Milia are skin growths on different parts of the body, especially around the eyes. They are formed when keratin, a protein in our skin, is trapped under with dead cells, forming cysts. While they may look like pimples or acne, they are unrelated.
Milia are often grouped together but may be solitary. A single cyst is called a milium.
They are relatively harmless but can be a source of worry. Naturally occurring milia are common in infants and children but may be seen in adults.
About half of all infants have milia at some point in the first few weeks of life. It is thought to be as a result of the immaturity of the structures in the skin layer responsible for producing sweat.
What Causes Milia In Adults?
In adults, milia may form due to other factors. This type is called secondary milia, here are some causes:
- Persistent milia from childhood
- Long term steroid cream use
- Long term use of harmful skin products
- Trauma to the skin, such as burns (like sunburn)
- Genetic or acquired skin blistering diseases,
- Skin infections, or a blister formation
While they may be unpleasant, they are not known to cause any trouble. Rarely, they may be swollen or inflamed but the resolution is swift.
How To Get Rid Of Milia Under Your Eyes
Generally, it is advised to avoid poking or picking at them. It often goes away after a few weeks and is pretty harmless. In some people, they may become red, irritated or bleed when grazed, especially by thick dry clothing.
Removing milia crudely may cause the site to bleed or form scars, which is more disconcerting. Here are some tips to help get rid of them.
1. Wash Your Face With A Mild Soap
This will ensure that the skin is not stripped of its naturally occurring microbes and oil. Harsher soaps may lead to skin breakages which will cause further damage by inviting disease-causing organisms to fester in the breaks.
Pat the area dry. Ensure you do not rub or scrub the skin.
2. Use Sunscreen
Sunburn or inflammation caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun may cause damage to your skin, causing more milia formation or the persistence of current milia. The rays cause your skin to become hard and leathery.
If you go out a lot in the sun, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor appropriate for your skin tone.
3. Use A Retinoid Cream
These creams contain Vitamin A which is essential for good skin health. When applied over the surface of the milia, it helps in the resolution of milia.
Almond oils are also noted to be helpful in milia resolution because they contain vitamins.
This rids your skin of irritants and dead cells that may cause milia formation.
It also leaves your skin smoother and sharper. Some agents are also useful for regulating keratin production thereby preventing milia formation. However, avoid excessive exfoliation as this may leave you open to skin infections.
5. Facial Steaming
Opening your skin pores to let out irritants may be beneficial in solving your milia problem. Set up your bathroom for steam formation by soaking in hot water. Let the steam touch your face and after a few minutes, dab your face dry with a towel. Be careful not to burn your skin with hot water. You should also avoid using this method in children.
6. Honey Mask
Honey masks have been shown to help reduce inflammation and reduce milia formation. They also have antimicrobial properties that protect your skin from foreign agents.
7. Rose Water
This is demineralized water with rose oil. It may help contain inflammation on your skin. You have to be careful in applying rose water to your face because it may irritate the eye if it gets in contact with it.
How Is Milia Diagnosed?
Your doctor is able to diagnose milia by just looking at it. If it is unclear to your doctor or there are other skin growths, a request is made for a small part of the skin (a biopsy) to be taken for further studies.
When To See Your Dermatologist
If milia persists, you may need to see your dermatologist. This is a sure way to be rid of milia. Your doctor may prescribe oral medicines and/or topical creams for your treatment.
If medical treatment using these agents is not satisfactory, surgical treatment may be embarked on. A very common procedure is deroofing. This is commonly done in the doctor’s office with no analgesia required. The milia are punctured with a needle and the contents are taken out. A paper clip may also be used.
Alternatively, liquid nitrogen may be used to freeze the milia (called cryotherapy). It is then cleared by your doctor. Laser ablation and the use of heat (diathermy) may also be employed but cryotherapy is more popular.
To conclude, milia are relatively harmless although they can be aesthetically displeasing. Several home remedies may be successfully attempted but if they persist, a visit to the dermatologist is recommended.
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