BlogWhat is Milialar? Milia definition, causes, and removal

What is Milialar? Milia definition, causes, and removal

Milialar, also known as milk spots, are small, white cysts on your skin ¹. These cysts are filled pockets under the surface of your skin, usually found on your face, and are harmless.

Causes of Milia

Milia are caused by trapped dead skin cells that form cysts below the surface of your skin ¹. Your body naturally gets rid of dead skin cells by shedding them to make room for new cells to grow and take their place ¹. When your old skin cells don’t fall off of your body, new skin grows on top of them and traps them underneath ¹. Your dead skin cells harden and turn into cysts ¹.

Types of Milia

There are different types of milia including ¹ ²:
  • Neonatal Milia: Milia on newborn skin, common around the nose but can also appear on other parts of the face, scalp, or torso.
  • Juvenile Milia: Caused by a rare genetic disorder that causes abnormal cell growth.
  • Milia en Plaque: Associated with autoimmune skin disorders.
  • Multiple Eruptive Milia: A rare, aggressive form of milia.
  • Traumatic Milia: Caused by skin injury.

Symptoms of Milia

Some milia can be itchy or form on a raised patch of skin ¹. Milia affects the skin on your body and are often located on your face ¹.
Removal of Milia
Milia don’t need treatment because they’re not harmful ¹. If you don’t like how milia look on your skin, talk to your healthcare provider about removing them ¹. Treatment to remove milia could include ¹ ²:
  • Medications: Retinoids and glycolic acid can help your skin shed and replace cells faster.
  • Extraction: A healthcare provider makes tiny incisions on your skin and removes the plugs with tweezers and a magnifying glass.
  • Cryotherapy: A dermatologist can also use liquid nitrogen to freeze the milia.
  • Chemical peels: This treatment removes the top layer of skin.
  • Laser ablation: Your healthcare provider uses a laser to destroy the cysts.
  • Curettage: This procedure involves scraping and cauterizing the skin.
You shouldn’t try to squeeze or scrape off milia on your own, as you might do with a pimple ¹. This can scar your skin or cause an infection ¹.

Prevention of Milia

You can reduce your risk of developing certain types of milia that occur later in life by ¹ ³:
  • Using sunscreen and moisturizer: Milia tend to happen when you have too much sun exposure.
  • Avoiding thick creams or ointments: These can irritate your skin and clog your pores, preventing natural exfoliation.
  • Keeping your face clean: Dirt and sweat will build up and clog your pores.
  • Using steroid medications as directed by your doctor: Avoiding long-term steroid use can also help, as such extended use is a known cause of milia.

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