Milia: White Pimple-Like Bumps That Grow on the Skin
Milia are small milky-white or light yellow bumps that appear around the eye, forehead, above the lips, and on the cheeks. Milia that grow on the genitalia are often mistakenly assumed to be STDs. Milia do not affect everybody, but they do affect men and women of all ages. They are somewhat mysterious, and not believed to be caused by poor hygeine. They form when dead skin cells do not completely slough off the skin and remain trapped in a pocket of skin.
In more scientific terms, milia are benign keratin-filled cysts that grow just under the epidermis. They are commonly found on newborn babies but, as mentioned above, they can also affect anyone of any age or race.
Milia on Babies' Faces
If your baby's face sprouts these mysterious white bumps, don't panic! They're very common; some babies even have them at birth. Milia that grow on babies usually don't last for more than six weeks. Milia may form because the oil gland—also known as the sebaceous gland—may not yet be fully developed. Milia occur in up to fifty percent of infants and are considered normal.
Whatever you do, don't try to break or pop them! This could lead to an infection. Normally, milia go away on their own. If they persist for more than a few weeks or seem to be infected, you should visit your baby's doctor.
Cause and Prevention of Milia
Milia can be caused by a few things:
- Certain hair or skin care products can prevent dead skin cells from shedding completely. Stick to non-comedogenic beauty products to prevent milia forming from trapped dead skin.
- Milia can be caused by sun damage. Wear a light sunscreen or a sun hat when outdoors to prevent them.
- To remove the dead skin cells that cause milia, exfoliate your skin regularly with a scrub or chemical exfoliant.
- Genetics may play a role in making one prone to milia. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about this other than to take care of your skin to minimize their occurrence.
- Some people experience fluoride irritation from toothpaste which may cause milia to grow around the mouth.
This is it for a brief introduction of milia. While they may be unsightly, they are ultimately harmless. Again, if you notice anything unusual about milia, such as redness, pain, or swelling, go to a doctor to make sure it's not something more serious.