Just when I thought my under-eyes couldn’t be more of a foe, I stumbled upon yet another way the skin there can rebel: with white bumps under eyes called “milia”. I was perusing the skin-care threads on Reddit when a post caught my attention—it was basically a user that was frustrated from tiny white bumps that appeared underneath her eyes. It’s something I’ve experienced too, and it’s even more frustrating because there’s less info out there on how to get rid of the pesky situation.
Basically, the small but hugely annoying bumps show up when there isn’t enough exfoliation or when you’re using occlusive skin-care ingredients. “Milia are small accumulations of keratin under the skin,” says Purvisha Patel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. “They appear as small, light-colored hard balls under the skin, and commonly happen when the keratin gets a chance to accumulate.” AKA when it’s not exfoliated.
Because the skin under your eyes is really thin and generally not scrubbed, it tends to be a more common spot for milia to form, she says. As far as occlusive ingredients go, Dr. Patel explains that petrolatum and thick moisturizers like coconut oil can clog the skin more “and make the process worse in those that are prone to milia.”
The good news is you can prevent those bumps from popping up. “Mild exfoliants help slough the keratin in order to prevent them from forming,” says Dr. Patel, who recommends turning to ingredients like retinol. And when it comes to hydration, stick with moisturizers that are non-comedogenic and lighter in consistency. So now: Milia, try me.
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