Understanding Milia: Causes and Treatment Options

posted in: HABIC, Industry News
By Mariga Sheedy

Milia are very common and many clients will look to you to treat or remove them, mistakenly believing that they can be extracted like blackheads. In this article my aim is to give you wording to help explain milia to the client and educate them in prevention and professional treatment while answering the FAQ’s.

What are milia?

Milia are the white, raised, hard spherical bumps that you can see under your skin. They are very common around the eye contour area and cheekbones but can be seen anywhere on the face. They can become bigger over time. Sometimes they can go away on their own but more often you will ned to have them removed. When you are prone to milia, you will need to work on their causes to prevent new ones forming all the time.

What are they NOT?

Milia are not spots, acne, blackheads, whiteheads or a rash.

What causes milia?

Milia are generally caused either by previous skin trauma in the area (such as sunburn/laser/allergic reaction) or by a lipid deficiency in the skin cells at basal layer which causes the skin cell to form crystallised lipids instead of smooth ones and these crystals appear as milia. To prevent new milia forming, you need to address the nutritional needs of your skin from the inside as well as using bio-identical lipid repair oils on the outside. Good sources of essential fatty acids are oily fish, flax seeds, olive oil (unheated), avocados, linseeds. You can also take a supplement such as cod liver oil. Always take medical advice before beginning a course of supplements.

Can you get rid of existing milia?

To remove existing milia is a simple procedure using either diathermy (heat treatment) or cryotherapy (cold). In diathermy each milium is individually treated with a mild electrical current using a very fine sterile probe. The current dries up and turns the contents of the milium into very fine particles which are then removed by the lymph system over the next few days. Immediately, the milia become flatter then gradually disappear. A single session is enough for a small lesion, bigger milia may need a second treatment. With cryotherapy, the treatment and results are the same except the effect is achieved with a very cold application of nitrous oxide using a pinpoint-accurate CryoPen instead of electrical current. This is a good option for those who are contra-indicated to the diathermy method.

Can you stop milia from coming back?

Once a milium has been treated it will not come back. However, if you are prone to them new ones can occur if you haven’t addressed the cause. To prevent them you need to have plenty of essential fatty acids and omegas in your diet to form healthy skin cells, and use a bio-identical facial oil to supplement ceramides, cholesterols and other lipids in the correct ratios. A Vitamin A product is also useful in keeping skin structure  strong, healthy and renewed.

  1. Maeve O'Healy-Harte

    That was very interesting Mariga.

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