen, regardless of whether you are prone to milia.
If you get antsy trying to deal with the milia on your own, a visit to your dermatologist is recommended. Your doctor may continue a treatment program with a prescribed cleanser and microdermabrasion or chemical peels. Bear in mind that any treatment program takes time and results may not be noticeable for at least a month.
For a fast fix, there is always extraction, which should only be performed by a licensed practitioner. Skin is prepped with rubbing alcohol and then opened using a sterile needle or lancet. A comedone extractor is used to apply the necessary pressure to pop the milia out. The procedure does not require anesthesia, but it may cause slight stinging.
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