Millum (in plural milia) are tiny cysts filled with keratin, most commonly found on the face above the cheekbones and under the eyes. These white/yellowish bumps will frequently look like whiteheads, but the cause and treatment are very different. Millia can appear at any age, gender, or ethnicity. That said, millia seem to be more common in people with excessive sun exposure and people with dry skin. Millia appear on 40–50% of healthy newborn babies. These milia will disappear spontaneously and do not require any treatment.
What is the difference between whiteheads and milia?
Whiteheads appear when the oil skin glands (sebaceous glands) are clogged with oil and dead skin cells.
On the other hand, Milia develops when keratin (the skin protein) is trapped under the upper epidermis (the upper skin layer). As a layer of skin cells traps this keratin, it would not break easily and can stay on the skin for a few weeks or months.
What causes milia?
The exact causes of the formation of milia are unknown. One possible reason will be the lack of natural skin exfoliation in those areas. In adults, It is believed that lack of sleep, smoking, and heavy creams or oils on the skin, specifically around the eyes and lips, can increase the tendency to have milia.
How to prevent milia?
There is no simple solution for milia prevention. The first should be using a light moisturizer over the areas with the pimples, avoiding heavier cosmetic products.
Very light peeling agents like salicylic acid or retinol can help open the existing milia and prevent new ones from forming.
Is there a way to remove milia surgically?
Beware that milia are not whiteheads. They are not easy to pop. Trying to remove them with your fingers will most probably leave you with the milia surround with red, irritated skin.
It's not recommended to remove milia at home. They aren't easy to remove and can easily cause damage to your skin. The best way to remove milia would be by electrosurgery in an aesthetician or dermatologist office.