What are milia? Everything you should know about the eye skin condition and how you can treat it

Do you have clusters of white spots around your eyes? They could be milia - but thankfully there's an easy way to remove them.

As eye skin conditions go, milia are probably the least of your problems but for many it can be annoying to see and knock your confidence.

A milium cyst (plural milia) is a skin condition which usually affects the skin around the eyes. They look like tiny white spots which you may dismiss as a minor case of acne - but don't be fooled. If you attempt to remove them yourself, you could be left with unsightly scars. Find out more about the condition below and the correct way to treat it.

What are milia?

Milia are clusters of small milium cysts which usually form around the cheeks, nose and eyes, as a result of trapped protein known as keratin beneath the skin’s surface.

Milia can occur in newborns but usually clear up within a few weeks, but adults get them as well. In adults, it can take longer to disappear and may not go away at all without treatment.

How can you treat milia?

Treating milia requires a very simple procedure but it should be done by a qualified professional to avoid scarring.

There are a number of reputable cosmetic surgeons who can carry out this process in one quick visit such as the Sk:n Clinic.

Depending on how intense your milia is, there are two possible courses of treatment. A professional can remove them using a surgical needle or they rub them off.

After a visit the Sk:n Clinic, we were recommended the needle option, which was carried out by a senior nurse.

You would usually go to a clinic for an assessment first - as your condition could well be something else. If they are milia, they may be able to treat your case there and then on the same day with a surgical needle. Otherwise, you'll have to book an appointment.

The treatment is very simple - you lay back on a bed and will first receive some anti-infection cleansing around the eye area.

They will then proceed to gently pull at the skin until a small opening appears, allowing them to push through the milia. If you're curious, ask the nurse what it feels as it's hard like rice unlike the type of 'exits' you might expect from a normal spot.

The duration of treatment can vary depending on how seriously you have milia. In our case, we did two separate visits for each eye, which took around 30 minutes each.

Does treating milia hurt?

The surgical needle option is relatively painless but can be slightly uncomfortable at times. The nurse takes the time to gently and carefully open the skin's surface, warning you each time to expect a 'tiny pinch' feeling.

Tougher cases of milia may hurt a little more as the nurse will really have to go at it when both opening a bit of the skin and pushing the milia through.

What is the recovery process for milia like?

Once the nurse is finished there will be tiny blood dots left on your skin, which take about a week to fully recover.

When they've recovered, your skin will be left clear. See how our case of melia recovered over seven days below:


Can milia return after treatment?

Yes, milia can return after you've been treated. The nurse advises a number of skin care products to neutralise your PH level to prevent it from returning.

In our case the nurse advised using a glycolic face wash with salicylic acid and a retinol to look after the skin. We used Pixi Glow Tonic.

More from BT