Your Most Embarrassing Beauty Problems - Decoded
Too mortified to talk to your friends or derm about your gross beauty issues? Here's the ugly truth on what's causing them -- and how to lose them for good
What it actually is: Milia are tiny epidermal cysts that look like whiteheads, but they are not "poppable." Milia form when keratin, the protein that makes up your hair and nails, becomes trapped under the first layer of skin at the base of a hair follicle or sweat gland. On adults, they pop up around the eyes and nose.
How you get it: Sun exposure and damage to the skin (such as lasers, microdermabrasion, long-term use of steroid creams, or other injury to the skin) encourage their formation. Heavy lotions can also increase their likelihood, since they discourage the skin from sloughing off naturally. And I thought that oily eye cream was supposed to be doing wonders for my skin!
How you get rid of it: Dr. Krant says they require tiny surgical removals if they don't go away on their own. She warns that they should not be removed by an aesthetician. Cost for removal will vary by dermatologist, but usually it's under $100 to have several removed. After noticing the milia under my eye, I swore off heavy eye creams (which tend to clog the pores and encourage milia) and started using an AHA cleanser (I like Mychelle Dermaceuticals Pure Harmony Cleanser) because the formula exfoliates without using harsh beads that might cause more trauma to the area. The little bump prevailed for about seven months before falling off while I was applying my under eye concealer one morning. Milia success story!
How you prevent it: "The best way to prevent them is to review your skin care routine to make sure there are no irritating components or rough physical parts to it, since skin needs to be treated gently to prevent microscopic inflammation and its consequences," says Dr. Krant. While exfoliating is important for the prevention of milia, make sure the product you're using doesn't contain large, harsh beads, like walnut shells. Rough beads will make microscopic tears in the skin, encouraging milia formation.
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