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How to Treat and Prevent Facial Milia at Home

Facial milia are tiny, white cysts imbedded in the skin, commonly appearing on the cheeks and around the eyes and lips. Try treating and preventing milia at home with these helpful tips.

Facial milia are tiny, white cysts that commonly appear on the cheeks and around the eyes and lips. They can occur at any age, and the exact cause is unknown, although heredity, heavy use of makeup or skin-care products, and sun damage are thought to play a role. Milia form when the skin traps dead skin cells instead of exfoliating them. Milia may be removed professionally by a dermatologist, however, there are steps you can take at home to treat and prevent milia. Milia can resolve on their own with time as they make their way to your skin’s surface. Regular exfoliation at home can accelerate this process. Below are daily skin care instructions for people with milia, as well as examples of products that can be used to treat and prevent milia.

Cleanser

Wash your face once or twice daily with a gentle, soap-free, non-comedogenic exfoliating cleanser, such as MD Formulations Facial Cleanser with glycolic acid. Glycolic acid dissolves dead skin cells and allows new, healthy cells to grow. Regular use of a gentle glycolic acid cleanser will help bring the milia to the surface. As your skin will be continually sloughing dead skin cells and forming new, healthy cells, more milia also will be less likely to form. People with sensitivity to glycolic acid can try a gentle, deep pore cleanser, such as Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, or an enzymatic cleanser like Adrien Arpel Papaya Enzyme Cleanser.

Sun Protection

Limit sun exposure and wear an oil-free sun screen when outside, like DERMAdoctor Body Guard Exquisitely Light SPF 30 For Face & Body. If you have milia around your lip area that may be due to excessive use of lip balm, use an alpha-hydroxy lip treatment such as EI Solutions Lip Refine. As for lip balm, choose a high quality one like B. Kamins Lip Balm SPF 20, and use only when outdoors. If your lips are dry while indoors, simply apply a very small amount of Vaseline.

Dermabrasion Product

Use a gentle dermabrasion product once or twice weekly. A fine example is the rice-based Modern Friction by Origins. This will work in conjunction with your cleanser to keep dead cells sloughing. Do not use dermabrasion products on the eye area.

Home Glycolic Acid Peel

Try a glycolic acid peel at home (avoiding the eye area), like Patricia Wexler, M.D. Dermatology 2-Step Exfoliating Glyco Peel for Acne. This will further exfoliate the skin. Your goal is to gently and continually exfoliate the skin so that the milia will surface and dissolve. Do not use a dermabrasion product during glycolic acid peel treatments as it can irritate the skin.

Moisturizer

Use a non-comedogenic, light moisturizer such as EC Mode Oil-Less Moisturizer daily. This will soothe the skin and normalize sebum production. Do not use a moisturizer that has any type of AHA or glycolic acid in it.

Warnings and Tips

If you wear makeup and use make-up remover, choose products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic. If milia does not improve after several weeks, consult a dermatologist who can perform professional microdermabrasion, stronger glycolic acid peels, or laser and needle extraction. Follow the directions on the skin care products, and should your skin get irritated, discontinue use and consult a physician if worsening occurs.

Exfoliation must be maintained. If you suddenly stop exfoliating your skin, dead cells can build up rapidly and may cause more milia. Avoid benzoyl peroxide cleansers as they dry out the skin, causing oil imbalance and more dead skin cells.

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