Why we get little white dots under our skin

Most of us are familiar with the little white bumps that sometimes appear on our face and body. Often mistaken for acne, these pin -prick sized globules are actually “milia” or keratin-filled cysts, which form under the skin. They aren’t dangerous but can be annoying and at times, difficult to treat. There are two types of milia; Primary milia, which result from under-developed oil glands, and secondary milia which are caused by trauma to the skin.

One of the biggest issues with treating milia is their actual diagnosis. Many people of all ages see a white bump and automatically assume that it’s acne. While milia and your standard whitehead look similar, their composition is very different. A whitehead is the result of excess fat and oil becoming trapped in a hair follicle causing the pore to clog up. Milia, on the other hand are proteins trapped under the skin. Mixing up milia with whiteheads often means that you treat your skin for acne with strongly abrasive or deep cleansing products, which just ends up irritating the milia in the long run.

The best treatment for milia is prevention.  Excessive sun exposure, irritation from skin products and fluoridated toothpastes can all cause milia. A gentle skincare routine with fragrance free products is a good place to start.

You can also try the following:

  • Exfoliate once or twice a week with a very gentle product. Avoid harsh scrubs or any product that contains particles or micro-beads as these can be highly irritating.
  • To reduce milia around the eye, use a fragrance and preservative free eye cream for sensitive eyes and try and avoid rubbing the area as much as possible.
  • When choosing a sunscreen, go for one for sensitive skin without fragrance and other additives. A physical, zinc based product as opposed to chemical sunscreen is usually the best choice.
  • When brushing your teeth, try and keep the foam away from the skin around your mouth and rinse the area thoroughly when you’re done brushing.

If these measures aren’t effective or you have a lot of milia that aren’t clearing up, you may need to speak to a beautician or dermatologist who can perform an extraction. As milia as trapped beneath the skin they can be quite stubborn to clear. A qualified beauty professional or dermatologist can extract them quickly and easily.

Article created in partnership with Over60.