Milia are small, 1-2mm pearly white sub epidermal keratin filled cysts on the skin. They are most commonly found on the skin around the cheeks, nose, eyes, eyelids, forehead and chest. Milia are very common in newborn babies but can affect people of any age.
What are the types of Milia and what causes them?
There are several different types of Milia. They occur when the skins ability to naturally shed and exfoliate is impaired.
- Neonatal Milia. These are Milia that are seen in young babies soon after they are born. They are very common and are usually found around the nose area but may also occur on the scalp, cheeks, upper body and inside the mouth. They are thought to arise from sweat glands that aren't fully developed or mature. Around half of all babies develop Neonatal Milia. In fact, because they are so common, they are actually considered as normal in newborn babies.
- Primary Milia. These are Milia that can occur in both children and adults.
- Secondary Milia. These are Milia that develop in an area of skin, anywhere on the body, that has previously been damaged or injured. For example, after a burn or a blistering rash. The Milia develop as the skin heals and it is thought that damage to the sweat glands may be an underlying cause. Secondary Milia also sometimes develop after certain skin creams have been used - for example, corticosteroid skin creams.
- Milia en plaque. Milia of this type are extremely rare. The Milia develop on an inflamed, raised patch of skin known as a plaque which may be several centimetres across. The cause for Milia en plaque is not fully understood. It usually occurs behind the ears, on an eyelid, or on the cheeks or jaw area. This type of Milia tends to particularly affect middle-aged women.
- Multiple eruptive milia. The Milia appear in crops, or patches of Milia that develop over a period of weeks or months. The crops usually appear on the face, the upper arms and the upper trunk. Milia of this type are also extremely rare.
Treatment for Milia
Milia are harmless. In babies, they clear up after a few weeks however, in some adults, Milia can persist for months or sometimes longer. Secondary Milia are sometimes permanent. Because they normally clear by themselves, Milia do not usually need any treatment. Some people find milia unsightly and so opt for treatment. Milia may be removed using a fine needle and then squeezing, or pricking, out the contents. No anaesthetic is needed. It is not recommended to squeeze or try to treat Milia yourself. This can lead to skin damage and scarring or infection.
If Milia become very widespread and persistent, various other treatments may be suggested, usually by a skin specialist. They include:
- Cryotherapy: a type of treatment that freezes skin lesions. Where a patch of skin has changed in appearance, it is known as a skin lesion.
- Laser treatment.
- Dermabrasion: a procedure that removes the topmost layers of the affected skin.
- Chemical peeling: a treatment where a chemical is applied to the face to burn off skin lesions.
- Advanced Electrolysis: a treatment that pierces the Milia with a needle & uses an electric current to break up the Milia.
In the rare type of milia called milia en plaque, certain creams such as isotretinoin or tretinoin are sometimes suggested as treatment, or the antibiotic tablet, minocycline.
Contact the Claudia McGloin Clinic on 0719140728 for more information.