What Are Milia?

When we look in the mirror to inspect our skin, we are able to easily notice when things change. With so many acne-related spots that can occur, it is helpful to be able to recognize other skin lesions that may resemble acne but are not. This blog will help you to identify the small skin lesions known as milia.

What Are Milia?

Milia, or milium for a single lesion, are small cysts in the epidermal layer of the skin that contain keratin, which is a protein that your skin naturally makes to help support your skin to heal wounds. Keratin also has a role in keeping your nails and hair healthy.

These common cysts can occur in all age groups from infants to older adults. Milia occur in normal skin, they may arise in scars that result from some type of trauma, or in association with other types of certain scarring skin conditions.

What Do They Look Like?

Milia are characteristically about one to two millimeters in diameter and white to yellow in color. Sometimes milia can be mistaken for the closed comedones, or whiteheads, of acne. The difference is that a whitehead is a skin pore or hair follicle clogged with sebum (oil), dead skin cells and bacteria. Whiteheads are usually yellowish in appearance.

Unlike acne lesions, milia are a type of cyst in the skin. They may feel smooth, and when pressure is applied, you can sense that there is material inside of it. The most common area for milia to occur is on the face, particularly around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead.

How Are Milia Treated?

It is reassuring to know that milia are benign and usually asymptomatic. Treating milia is not always necessary as they are harmless. Sometimes they can resolve on their own. Most people seek removal for cosmetic concerns more than anything else. Unfortunately, the topical treatments that are widely used for acne will not have a significant effect on existing milia.

Since these are mini-cysts enclosed within a lining, some type of in-office procedure is recommended for removal. This can range in options from chemical peels, cryosurgery, and extractions.

Can Milia Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there are no sure-fire ways of preventing milia from forming. You may reduce your risk of developing them by:

  • Avoiding oil-based skin care products
  • Avoiding excessive sun exposure
  • Avoiding the use of topical steroids on the face longer than prescribed
  • Washing your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser
  • Using a topical retinoid, such as prescription tretinoin, consistently

How The Derm NP Can Help

The Derm NP is a unique dermatology practice that provides online dermatology consultations. Laura Collins, APRN ANP-BC, DCNP, ACTTP, the provider at The Derm NP, provides exceptional dermatological care. Her experience and enthusiasm for the dermatology field means that you are receiving expert care by a practitioner that loves her specialty and seeks to provide affordable access to care.

We provide care for non-urgent dermatological conditions via telehealth, through which we strive to provide top-notch care that considers your schedule. Contact us at (630) 233-9767 or thedermnp@thedermnp.com for an appointment to address your concern.

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