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Milia are tiny white keratin-filled bumps on the skin

Milia are tiny keratin filled cysts that can develop on the skin on the face. They are most commonly seen in newborns, however these tiny white bumps can also develop in adults as well.

“Milia tend to appear on the face, on the eyelids, upper cheeks and nose area,” notes Dr. Miriam Hanson, a board-certified Dermatologist in Austin, Texas. Patients often confuse these spots with confused with congested pores, acne lesions and even warts or other viral infections on the skin. Unfortunately, these bumps come with adverse health effects beyond their lack of aesthetic appeal.

“In infants, milia tend to disappear on their own over time as the skin develops and naturally exfoliates,” says Dr. Hanson. In adults, they often require treatment to get them to resolve.

Topical therapy is usually a good first line for these skin lesions. Vitamin A preparation like retinol or retin-A like products can help. Other keratolytic or exfoliating agents like salicylic and glycolic acid, found in skin care products and chemical peels, can often remove the top layers of the skin and allow these milia cysts to resolve on their own. These agents will often also prevent more milia from forming.

Other treatment options for milia generally include extraction and electrodessication. “A fine needle can be used to destroy or open the outer wall of the milia. The contents can then be expressed and removed, usually with a specialized tool or extractor,” explains Dr. Hanson. The affected area heals leaving clear, unblemished skin. Electrodessication employs a specialized needle to deliver electric current to cauterize the intended area. This results in the strategic destruction of the milia cyst and allows regrowth of healthy skin.

Milia should not be considered permanent spots on your skin, and are easily treated. “The results of treatment are immediate, and the finished product is definitely appreciated by patients,” claims Dr. Hanson. Post-treatment there may be a slight redness of the treated area, but it will subside and as fresh clear skin appears!

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