WHAT CAUSES MILIA?
Milia occur when dead skin cells clump together and get trapped under the skin’s surface, forming small, hard cysts. It’s estimated that nearly 50% of infants in the United States get milia, in part because their young skin is still “learning” to exfoliate. As their skin matures, the milia will disappear on their own, no treatment necessary. Doctors don’t consider infant milia a problem, and rarely prescribe treatment for it. Parents may fnd the bumps unsightly, but the baby isn’t bothered by them, and they have no impact on the baby’s health.
Adults can get two forms of milia, most often seen on the cheeks and forehead: primary and secondary. Primary is the same type seen in babies, caused by skin cells that build up in the pore lining because they just didn’t shed properly. Secondary milia occur when a skin condition or infection (such as herpes) that leads to blistering actually damages the pore lining. Burns or severe rashes can increase the number of skin cells trapped under the skin’s surface, resulting in milia that form even after the trigger has faded.
Sun damage is a contributing factor to milia because it makes skin rough and leathery, so it’s more difcult for dead cells to rise to the skin’s surface and shed normally. Clogs will ensure milia show up, and as mentioned they tend
to stick around.
Many people believe heavy moisturizers, foundations, or makeup in general are responsible for the problem, but that’s highly unlikely. Given that 50% of all babies get milia, and men do as well, it clearly isn’t related to skincare
or makeup products. Of course, if you’re still concerned, you can experiment with changing your product selection or application method to see what works for you.
TREATING AND PREVENTING MILIA
Because milia often go away on their own without treatment, being patient and waiting it out is an option—but waiting is defnitely not for everyone!
Because milia form when the skin’s natural exfoliation process malfunctions, using a targeted exfoliating treatment with salicylic acid on a regular basis will immediately improve exfoliation. It may also allow the bump to dissolve on its own (relatively quickly, too) and prevent new ones from forming.
If using a leave-on BHA exfoliant doesn’t help, then you might consider seeing a dermatologist who can tell you which type of milia you have and perhaps even remove them right there in the ofce. Using a needle or a tiny lancing utensil, a dermatologist can easily remove the milia, leaving very little damage to skin and ensuring a fast healing time.
SKINCARE FOR TREATING MILIA
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