Around half of new born babies are known to have milia on the face – the small white cysts, with little bumps beneath the surface of the skin. The skin condition is not exclusive to babies but can be observed in individuals of all ages. While in most instances, the cysts are known to disappear without any medical intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to look at options to speed up the process. Here are simple tips on how to get rid of milia effectively, and this includes medical interventions for faster results.

What is milia and how to get rid of milia?

Before we look at how to get rid of milia lets first have a deeper understanding of the condition and the different types. Commonly formed when keratin is trapped beneath the skin, the tiny cyst is either white or yellow in color. Each milium typically forms at the base of hair follicles, and milia are classified as either primary or secondary. The former refers to the cyst formation attributed to trapped keratin in hair follicle/sweat gland. Primary milia generally forms on the eyelids, the forehead and the cheeks. It is also known to occur in the genital area. Secondary milia refers to the formation of the cysts as a result of burns, injuries or blisters on the skin. It is generally hard to distinguish between the two, as the size and appearance of the cysts are similar.

What are the different types of milia?

In addition to the above classification of primary or secondary milia, the cysts are also known by various types. For instance, Neonatal milia refers to the formation of the cysts in new born babies with the highest prevalence among all age groups. These cysts are known to resolve naturally in a few weeks from the time of first appearing on the skin. While the cysts form mainly on the nose of babies, it is also possible for milia to form on other parts of the body, including the inside of the mouth, the whole face, torso and the head. It is important to understand that milia and acne are often referred interchangeably, though the two are entirely different skin conditions.

Before we look at steps on how to get rid of milia lets look at the other types of milia. Milia en plaque refers to the condition where multiple milia combine to form a raised area of the skin that is different from the areas that are not affected. The raised patch is easy to identify, owing to the border around the patch. The patch is generally seen on the eyelids, the jaw portion, the cheeks, and the area behind the ears. The condition affects people of all ages, with higher prevalence witnessed among women of middle age. The condition is not common, unlike neonatal milia and is sometimes attributed to other skin conditions.

Traumatic milia refers to the outbreak of cysts as a result of injury. Belonging to the category of secondary milia, the cysts are often the result of burns, blisters, and allergies. The condition also occurs when individuals undergo certain procedures, such as dermabrasion, laser resurfacing and exposure to harsh sunlight. Another form of secondary milia is the formation of cysts as a result of medication. For instance, certain topical applications can result in the formation milia. Steroids are the most common cause for the outbreak of cysts on the skin.

Another type of primary milia is a rare form, known as multiple eruptive milia. This typically involves the formation of cysts over an extended period, in the same area. The cysts generally form on the upper part of the body, and the face. A distinct characteristic of this type is the itching sensation associated with the cysts.

Common symptoms associated with milia

As we look at methods on how to get rid of milia here are symptoms that may be observed in individuals with the condition. Some of the symptoms are often similar to the symptoms associated with other skin conditions. It is therefore necessary to be able to clearly discern the difference and understand the nature of the skin condition. The observed symptoms include the formation of comedones that are similar to those seen in individuals with acne. Similarly, the formation of cysts that are similar to seborrheic keratosis that is generally linked to signs of aging are also possible symptoms in milia. These spots are wart like in nature and are often seen in aged individuals. The most common symptom are the cysts that filled with fluid and appear as white or yellowish bumps on the skin. Another characteristic shared by milia is Syringomas, the little tumors in the sweat ducts. The appearance is the same, despite being different in nature. Finally, individuals with milia are also likely to experience outbreak of lesions on the skin that contain fat – a condition known as xanthelasma. Generally linked to individuals with high levels of cholesterol, the visible symptoms of both conditions may appear similar.

How to get rid of milia – clinical treatment options

As mentioned earlier, the possible methods of getting rid of milia include home remedies and clinical treatment options. Certain methods are highly effective in managing the condition, whenever required. For instance, cryotherapy involves a procedure wherein the cysts are frozen by exposing the same to liquid nitrogen, following which the milia resolve. However, this procedure may result in some sort of swelling/inflammation that may last for a couple of days. Another method is curettage which involves the physical removal of the milia by a trained specialist after the area has been administered local/topical anaesthesia. The open skin is later sealed off with a hot wire, that can result in scarring. Yet another common method used to manage the condition involves a procedure called de-roofing. Similar to the previous procedure, this involves the use of a needle or a blade to physically remove the milia. This is another specialist procedure performed by trained and experienced medical professionals. The final clinical option is the use of oral antibiotics that are effective in treating specific milia types. For instance, milia en plaque is best handled by oral antibiotics that help resolve the condition without any scarring that occurs in all the above methods.

Practical and effective tips on how to get rid of milia

While medical/clinical methods of intervention are available for handling milia, there are simple and effective methods that can be practised at home to treat the condition. While the visible symptoms themselves are known to resolve in around 8 or more weeks, these methods will help speed up the process. For instance, the use of steam to open up the clogged pores is considered as an effective method. This can be performed in the comfort of your home and exposing the affected area to steam. Other tips on how to get rid of milia include exfoliation of the skin. This is generally a regular skin care procedure that will help to bring the glow back to the skin. By exfoliating the skin, the comedones/papules will resolve faster as the dead skin cells are cleansed, unclogging the pores. It is to be remembered that exfoliation needs to be balanced, in such a manner so not to cause irritation to the skin through excessive exfoliation.

Among the other tips on how to get rid of milia, cleaning is regarded as a simple yet equally effective option. This involves the use of a mild soap which will ensure that the skin is not irritated. The best choice would be to use special soaps that are intended for use on sensitive skin. Similarly, the use of suitable vitamin A topical skin creams are considered as an option. While retinoids are generally used for managing acne outbreak, the similarity in the symptoms makes the topical applications a good choice for managing milia. Finally, the use of sunscreen lotions are also considered as a good protective method to prevent the outbreak of milia among adults. Most of the above methods are not to be used on babies or children. Other commonly used home remedies include the use of ingredients that have proven antibacterial properties. For instance, topical applications made of a mix of honey, cinnamon and rose are generally used to manage skin conditions. These solutions/applications may help to a certain extent in dealing with certain symptoms of milia.

What needs to be avoided when treating milia?

Most individuals typically tend to use force on skin eruptions in an effort to remove the formation. However, this does not solve the problem and will most likely aggravate the condition. Individuals tend to prick or squeeze minor skin eruptions and this includes cysts. This needs to be avoided as the outcomes could be the exact opposite of the intended outcomes. Such actions can possibly result in scarring of the area, while increasing the possibility of infections in the skin.

Diagnostic methods for identifying milia

By virtue of the visible symptoms, special diagnosis are generally not required for determining the outbreak of milia. Doctors easily identify milia by looking at the skin condition, the formation of the paules and the comedones. The size, the area, and the type of cysts are often enough for a doctor to distinguish between milia and other skin conditions. As mentioned earlier, some of the symptoms are similar to those of other skin conditions, yet milia can be discerned through various parameters.

While opting for clinical treatment options it needs to be borne in mind that milia do not cause any scarring on the skin. Once the cysts resolve naturally, the skin is restored to its normal appearance. In very rare cases of milia, including the type that repeatedly occurs on the same area, some difference in the skin is a possible outcome. For all other types of milia, the skin is restored to its normal condition. The use of clinical methods that involved physical removal of the cysts are likely to cause some kind of scarring. It is therefore advised to evaluate the options and the outcomes before choosing one. As the size of the milia are tiny, the scaring from the procedures are also likely to be miniature in size, and can be masked with suitable cosmetic applications. However, scarring is a clear possibility and individuals are advised to weigh options before opting for any procedure.

Sun damage is one of the major factors in the formation of milia and it is essential to take adequate precautionary measures to ensure that exposure to the sun does not cause secondary milia. The use of exfoliants as a part of skin procedures are a good option to prevent the outbreak of milia and other skin conditions.


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