If you’ve ever noticed these tiny, hard spots anywhere on your face, possibly presenting a blue tint to them, you should know that they are most likely not zits or whiteheads and that you should not try and pop them!
That being said, they are small pockets filled with dead skin known as milia.
Dermatologist Farah Moustafa explains that “Milia are made of keratin. They commonly develop on the cheeks, on eyelids and on the nose. As your skin exfoliates old cells naturally so that new ones can then develop, the cells can get trapped, harden and become cystic.”
They are also referred to as “milk spots” sometimes, due to the fact that they are the most common in babies.
In fact, the Cleveland Clinic says they are so common that around half of all infants have them at birth.
However, that is not to say that they will not appear at any other age.
So why does milia appear in adults?
Dermatology Advisor mentions that there is a variety of milia, the most common form in adults being known as primary milia.
Two more less common types are caused by trauma to the skin and appear in clusters, respectively.
Aside from simply appearing during skin exfoliation, milia can also occur as a result of some other factors.
Another dermatologist by the name of Joshua Zeichner says that “They may be due to sun damage or from heavy skin care products.”
More often than not, oil-based cleansers and makeup can be to blame if they clog the pores.
As mentioned before, another possible cause can be a rash or injury but also a prolonged use of corticosteroids or different medical conditions.
Dr. Moustafa shares that “Milia can be a secondary symptom of a blistering skin condition, for instance a burn. They can happen because of an autoimmune disease or genetic condition as well.”
At the same time, you are more prone to developing milia if you do not clean your skin regularly enough or if you have dandruff or rosacea.
Thankfully, Dr. Zeichner points out that most often than not, there is no reason for concern as “Milia are completely harmless and are strictly a cosmetic issue.”
They tend to go away on their own but if they’ve been there for a while and you can’t wait to get rid of them, avoid “milia removers” you may see online since experts make it clear they are not effective.
Instead, follow these tips:
- Never pop them.
Dr. Moustafa advises to “Never poke or prod milia. And avoid scrubbing it with any kind of gritty exfoliant.”
- Choose gentle cleansing.
Just wash your face following the American Academy of Dermatology’s advice.
More precisely, use a gentle cleanser on your fingertips, massage it all over the skin and wash with some lukewarm water.
- Try retinoid cream.
Dr. Zeichner explains that “This can help by removing the cells in the outer skin layer, encouraging the eventual release of the milia from your skin.”
- Make sure to always apply sunscreen.
Whether you have milia or not, this is a must!
- Try professional removal.
If nothing else works, you might want to visit the dermatologist for a removal session, during which they will create “an opening with a needle or a scalpel blade,” as per Dr. Zeichner.