Milia are small, white, round lesions commonly seen around the eyes. They are formed by an accumulation of dead cells on the surface of the skin that block sebum. Milia can be identified by their pearly appearance and distinguished round border. Although Milia can occur in anyone they are most often associated with a thickened epidermis, which can be caused by specific skin conditions including:
Prolonged use of steroid creams
Blistering injuries including poison ivy
Procedures for skin resurfacing such as Microdermabrasion
Genetic disorders and autoimmune skin conditions
Due to the thinner, delicate skin around the eyes and lack of sebaceous activity, skin care products for the eye area often are more emollient than those used for other skin areas. These occlusive agents can inhibit the shedding of cells, which can create thickened skin and lead to milia.
Regardless of the cause, these lesions can be removed with a lancet by a medical professional or by licensed estheticians in specific states where it is allowed.
Exfoliation also is helpful for recurring milia but only with products designed for the eye area. Chemical peels will break apart the dead skin and help prevent new milia from forming. Retinols are great for milia to stimulate healthy cell removal and renewal. Unfortunately, they cannot be used on the eyelids and you must be very careful using a retinol too close to the eye area.
If there are several recurring milia, a physician may opt to treat more aggressively with a resurfacing laser. Resurfacing lasers create heat to remove layers of skin, allowing for the thorough removal of lesions and built-up dead skin.
For at-home treatments, I recommend using topical Retinoids, which are creams, serums or gels derived from vitamin A. Retinoids are effective because they aid in skin cell turnover, allowing for the cyst to surface. But be careful-- retinoids are powerful, so it is important to make sure you are wearing sunscreen--especially around the eyes where the skin is thinner and more sensitive.
Milia can be permanently removed with extractions. But do not attempt them at home, because extractions done incorrectly can lead to scarring.Continue reading