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what is milia and how do you treat it?

What are milia?
Apart from being unsightly and annoying, milia are a trapped build-up of surface (keratin) cells in one area. They look soft but are surprisingly hard when you feel them after removal – a bit like the texture of a grain of rice under the skin. ‘They’re very common on the face, particularly on the cheeks and around the eyes,’ explains Dr Mervyn Patterson, cosmetic dermatologist at Woodford Medical. At least we know we’re not alone in this battle of the bumps!

How do we treat them?
This is the good part – there are many things you can do to help banish these unwanted facial ‘friends’, though Dr Patterson advises ‘prevention is better than cure. Don’t forget gentle exfoliation on a daily basis – I recommend the Epionce Lytic TX, £50.50, containing salicylic and azelaic acids which help to remove surface skin cell debris and clear the pores which have also been shown to reduce the chance of milia forming

If your milia are a little more stubborn, though, and no amount of exfoliation is helping them pop out, a doctor will remove them by making a microscopic incision in the roof of the milia with a needle. Through this small hole the contents can then be expressed or picked out gently with a needle tip. ‘Don’t let anyone try to treat them with freezing through cryotherapy as this can cause too much collateral damage to the skin’ warns Dr Patterson