I recently started noticing small, pearly-white bumps on my forehead and around my cheeks. Not because they were bothersome, or because they hurt. I would see it when light hit my face at certain angles. It wasn’t acne, so I thought maybe it was a rash or a reaction I could be having to a product I use regularly. I wasn’t quite sure how to get rid of them. Most of us have these small white bumps but have absolutely no idea what they are, what caused them or how to get rid of them. So I did some research and it turns out these bumps aren’t a rash, nor are they caused by an infection or an allergy. They’re called milium, and milia is harmless. Most people find they only notice their milia because they see it in the mirror, the way I did. And it turns out A LOT of people have this skin condition. There are two primary types of milia: primary and secondary. Primary is the type that is found on newborns. Secondary, which is what I have develops because of clogged sweat ducts in the skin. This usually happens after there has been some kind of trauma to the skin.Sunburns and sun exposure are also common causes of milia. For example, sun exposure damages the surface layers of the skin, and that damage causes the skin to thicken. When dead skin cells try to make their way to the surface of the skin to flake off and can’t – there’s that thick skin in the way — they begin to form small white cysts of keratin as the skin cells build up. These cysts are milia.
Milia can’t be treated the way you would think, exfoliating actually makes the condition worse. I made an appointment with my friend Dr. Yelena Yeretsky at Clinique YFT in New York. She removed the milia with a procedure that combines a small lancing tool to pierce each milium and a comedone extractor to remove it (like a blackhead). I’m not gonna lie, it was VERY uncomfortable, but it was pretty quick, and it worked.