What is a milia?
Milia or 'milk spots' are tiny clusters of skin debris, specifically a protein called keratin, that have been trapped beneath the surface of the skin. They tend to appear in clusters and look like tiny white spots (hence their nickname 'milk spots') around the eyelids and cheeks. Healthwise, milia are entirely harmless but of course, can be a cause of concern and insecurity.
What causes milia to appear under the eyes?
Eyelids are particularly susceptible to milia but the reasons are still not entirely clear. The skin around the eyes is particularly thin and less exfoliated than the rest of the skin on the face, making it more vulnerable to the causes of milia. We also know that secondary milia are more common in those with long term skin damage such as caused by the sun or the use of steroid creams. This is because the eyes are particularly unprotected when it comes to UV rays, which is why milia is most common around the eyes.
How can I get rid of milia under my eyes?
Milia can disappear naturally over a period of weeks or months as the skin naturally rejuvenates bringing them to the surface to be exfoliated away.
If you have long-standing, stubborn milia they can be removed by a professional dermatologist. A qualified dermatologist will be best positioned to advise on what would work best from the options available. The most common options are extraction through lancing, cryo therapy and even topical retinoids or lasers could be considered.
The worst thing you could do would be to try to extract them yourself. They lie deep within the skin and are locked there by a layer of skin so trying to squeeze them won't bring them to the surface and could cause damage to the skin and lead to scarring, especially around the eyes!
Is there a way to prevent milia from returning?
If you have milia-prone skin - consider a gentle daily cleaner to help keep the skin clean and clear. Try to avoid oil-based cleansers which can leave some residue on the skin. Be very careful when choosing products that you use around the eyes and upper cheeks.
Avoid heavy-weight creams and products (for example those with cocoa butter or shea butter) or anything with occlusive ingredients (like petroleum or lanolin). Look for lightweight hydrating products instead.
You could also consider a gentle exfoliating toner or a product that promotes cell turnover like retinol or bakuchiol for around the area to help slough off the dead skin, but be careful not to apply this too close to the eyes.
As ever, protect the area from the sun - a good quality daily mineral sun cream (mineral sun creams tend to be more comfortable applied closer to the eye area) will also help as a long term strategy to staving off milia.
Are there any eye creams for people suffering from milia?
Look for an eye cream or even an eye gel with lightweight, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
You could even consider a lighter option - like our Instant Relief Eye Spray which has wild-harvested Sea Buckthorn Oil and Sodium Hyularonate so it works on the eye itself and surrounding skin in a very gentle way.
You can consider a retinol or bakuchiol-based product to help will cell turnover in the area but it's really important to leave at least 1cm from your eyelashes when applying creams like this because retinoids can be harmful to the glands around the eyes
Can you wear makeup over milia?
You can wear makeup over milia but choose wisely - avoid oil-based foundation formulas and choose mineral makeup instead. Make sure you don't sweat in your makeup (for example, take it off before gym or working out).
And of course, never sleep in your makeup and thoroughly cleanse your skin after removing your makeup - a double cleanse might be a good option, especially on make-up days.
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