Got flesh-toned bumps around your eyes? They might be milia

When we see bumpy white spots on our face, we often automatically assume them to be acne. But hands off the anti-acne products first! Those spots might be milia.

What are milia?

Milia (singular form: milium) are those hard round white spots, usually around 1-2 mm, that can pop up near the eye area, cheeks, nose, and chin. Unlike pimples, these aren't painful (except when you look at them) and you can't pop them. Though they aren't harmful, they give your skin a rough texture.

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They are also called “baby acne” as the condition can be found in most babies though they go away within a few weeks. In adults, milia forms when our skin’s natural exfoliation process fails and the dead skin gets trapped under the surface. The main causes of milia are oils from skincare products that can clog the pores, genes, skin trauma, and cigarette smoking.

How do you get rid of milia?

As with pimples, some people try to "pop" milia on their own with a pin (yikes). We definitely don’t recommend that! In this instance, DIY is definitely a bad idea as it can put you at risk for scarring, infection, or even a poked eye. Go to a dermatologist for proper removal, especially if milia is on the delicate eye area. The procedure involves lancing to break through the skin’s surface. Once the skin is opened, the trapped skin cells are gently coaxed out with the use of tweezers or comedone extractors.

Depending on your milia situation, your dermatologist may recommend the use of retinoids or chemical peels/dermabrasion.

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How do we prevent milia?

There is no foolproof way to prevent milia but regular exfoliation definitely helps. Whether you use homemade recipes or store-bought scrubs, take time to exfoliate at least once a week. If your eye area is prone to milia, check with a dermatologist for an exfoliant that's safe to use in that area.

In terms of skincare, you can look for products with salicylic acid as they are effective in clearing out the skin and avoiding trapped dead skin cells. Getting a regular facial or a chemical peel may also help.

You can also try switching to a lighter formula for your moisturizer and eye cream to check if they may be the culprits. Products like creams and some makeup may contain rich emollients with heavy formulations that contribute to the accumulation of dead skin cells.

Do you have milia? How do you deal with it? 

Sources: Byrdie, Renee Rouleu, Paula's Choice, XO Vain, Livestrong