Reader Q&A: "What are These White Bumps on My Face? And How Can I Get Rid of Them?"
Posted 07/25/11 at 02:17PM by Audrey Fine
Dear Dawn: We won't lecture you about how you're not supposed to "pop" things on your face, because we're pretty sure that was just a momentary lapse in judgment brought on by the frustration you must've been feeling over the bumps. ('Cause you do know that poking and squeezing your own skin usually causes more harm than good by introducing bacteria and irritating already irritated conditions, right?)
Rather, we'll try to set your mind at ease by telling you that those "white bumps" are milia -- or large whiteheads/little cysts -- and they're extremely common. Milia happen as a result of keratin (a substance that occurs naturally in skin and hair) getting trapped beneath the top layer of the skin. They're usually found on the cheeks, under the eyes, across the forehead and on the nose.
The misleading thing about milia is that they look like whiteheads, and people try to lance them with a needle and squeeze out the contents. Bad idea. Unlike a whitehead, what's "inside" a milium is a hard substance and extraction is difficult.
Instead, try treating the offending bump(s) with a topical retinoid or product containing salicylic acid -- both will help to slough off dead skin cells and work towards "eating away" at the milia.
You can also head into the dermatologist's office to have them professionally removed via an acid peel or microdermabrasion treatment.
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