A skin phenomenon that many people experience, but are often confused by is milia. They are very similar in appearance to pimples or a blemish, milia can frequently be mistaken for acne, but are actually a bit different. To help you spot the difference, we’ve got answers to all of your questions, plus some tips for troubleshooting.
What is milia and why does it happen?
When identifying milia, you’ll typically notice a small white or yellow bump, or in some cases multiple bumps, caused by an entrapment of keratin (aka skin cells) sitting below the skins surface. What differentiates these bumps from acne is that unlike a regular pimple, milia are cystic, lacking access to a proper pore opening, and thus the trapped cells aren’t able to surface, as they normally would during a breakout.
These harmless, yet persistent little bumps tend to show up near the eyelids, forehead, and tops of the cheeks. They can be caused by several factors including a lack of water in the skin, too many pore clogging cosmetics or skincare, or using ingredient formulas that aren’t right for your skin type. Milia can also appear after injury to the skin such as a burn or an aggressive treatment.
What can you do to prevent milia?
If you’ve recently started experiencing a milia outbreak, the first place to look may be at the products you are using. Formulas that contain congestion causing ingredients like petroleum, lanolin, and coconut oil are examples that can sometimes be to blame, so it is best to always look for products that are labeled as “non-comedogenic,” which are specifically designed not to clog the pores.
Additionally, a holistic skincare routine that includes consistent gentle exfoliation, hydration, and moisturizing ingredients will help the skin function optimally, making it harder for milia to become entrapped in the first place. Our Glow Jar Beauty Maracuja Under Eye Oil is non comedogenic and very lightweight.
What treatments work to address milia?
When milia show up, a key thing to note is that they are not extractable, so you’ll want to ABSOLUTELY want to avoid trying to pop or pick at them, which will result in damage to your skin.
Instead, a good first step is to work towards restoring proper moisture levels in the skin with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and other hydrating products. From there, you can start to add exfoliation with an alpha-hydroxy acid or enzyme, as well as ingredients that encourage cellular turnover such as Vitamin A or retinol.
If your skincare products fail to yield the right results and you’re still struggling with milia, it may be helpful to visit a dermatologist or esthetician who is able to perform milia extractions. Using a specialized tool or lancet to create a tiny puncture and extract the cyst, a trained professional should be able to remove entrapped milia without causing damage to the skin.