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Mysterious Blemishes? How To Get Rid of Bumps on Your Face

Sep 20, 2022
May 25, 2023

You’ve perfected your skincare routine for smooth, blemish-free skin and said goodbye to red, inflamed bumps and clogged pores. Then, you see tiny bumps on your face that are just noticeable enough to catch the light. Sound familiar?

These bumps don’t look like typical acne, so what are they? Keep reading for answers to all your face-bump-related questions, and learn how to get rid of bumps on your face.

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Facial bumps have many causes

We know “bumps” is a vague term, especially for something with many different causes and descriptors. Bumps on your face might be acne, cold sores, lipomas, warts, or an allergic reaction, among other things.

Acne bumps like papules and pustules will appear inflamed and red. Comedones like blackheads and whiteheads are also a type of acne that forms when your pores are clogged but not inflamed. One of the most common types of mysterious tiny bumps on your face is milia. These look similar to pimples but don’t often appear irritated and won’t become whiteheads or blackheads.

If you’ve got bumps that cause discomfort, are inflamed, or have an unknown cause, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Some lumps could be a sign of a medical condition that requires treatment.

What causes face bumps?

Face bumps could have many different causes besides acne. Luckily, identifying the cause of mysterious face bumps will help you find the right treatment to kiss bumps goodbye for good.

  • Genetics: Unfortunately, some face bumps are no fault of your own — they’re inherited. 
  • Hormones: Hormonal changes often cause acne bumps, especially around people’s menstrual cycles.
  • Rosacea: Rosacea doesn’t just result in a flushed face. Small bumps that look like pimples are a common rosacea symptom.
  • Skin irritation and allergies: This is probably no surprise, but irritated skin can lead to raised bumps. Contact dermatitis — an allergic reaction to something like a skincare product — often results in symptoms like a rash, dry skin, and, you guessed it: bumps.
  • Milia: This is often the cause of unexplainable tiny white bumps on your skin. These occur due to genetics, medication, skin damage, and autoimmune diseases.

What are milia?

Because milia are such a common cause of facial bumps, it’s worth diving a bit deeper. Milia are pinpoint-sized cysts found on the surface of the skin. Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells, but sometimes these cells and keratin become trapped in the hair follicle and form into milia.

The primary type of milia is small white cysts found around your eyes and eyelids. Secondary milia are small white bumps that form after damage to your skin, like sun exposure or damage from a harsh skincare product. 

How to get rid of milia

You might be wondering: Is there a guide for how to get rid of hard whiteheads on my face? Well, they’re likely milia. Luckily, milia usually clears up without treatment, but if you want to speed up the process, we know a few skincare products that help. 

Retinol is a simple addition to your skincare routine that helps clear milia, along with gentle exfoliation to scrub dead skin cells off your skin. Milia can be caused by excess sun exposure, so regularly apply SPF to keep your skin cyst-free. Dermatologists can also remove them if they’re irritating or truly a nuisance. 

How to get rid of bumps on your face

Bumps on your face may resolve on their own, but if you want to treat and prevent bumps, the following methods may help.

1. Incorporate retinol into your routine

Retinol encourages cell turnover and unclogs your pores, making it a great option to try on all facial bumps, not just milia. We love the Murad Rsg Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum because it’s made specifically for your eye area where milia are common and offers anti-aging benefits. 

Another great product is the Herbivore MOON FRUIT Retinol Alternative Serum, especially for those that love clean and natural beauty brands as it’s a natural alternative to retinol. 

2. Exfoliate with care

Exfoliation is always a good skin care tip because it helps scrub off excess dead skin cells that make your skin look dull. Exfoliation does require some restraint — you don’t want to scrub your skin too hard and cause irritation. The UpCircle Coffee Face Scrub - Herbal Blend is formulated for sensitive skin, making it ideal for the area around your eyes. Another option: Use a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid, which is common in many face cleansers for acne.

3. Use clean ingredients

Ingredients that irritate your skin or clog your pores are a recipe for face bumps. Look for clean beauty and skincare brands to avoid irritating your skin, and check product labels to make sure they’re free of comedogenic ingredients. Another reason to check the ingredients list is that skin care products may cause allergic reactions that produce bumps. 

4. Sunscreen is your skin’s best friend

Sunburnt skin is dry and irritated, resulting in bumps like milia or other forms of irritation. Incorporate your favorite sunscreen into your daily skincare routine to protect your skin from sun damage. We love the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 because it’s so weightless you won’t even know you’re wearing it. The BeautyBio The Perfector 4-1 Tinted SPF 30 is also great — it acts as a skin tint and sunscreen to help protect your skin and make it look flawless in seconds.

Be gentle with your skin

Typically, small bumps are nothing to stress about, but it’s understandable if you want to get rid of stubborn white bumps on your face (who wouldn’t?). But be gentle with your skin when treating bumps because using harsh products or picking at them will only worsen your skin. If you have painful, itchy, or large bumps, make an appointment with your dermatologist to see if you need medical treatment. 

People also ask

Can I get rid of tiny bumps on my face at home?

Home remedies can work wonders, but make sure you avoid applying anything that’s comedogenic or could irritate your skin. If you have milia, retinol is an over-the-counter product that helps. To use retinol, apply the cream, gel, or serum to the affected area after your cleanser and before moisturizer. If you’ve never used retinol, slowly work it into your skincare routine to avoid overwhelming and irritating your skin.

For other face bump types, focus on using gentle, non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t irritate your skin.

How do I get rid of tiny bumps on my forehead?

If you have milia or other skin conditions on your forehead, use retinol and gentle exfoliation to help unclog your pores. Bumps on your forehead could be whiteheads, which would benefit from the same treatment as milia. They might also be dermatitis or fungal acne. If, after trying retinol, exfoliation, and sunscreen, your bumps are still there, talk to your doctor for other treatment options. 

What are the tiny bumps on my face that aren't acne?

While acne is a common culprit for bumps on your face, pinpoint-sized whiteheads are probably milia. If, after reading our guide, you’re still not convinced, see your dermatologist — they’ll help confirm what the bumps on your face are.

Ready to tackle your facial bumps but wondering where to start? Check out reviews for helpful products on Flip. Chances are someone with the same problem has found the perfect solution.

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