White bumps appearing on our skin may be milia or white heads. These often appear around the hair line, forehead, and nose on adults, teenagers, young children, males and females. There can be a few causes of milia ranging from over production of oil or sebum to face and hair product ingredients.
Milia are usually produced from a combination of oils, cellular fragments, sebum and a cocktail of topical product ingredients. The end result is a firm, hard plug or bump within the hair follicle which can be seen on top of the skin. Unlike a blackhead or comedone, the milia does not have a regular follicle opening and therefore does not oxidize and turn black or brown, instead staying white or yellow white.
Milia may be caused by a deficiency of linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid. When this is deficient in our sebum our body produces more oleic acid, which is a form of sebum and will end up forming a hard plug (which cannot be squeezed), rather than a softer plug. Milia may also be caused by the use of topical products such as coconut based ingredients which are often found in shampoo, conditioner, face and body washes.
When trying to remove/treat milia:
- Follow a well-balanced diet with lots of water and eat the rainbow (all colours of fruit and vegetables). Reduce sugar and all refined carbohydrates and include good fats.
- Change bed linen each week and pillow cases every other day
- Do not wear hats where possible, as they will trap oil, dirt, sweat and coconut based ingredients
- Check product ingredient index lists found on the back of products and reduce coconut based ingredients, waxes and silicones as much as possible
- Clean makeup sponges and brushes weekly (it is often a good idea to have 2, while 1 is being washed and dried the other is always ready for use). Check makeup ingredients as these will often create milia
- Do not pick, as a milia cannot be squeezed out. The end result can be infection, scarring and PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
- Cleanse and tone (using gauze squares morning and night) using pH balanced products so the skin is not stripped of natural oils which act as a protective medium to help stop bacteria from entering the skin. When using a treatment product they usually contain plant extracts and a combination of mandelic, salicylic or glycolic acids. Just as you clean your teeth morning and night, do the same for your facial skin with appropriate home care products that are specific for your skin concerns
- Keep fingers away from the face, sit on your hands at your desk, do not put hands on your face when sleeping (often hand cream will have coconut based ingredients and between this and sweat, milia can be created) or watching tv when lying on the lounge
- One of the easiest methods of treating milia is with a treatment in a professional clinic using diathermy (a treatment using a fine needle and a high frequency electric current). Often only 1 treatment is required, dehydrating the milia, and within a week they have dissolved, leaving the skin clean and bump free. Remember this is treating the condition but is not preventing new milia from forming.
- If the milia is large it may simply be professionally lanced and extracted by a qualified aesthetician
If you are not sure if your white bumps are milia check with your doctor, dermatologist or professional aesthetician/ dermal therapist.
Sue Carroll is an expert in the aesthetic para-medical industry with an impressive portfolio from Domestic Goddesses to Celebrities who rely on results courtesy of her 38 years of experience, advanced technology and clinical skincare. Being the best version of ourselves as we gain wisdom, and to evolve as athletes of aging, is simply a choice.
Sue’s skin journey began as a young teenager with acne and on medication into her early 20’ – she is testimony to an investment in your skin. Trusted by Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Clinics, Sue is renowned for treatments and programs specific to your skin concerns.
Sue’s passion is focused on celebrating women and men, of every age and ethnicity. When we feel good about ourselves, we feel confident in our skin. When you are ready for results, we are here to support your skincare journey.