Whiteheads or milk spots?

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How do I get rid of these white spots around my eyes?

Milia, a condition often mistaken for whiteheads or acne, appear around the eyes, eyelids, nose, mouth and ears. They commonly occur in new born babies, but affect anyone of any age. Being more of a cosmetic annoyance, the condition is actually harmless. In babies, they tend to disappear after 2-3 weeks, yet in adults the condition can be more persistent.

It is not clear what causes these ‘milk spots’, but they are thought to arise as a reaction to skin creams or as a result of overactive sweat glands. They are essentially small cysts of dead skin containing a protein called keratin and there are several types. The best way to get a diagnosis and treatment is to see a dermatologist.

A good exfoliator can help. Washing the face with warm water to open the pores and patting the skin with a thin towel can slowly eliminate the cysts. Avoid using heavy creams and make-up that easily get into the pores and block them. However, if this does not work, do not attempt to squeeze the cysts. Instead, talk to a skin specialist. Professional dermalogical treatments consist of using a lancet needle to open pores and release the milia. This method should leave no scars or scratches to the skin. Alternatively, they can be treated with cryotherapy- a freezing treatment, or dermabrasion and chemical peels to remove the affected layers of skin. Dermatologists commonly use a technique called hyfrecation, which uses a pen-like device to accurately apply low level electrical currents to target treatment areas allowing removal of the milia with precision.

Always seek professional skin advice if unsure about your condition, as treating it yourself may aggravate it.

Christina Vlachou