Health

What are milia and is it a dangerous skin problem

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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If those yellowish and white bumps on your face and around the skin are freaking you out, hold on! These are Milia and they are quite normal!

Have you ever noticed small bumps under your eyes? Or may be around your mouth, nose, or anywhere in your skin? In derma lingo, these yellow or white coloured bumps are known as Milia.

Relax! There is nothing to be scared about, because these are absolutely normal. With age, you will find them more common but they can be treated easily. But, what is the right time to tackle it, and the way to tackle it is something you MUST know. That’s why we have got you some crucial trivia on Milia. Come and give it a read.

What is Milia?

According to Dr Nivedita Dadu, a renowned dermatologist and founder and chairman of Dr Nivedita Dadu’s Dermatology Clinic, Milia are actually keratin-filled cysts that form just under the skin and look-like white or yellowish bumps on the surface.

milia
Milia might be inevitable but you can fix it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Milia are found on the skin of people of all ages. They are formed when keratin, the substance produced by the skin, becomes entrapped beneath the outer layer of the skin, which then leads to the formation of a tiny cyst. It is formed at the base of a hair follicle or sweat gland.

What are the causes of Milia?

Milia can be categorized into two types – primary or secondary. There are several factors that cause milia in adults. It usually occurs due to dead skin building up, and getting trapped in the pores near the surface of the skin. If the build-up doesn’t get expelled naturally, it can become a small cyst.

The other type of milia, secondary milia usually appears when something clogs the sweat ducts. “This is usually caused by some kind of skin trauma or infection such as laser treatments, chemical peels, and herpes, or many lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, smoking, poor personal hygiene, using oil-based beauty products in excess, and long-term use of steroids,” elaborates Dr Dadu.

How can you get them treated?

You can try out some simple hacks at home that can help with Milia:

  • Clean the affected area daily. Use a mild soap to prevent skin irritation.
  • Use steam to open the pores of the skin.
  • Exfoliate the area of milia regularly. Avoid over-exfoliating, as daily exfoliation can irritate the skin.
  • Use sunscreen of SPF more than 50. High-protection sunscreens are very helpful to treat milia.
  • Using topical retinoids, these are creams or gels derived from vitamin A. This helps to treat acne and other skin issues such as milia.
double cleansing
Wash your face twice a day. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You can also opt for some professional treatments on the recommendation of your dermatologist:

    • Deroofing is a treatment that sees a sterile needle pick out the contents of the
      cyst.
    • Chemical peels can help exfoliate the first layer of skin away, unearthing a new layer of skin to come through.
    • Laser ablation uses a small laser to focus on the affected areas and remove the cysts.

Can they be prevented?

“If you keep getting milia under your eyes, it’s best to change your skincare routine. Rich moisturizers and eye creams can clog the skin, which results in blocked follicles and the appearance of Milia,” says Dr Dadu.

Here are some tips to steer clear of Milia:

  • As we age, our body naturally loses some of its ability to eliminate the dry skin cells. So, regularly clean, exfoliate and moisturize your skin.
  • Avoid extra-rich moisturizers and use gentle exfoliation products such as lactic acid. Lactic acid is a larger molecule, so it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deep and can be less irritating.
  • Retinol can also help to prevent the appearance of Milia, as it reduces oil production and increases skin cell turnover.
  • When milia is associated with other skin conditions or injuries, swift treatment may keep them from appearing.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun.
  • Avoid the use of thick creams or oil-based products.
  • Practice gentle exfoliation once a week.
  • Milia can sometimes arise, following the use of a chemical peel. So, prevent any issues by applying a topical retinoid before the procedure. However, retinoids can cause dark spots or excessive irritation when used in combination with chemical peels.
scrub
Exfoliation is a must for healthy skin. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Are they dangerous?

“No, it’s not dangerous in most cases,” assured Dr Dadu.

Basically, Milia are benign in nature, and taking care of your skin regularly can avoid them too. So, pamper your skin to avoid Milia mayhem.

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