Simon Emmett

Everything you need to know about treating those tiny white bumps on your skin

All your questions, answered.

17 Apr 2018

If you've ever noticed tiny, white bumps on your skin and wondered what on earth they were and how best to tackle them, we have answers.

Known as 'milia', these small bumps are not to be confused with acne or whiteheads, explains Dr Ross Perry, Medical Director of Cosmedics.

"Milia are medically known as ‘milium cysts’ and it is important to understand that they are a tiny form of cyst rather than whiteheads, which they are sometimes confused with," he explains.

Why do we get milia?

Milia occur when the sweat glands become trapped with oil and keratin. "They can become quite hard and prominent and although they may pass away eventually, they could last for years. There is also a risk of inflammation if they’re left untreated," he warns.


How it can be treated

If you're really keen to tackle your milia, Dr Perry says laser offers the ultimate treatment, as it not only destroys the cysts but also stimulates the skin’s healing and cell renewal, so the skin looks healthier.

Other options for medical treatment of milia are microcautery, or micro needling / blading to incise and remove the collection of sebum.

If this all sounds somewhat intimidating, or for less severe cases, intensive exfoliation treatments such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion can be helpful.

"These work by stripping away the outer surface and clearing blocked pores for fresher skin. Exfoliation also stimulates cell renewal for clearer, healthier skin," he said.

Dr Perry emphasises that all the above treatments should all be carried out in a proper skin clinic by trained and experienced professionals.

For those looking for at-home treatments, a topical retinoid may be helpful. However, as Dr Perry explains, the recommended strengths aren't available without a prescription so you should ensure you see a doctor first.

He adds: "I would advise against trying to purchase something on the internet, as there is a risk of scarring from inappropriate treatment.
It is important to have the skin viewed by a doctor specialised in skin conditions in order to work out the best treatment plan."

Top tips for beating milia, courtesy of Lesley Reynolds of the Harley Street Skin Clinic...

1. Remember regular exfoliation and sunscreen will help prevent milia from occurring. Use good quality skincare products and employ a daily skin routine twice a day for healthy, clean skin.

2. Sun protection: Use an SPF 20 for normal daily activities and an SPF 50 on holiday or if you’re outside playing sport. Choose makeup that contains an SPF, too.

3. Add facemasks into your beauty routine as often as 4-5 times a week. Put one on after you wash your face in the morning whilst you make the tea and then remove it in the shower. It’s important to alternate your facemasks.

4. Exfoliate twice a week (Monroe Pore Minimising Mask) and use a vitamin-rich hydrating mask the other days (Rosina’s Kale & Pomegranate Mask, a three in one, wash, exfoliator, mask).

5. Almonds and almond oil are rich in vitamins, minerals, and importantly, antioxidants and have many health giving properties. They are anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting and can even help to cleanse the liver.