White Bumps on Your Face


White Bumps (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)

Got a bump on your face that won't pop and isn't a zit, and won't even go away? What the heck is this thing?


It's milia! Now, what is that?

A milium, type of a cyst is a white bump, small in size that typically appears on the cheeks and nose, but these can pop up anywhere. Often found in groups, these are also known as milia. These aren't itchy or painful and are harmless.


Milia occur when dead skin cells get trapped beneath the skin's surface. Unlike a pimple, milia are neither inflamed nor red. Milia also tends to stay for a longer time period, than a pimple. Milia can take a few weeks or months also, to heal, unlike a pimple that heals within a few days.


What causes milia?

A milium is so common that you're going to get a milium every now and then. It can develop even if you don't have common acne or if you have relatively clear skin. When your skin isn't exfoliated properly or when the skin doesn't shed dead cells, milia take place. The white bump that you see is actually a plug of oil and skin cells. It can occur at any age and some people may be more prone to developing milia, more than others.


Apparently, there's no reason for milia to appear. It may be triggered by an injury to the skin such as:

- Burns

- Blistering injuries

- Blistering due to a skin condition

- Procedures such as laser resurfacing or dermabrasion

- Long-term sun damage

- Long-term use of steroid creams


In rare cases, medication might also cause milia.


Types of Milia

There are different types of milia, classified on the basis of at what age do they occur or the injury due to which these cysts develop.


-Neonatal Milia

This type of milia develops in newborns and heals within a few weeks. You can find these cysts on the face, upper torso, and scalp.


- Juvenile Milia

Genetic disorders such as pachyonychia syndrome, Gardner syndrome, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome and Bazex-Dupré-Christol syndrome can cause juvenile milia.

- Primary Milia

When keratin is trapped under the surface of the skin, this type of milia occurs. It can occur in children as well as adults. It may disappear in a few weeks or it may even last for a few months. You can find cysts on the genitalia, eyelids and the forehead.


- Multiple Eruptive Milia

Itchy areas that can appear on the upper arms, torso and the face are called multiple eruptive milia.


- Milia en Plaque

Commonly associated with autoimmune or genetic skin disorders, such as lichen planus or discoid lupus, Milia en plaque can affect the ears, jaws, cheeks or eyelids. These are of several centimeters in diameter and are most commonly seen in middle-aged women. Although, it can occur in children and adults of all genders and ages.


- Milia associated with Drugs

Sometimes, the use of steroid creams can lead to milia on the skin, where the cream has been applied, but such a side effect is rare.


- Traumatic Milia

This type of Milia occurs when the skin is injured. Severe burns and rashes may cause milia, and if these cysts are irritated, then they turn red along the edges with a white center.


How are milia diagnosed?

If you have Milia, your doctor will examine your skin and determine so, based on how the cysts appear.


What should you do about milia?

There's not really anything you can do to prevent milia completely, but following these few tips can minimize your chances of developing them.


- If you've noticed that you're prone to milia, then see what products you're using on your skin. Too heavy moisturizers or eye creams might be one of the reasons behind the development of these white bumps.

- Switch to different products to see if there's any improvement. Choose products that are labeled non-comedogenic or oil-free. These will keep your skin free from oil and make it less likely for milia to develop.

When given enough time, milia goes away on its own. But if you don't want to wait for some reason, then there are different ways to treat milia such as:

- Chemical peels

- Cryotherapy, it involves freezing and is one of the most frequently used methods to destroy the cysts

- Medications like topical retinoids

- Laser ablation, in which a small and focused laser is used to destroy the cyst

- Destruction curettage, in which surgical scraping and cauterization is done to destroy the cysts

- Diathermy, in which extreme heat is used to destroy the cysts

- Deroofing, in which a sterile needle is used to pick out the cyst's contents


Usually, Milia don't cause any long-term problem. When it occurs in newborns, the cysts go away within a few weeks after birth, whereas, in older children and adults, it might take a while longer. Nevertheless, it isn't harmful. Consult your dermatologist if the condition doesn't improve within a few weeks to ensure that it isn't any other skin condition.


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