Milia are small white pearl like cysts or pockets formed from your top skin layer called the epidermis. They sometimes have a blackhead like opening connecting to the skin surface. When there are many milia, the skin takes on a cobbled appearance.
The white material in a milium (single for milia) is made up of cells from the dead skin layer called the stratum corneum. Unlike a sebaceous cyst (also called an epidermal inclusion cyst), milia do not form from a pore; they are just a pocket of normal skin that somehow indented, sealed over and the dead cells got trapped.
Nothing absolutely prevents milia from forming if you are prone to them. Typically milia are treated by keeping the skin exfoliated, but the exfoliation must be done gently without irritating the skin. Skin care products which promote exfoliation like Retin A (tretinoin) and salicylic acid help reduce the size and number of milia. Regular facials, microdermabrasion and mild chemical peels can also be helpful.
Contact Dr. Heather Roberts for further information.