Forgive me readers, for I have sinned: I picked my face.
I’ve blogged about my milia problem before, and how I was seeing a facialist for extractions. That was before I found out exactly how bad extractions are for your skin from my derm. Since last winter, I stopped getting extractions at the spa for good and started doing more laser treatments. I have fewer milium bumps lately, but the problem is not completely abolished. I often have one or two on my face, usually around the eyes, at any given time. Annoying.
For the past two months, I had a milium on my right upper cheek that didn’t seem to get any better despite my best exfoliating efforts. After a month of diligently dabbing glycolic and salicylic acid products on it, in hopes of unclogging the pore and loosen up the tough skin surrounding what I knew was a tiny pearl of gross, I deemed these efforts futile. Even my Clarisonic proved to be of little help. Every time I came out of the shower, it looked more plump and prime for picking.
To the chagrin of dermatologists and aestheticians everywhere, one night last week I attacked it with clean fingers and proceeded to pinch, picked, and prod at it until I ruptured the skin slightly. Scared of scarring, I stopped there. The spot was red in the morning but concealable with makeup. Fully knowing that my derm would not approve of my risky skin behaviour, that night I went back to battle it. Within fifteen minutes of pressing the area around the spot at all angles, squeezing the jebesus of out it until, the tiny ball of product buildup oozed out. I picked it off with my fingers, examining it with disdain and fascination (I can’t believe how hard it is), and then feeling victorious, I wrapped the milium in tissue and flushed it down the toilet. Score!
A few days after the rapturous event, shame sinked in as I now have scar, more of a pinpoint hole that makes me afraid to apply makeup in fear that it could fill up with bacteria again and swell into another milium. Say hello to my new little friend…
You must be wondering why would on earth would you pick your face knowing what you know? Hey, sometimes we slip up. I may have access to the best products and dermatologist in the city, but I’m a recovering picker and it takes time to get over a bad habit. Give me some time. For now I’m certain that I’ll never pick again, but what is the better way to remove milia?
Recently, reader Nicola emailed me looking for advice for her mila problem also:
“On my face I have milia spots. I have loads across my cheeks despite ensuring all my products are oil free, and using gentle cleanser, moisturiser and gentle daily glycolic acid exfoliate from skin. I also use bare minerals and yet they just keep coming back! Any advice would be great.”
I took this question (and my own shameful confession) to my derm, Dr. Lisa Kellett, at my latest appointment. Here’s what she said,
“Mila are collections of oil underneath the skin and they cannot usually be removed superficially because there is a dermis – a top layer of skin – that has grown over top of it. They are caused by using products such as creams and lotions that are too rich for your skin. Milia can be prevented by using gel-based skin care products. Products containing mild acids can help to get rid of milia, but these can take a very long time.”
I thought about all those times I spent applying exfoliants on them. The best solution?
“Dermatologists can take a small electric needle and just take it right out. And the nice thing about this method is that it doesn’t leave behind a scar.”
The moral of this story is (again!) keep your mitts off your face and let your dermatologist conquer your skin battles. Don’t be a cowboy.
Shortly after I posted this, I received an email from a long time patient of Dr. Kellett. She had one of her milium bumps removed with the electric needle technique that Dr. Kellett uses, and she provided her before and after pics. She said she had this spot for about two years! Below is the bump before the procedure back in November 2013…
And this is her after pic taken yesterday. She adds that it is completely flat and undetectable now because she had also done two Laser Peel resurfacing treatments shortly after removing the milium. Thank you loyal reader for sending me your pics! I am never picking my face again!!