The Grains of Milium

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Deemed unsightly by those who have them, the grains of milium are however harmless and generally disappear spontaneously. To find out where milium seeds come from and how to get rid of them, Doctissimo interviewed Prof. Gérard Lorette, professor emeritus in the dermatology department of the University Hospital of Tours.

Summary

The grain of milium: what is it?

Causes of milium seeds

A simple clinical diagnosis

Milium grain: what treatment?

 

The grain of milium: what is it?

Milium grains are microcysts made up of lamellae of keratin coiled around each other. They appear as small white or yellowish grains, 1 to 2 mm in diameter, on the surface of the skin. Often isolated, scattered around the face, neck or hands, these small raised skin lesions generally appear on areas of irritated skin, says Professor Lorette.Milium seeds can also appear in the form of plaques with about fifty or a hundred microcysts on red, inflammatory skin. This shape is rather present in front of the ears, on the cheeks and sometimes on the eyelids.

 

Causes of milium seeds

The formation of milium grains would be caused by the obstruction of the hair follicles: application of excessively rich creams, excessive exposure to UV rays, excessive use of products or abrasive gestures (scrubs) … The causes at the origin of the Milium grains are often an assault on the skin, explains Prof. Lorette.Certain dermatological diseases or certain skin treatments can also cause their appearance. This is the case with epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic disease that promotes poor healing of the skin, and retinoids, which make the skin atrophic. In general, milium seeds can accompany many genetic dermatoses, underlines the dermatologist.

In children, milia seeds can be of congenital origin and appear as early as the first weeks of life. “It’s pretty trivial, there is nothing to worry about, as long as these microcysts disappear on their own in a few days or weeks,” reassures the specialist.Occasionally, milium seeds appear in the mouth (known as “Epstein’s pearls”) or on the nose, but these two particular forms are equally mild and usually do not require treatment.

In adults, women seem to be more affected than men: the fault is undoubtedly the excessive use of hygiene care or beauty products that are too abrasive for the skin. “The skin is irritated by scrubs and peels. Result: the damaged horny layer is reformed with grains of milium”, explains Professor Lorette.

A simple clinical diagnosis

A skin exam is usually sufficient to diagnose milium seeds. However, it happens that certain small buttons make think, wrongly, of grains of milium. This is the case with sebaceous hyperplasia of the newborn, which however is characterized by oily skin and more yellowish lesions, or pustulosis, linked to yeasts (fungi).

 

Milium grain: what treatment?

Treatment of milium seeds is not essential, as they disappear spontaneously in most cases. “The best is to wait until it goes away on its own,” confirms the dermatologist.For people who are more impatient or who cannot stand these marks that they consider unsightly, a consultation with the dermatologist may be considered. “The dermatologist will pierce the skin with a very fine needle and remove the grain of milium.”Professor Lorette warns against the temptation to tackle it yourself. “You should never attempt to puncture a grain of milium, not only is it nearly impossible but you risk infection.” A word of advice: be patient and avoid mirrors for a while!

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