Milia is characterized by the appearance of tiny white cyst like formation on the skin. It is seen to occur in people of all age. Milia are formed when keratin is trapped in the outer layer of the skin, thus forming a cyst. These cyst starts from the base of a hair follicle or sweat gland.
Milia can be primary or secondary. When the keratin is entrapped under the skin and milia is formed, and then it is called primary milia. Primary milia are seen on the faces of adults and infants. Secondary milia occur when something clogs the ducts leading to the surface of the skin. Such condition occurs after an injury, blistering of the skin or after suffering from a burn. Primary and secondary milia look similar.
Who’s At Risk?
Milia is seen to occur to people of all ages, ethnicity and gender. They are very common among new born babies. Secondary milia appear on the skin of people who have had the following condition.
- – Skin condition such as bullous pemphigoid, epidermolysis bullosa and porphyria cutanea tarda which results in blistering of the skin.
- – People who have suffered from burns
- – Chronic skin damage due to sun exposure
- – Long term use of steroid creams
Signs and Symptoms:
Milia usually occurs as 1–2 mm dome-shaped bumps that are white- yellow in color and are not painful or itchy. Primary milia mostly occurs in the following area:
- – around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead.
- – in infants they also occur on the gums, palates insure the mouth. Around 85% infants go through this condition. It is known as Epstein’s pearls.
Secondary milia can occur anywhere in the body, particularly on the areas of the body that have had too much sun exposure.
Primary milia that is mostly found in infants do heal on its own. But, it may take several weeks to heal on its own. The milia occurring in adults last longer.
Do not try to attempt to remove the milia from the outer layer of the skin on your own. It may leave a scar which itself can take a while to heal.
When to Seek Medical Care
If these bumps drastically increase in number or if they look cosmetically unappealing, consult a dermatologist or your general physician for evaluation.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
For the occurrence of milia in infants, no treatment is necessary. It will heal on its own in due course. In adults, milia may or may not go away on its own. It can be recurring as well. Your doctor may treat you with any of the following methods:
- – Each milia bumps is pierced with a sterile scalpel and the tiny cyst is removed with a tool called comedone extractor.
- – He may prescribe you topical retinoid cream such as tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene.
- – Acid peels or microdermabrasion procedures can also be administered by the doctor.