Milia seeds develop from a skin condition that produces the small bumps, which are mainly found around the eyes and, occasionally, the genitals. They can occur throughout all stages of life. Often, milia seeds are incorrectly self-diagnosed as whiteheads, genital warts or even baby acne. Although these oil seeds may cause alarm, the minute, whitish-yellowish spots are not dangerous.
What Are Milia Seeds?
Milia seeds occur in areas of the body where we have pilosebaceous glands (where hair follicles grow), similar to acne. The cysts are 1 to 2 mm in size and are growths of keratin that develop mostly around the eye area, but they can occur in other parts of the body.
Who it Affects
Keratin is a protein with which hair is made, so milia seeds occur in areas where a hair follicle and a sebaceous (sweat gland) gland are located. Unless a person is lacking hair follicles or sweat glands, milia seeds can affect anyone; however, they are most commonly seen in babies and are not specific to any race or ethnicity.
The Cause of Milia Seeds
Although the exact cause is still not known, it is thought that milia seeds occur when the sweat glands are underdeveloped or damaged due to some sort of skin trauma like a burn. Other causes include certain fungicides, overuse of soaps and cleansers, and allergies to products that may cause some damage to the sweat glands. Another common occasion when this condition may occur is after microdermabrasion–in these cases, the cause is also likely to be from damage to the glands. In adults, the bumps generally do not readily go away without treatment and may be further exacerbated by another skin ailment. Much like acne, the pores may become clogged, leading to difficulty sloughing off the dead skin and clogging the pores. These cysts are not unusual and are no threat to your health.
How to Get Rid of Milia Seeds
There is no medical reason to remove milia seeds, since they are harmless–however, people may want them removed for aesthetic reasons. The condition will fade away in infants, so no treatment is recommended. However, for adults, no medication has been shown to be effective in the treatment of milia seeds, so it may be necessary to have the cysts removed by a dermatologist in a process similar to properly extracting a zit. Having it poked with a sharp, thin object and squeezed in a quick and minimally painless procedure can do the trick. In fact, after learning the proper technique from your health care professional, you may be able to extract the cysts yourself.
How to Avoid Developing Milia Seeds
If the bumps are recurring, you should consider using an oil-free lotion or cream and possibly change products altogether, as an allergy may be the cause. Sunburns may also cause damage leading to the cysts, so be sure to wear sunblock if burning is a problem for you. One last suggestion is to avoid any unnecessary dermatological procedure that causes trauma to the skin (such as microdermabrasion).
References and ResourcesThe Merck Manual of Medical Information
Milia Information for Adults