Skincare 101: Bumps on the skin

February 20

For this month’s skincare column with my skin guru, Rebecca Treston at EUROMED, I asked Rebecca about the bumps we get on our skin – What are the causes for face bumps? How do you get rid of them?
The tiny white bumps visible on the face are called milia. A blackhead, or open comedone, is formed when dead keratinocytes block the pore, oxidize in the open air and turn black. While the oxidized keratin on the top is black, underneath it is actually white. Milia are very similar, but are formed by trapped keratin compacted in the pore. Unfortunately, cleanliness isn’t the problem; rather milia are caused by aging and slower rate of cell turnover.
Milia usually form spontaneously. Undoubtedly, though the most common reason milia form is from smothering your skin with skin care products that are too heavy. Comedogenic creams and lotions may prevent the sloughing of dead epidermal skin cells. The eyelids are very thin and more likely to experience problems with milia due to cosmetics. Re-evaluate your eye make-up and eyelid make-up remover if you are finding this to be a concern. Certain lipsticks, lip balms and products meant to help with chapped lips may be the cause of little white pearly milia developing around the lipstick edge (called the vermillion border) of the lips. Again, if you see these forming, take a good look at the ingredients on the label.  Interestingly though the changes in skin that happen from years of chronic sun damage seem to promote milia formation for predisposed people – another good reason to use sunscreen!
Unfortunately, nothing absolutely prevents milia from forming if you’re prone to them but they can be treated quickly and easily.  Typically we treat milia by keeping the skin exfoliated, but the exfoliation must be done without irritating the skin. Skin care products that create exfoliation such as those that include glycolic acid in the ingredients usually help reduce the size and number of milia. Regular facials and mild chemical peels can also help. Sometimes though despite your best efforts, milia won’t come out and you may need them to be extracted by your skincare expert.
Once they have been treated and you are milia-free, to avoid their re-appearance, use sunscreen, a professionally-recommended glycolic cleanser and deep cleanse twice a week with a gentle but effective exfoliator.