I had pretty good skin when I was a teenager--except for these hard, whitehead-like things sprinkled across my cheeks. Eventually, after some freaked-out Googling,\ I discovered what they were: milia.
Milia are hard, white, keratin-filled cysts that form just under the skin. They typically occur when dead skin becomes trapped just under its surface. (Your own skin is trapped in itself--Skinception!) While they aren’t big or unsightly in the way that pimples can be, when you have them, you definitely know they’re there.
Milia are very common in newborn babies (almost half of them get them, though they go away within a few weeks). But some unlucky adults get them, too. They’re typically about 1 to 2 millimeters, white, and stubborn. While many sources claim that they clear up on their own, mine required medical intervention. You’ll find them in such areas as around your nose, eyes, and cheeks, but sometimes they’ll also appear in other places, including on your body.
As soon as I learned what they were, I became interested in knowing how to get rid of or prevent them from forming. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a solid way of preventing them and, because they are under the epidermis, you can’t squeeze them out like a regular pimple. Through research, I discovered a few methods of removal.
This is the most common method of dealing with milia. You use a thin, sterile needle to prick each individual milium and squeeze out the little hard bump. I can say from personal experience that this method works and I’ve never experienced any long-term scarring. Many aestheticians and dermatologists can do it for you.
Another easy and effective way to banish milia is by topically applying a small dot of retinoid cream to the little bumps. Again, my personal experience with this is great. At my dermatologist’s suggestion, I used a small amount of Tretinoin on my cheeks to clear up the affected area. The only problem with this is that some of my milia were on my eyelid, which isn’t a good place to apply retinoid creams.
If your milia is persistent, you may opt for chemical peels or dermabrasion.
I find that, once I am able to clear up an area, as long as I keep exfoliating, I don’t experience a recurrence.
Since Milia are very small and barely noticeable, many opt to leave them be. However, if you’d prefer to be rid of them, your best bet is to consult with a skin specialist to confirm your diagnosis and discuss the best way of successfully treating the little buggers.
- Do you or your loved ones suffer from milia?
- Have you ever lanced your own face at home? Be honest.
- Did you also think babies just had odd bumpy skin?