We’re all familiar with your classic, standard-issue acne and blemishes, but do you really know how to get rid of those small bumps on your face?
Whiteheads. Blackheads. Zits. Those tiny pimples on your face that start below the skin and make you await their dreaded arrival.
But what about those tiny mystery bumps that don’t seem to be members of the pimple family? They might be skin-colored, hard, or don’t pop. Like a bumpy rash on your face, they’re stubborn and there’s a lot of them!
If they’re not acne, what are they and how do I get rid of these bumps on my face!
If you think you’re the only one without flawless, airbrushed-looking skin, believe me, you’re not alone. In recent years, Noxzema conducted a survey in which they asked 1,000 women about various skin concerns.
When it comes to skincare, a clear complexion is a top priority for many of us. Today, I’m going to help you get to the bottom of these pesky little bumps to determine what they could be and some potential ways to treat them!
What Are These Bumps?
There are a few different factors that could be the source of non-acne bumps on your face and skin. Do you want to know how to get rid of the tiny bumps on your face quickly? Let’s see if we can identify what you’re working with, and find out some ways to combat those skin colored, pimple like bumps on your face that won’t go away!
How to Identify
If you have small, hard, white bumps around your eyes, mouth, nose, cheeks or eyelids, they could be milia. These are tiny cysts that are filled with a protein called keratin and usually occur under the skin.
Shockingly, these are not small pimples on the face. They might look like small whiteheads, but without the accompanying redness of acne, and can seem frustrating because they don’t pop and don’t go away.
Milia are formed when dead skin cells are not exfoliated and get trapped beneath your skin’s surface, then end up forming tiny cysts. While people of any age can experience milia, it’s really common amongst babies, affecting 50% of newborns.
This is due to the fact that their new, delicate skin is still learning to exfoliate.
For us adults with seasoned skin, this trapping of dead skin cells happens for a number of reasons:
- Under-exfoliating – If you’re not using an exfoliant in your skincare routine, you might not be effectively removing dead skin cells which can clog pores and lead to bumps and blemishes, as well as a duller complexion.
- Using heavy moisturizers, cleansers, and creams – These products can confine dead skin cells and cause them to accumulate on your skin’s surface.
- Sun damage – When your skin experiences damage from UV radiation, it breaks down and becomes thicker and more leathery. This makes it harder to remove dead skin. Say it with me: Always wear your daily SPF!
- Not thoroughly cleansing – If you’re not properly removing all your makeup each day, it can build up and trap skin cells over time.
Treatment and Prevention
Although it’s tempting, do not go crazy trying to pop these little bumps to get rid of them. You’ll only damage skin and risk spreading infection, particularly if they’re on your eyelids.
Milia, in general, don’t go away. Consider consulting an esthetician to try a chemical peel, dermaplaning, or microdermabrasion since they’ll have access to stronger ingredients. If you still find that you’re struggling with milia, it might be time to see a dermatologist who can use a needle-like instrument to remove those pesky little bumps.
In the meantime, start with these remedies for smoother skin!
Cleanse and exfoliate: Thoroughly cleaning your skin every night is the most important prevention method! I’m also a big fan of cleaning devices and brushes used with cleanser to ensure you’re completely removing makeup, tinted sunscreen, and other things that can hang around on your skin.
You can also make sure you’re getting skin super clean by either starting with a pre-cleanse to remove makeup, doing a cleanser/exfoliator combo, or a lather-rinse-repeat double cleanse to get rid of all that business.
You can try a gentle physical exfoliator which uses small granules to buff away dead skin cells. I would suggest you opt for a chemical exfoliant (not as harsh as it sounds) which uses ingredients or natural fruit enzymes to dissolve and remove dead skin. This encourages new cell turnover and keeps pores clog-free.
Look for lightweight formulas: Since thicker, richer moisturizers and cream cleansers can trap dead skin cells, stick with products that offer hydration without the weight. Look for formulas that include humectants such as hyaluronic acid and consider adding a serum to your routine which will deliver deep moisture to skin in a lightweight formula.
Wear your SPF: Keep skin healthy and supple by wearing sun protection every day. Yes. Every. Day. Bonus: You’ll also prevent skin aging and wrinkles, and protect yourself from the risk of scarier things such as skin cancer. Win-win!
Talk to your dermatologist: If nothing else seems to be working, make an appointment to talk to a skincare specialist who can treat milia using professional methods. Whatever you do, don’t put your skin at risk trying to remove them yourself!
How to Identify
This skin condition is also referred to as “chicken skin” since it appears like goosebumps that don’t go away. According to Medscape, Keratosis pilaris (KP) affects nearly 50-80% of all adolescents and approximately 40% of adults.
These dry, hard bumps are typically white, red, or skin-colored and usually occur on arms and thighs, but also commonly affect the face and back. While they’re not painful, they can make skin feel itchy or irritated.
Keratosis pilaris is caused when keratin, which is naturally present in your hair follicles, builds up and plugs the follicle. There are a few reasons you might find yourself living with these little bumps:
- Dry skin – Keratosis pilaris is made worse when skin is dry, particularly if it’s due to low humidity or cold weather (I see you, winter). When your skin is dried out, it can overproduce keratin in an attempt to moisturize and protect itself. This process jams up follicles, causing ingrown hairs and irritation. This is why these bumps sometimes appear red. Though people with any skin type can experience this condition, it commonly affects those that are prone to dry skin.
- Chafing – These bumps can get irritated and made worse by tight clothing that causes chafing. When possible, wear clothing that is loose and breathable. That’s right, you just got one more justifiable reason for rocking your favorite comfy clothes!
- Genetics – There’s also a genetic component, which means it’s pretty likely that someone in your family has KP and passed in on to you (thanks, Mom and Dad).
Treatment and Prevention
While it seems like a good idea to exfoliate these bumps away, it may just exacerbate the problem. As dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD explains, “People tend to over-exfoliate to get [the skin] smooth, and it just makes it worse, because it stimulates more bumps.”
Harsh exfoliants and cleansers can strip skin of natural moisture, and because KP is made worse when skin is dry, moisture is the name of the game.
Experts recommend using moisturizers that include active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid), lactic acid, salicylic acid, and urea which will provide a mild exfoliating factor to keep follicles clear while moisturizing skin.
You can also try formulas containing Retin-A which will remove the top dead layers of skin and encourage new cell turnover and growth. Since this ingredient is a little stronger, make sure to follow directions for use which will likely advise that you start by applying it just a couple times a week until your skin acclimates.
How to Identify
It’s possible that your skin is reacting to irritation caused by a makeup, skincare, or hair care product. Some dietary allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can cause these tiny bumps on the skin.
Typically, the way to tell if bumps are a result of an allergy or reaction is that your skin will most likely feel itchy or irritated, and they won’t go away as quickly as acne does. Bumpy skin on the face may also be accompanied by redness or flaky/scaly patches.
When your body encounters an allergen or irritant, it triggers an immune response which can cause inflammation. This can be especially true if you have a sensitive skin type, or are susceptible to conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or hives.
Treatment and Prevention
If you suspect that a food or product is causing an allergic reaction, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause. Your best option is to talk to a doctor or allergist to determine exactly what’s causing a reaction.
It’s also a good idea to steer clear of any products that contain fragrances which play a large part in irritating the skin. You might also want to use products specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
Whenever you’re trying out a new product, do a test patch on a small area of skin and wait 24 to 48 hours to make sure you don’t have a reaction before applying to larger areas. I know, getting a new product is exciting and you want to use it right away, but better safe than sorry!
A Friendly Word to the Wise
If you ever have a bump or skin spot you’re concerned about, do not hesitate to consult your doctor or get it looked at by a professional. Serious conditions such as basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, can mimic the appearance of acne.
If you have a bump that changes, grows, or doesn’t go away, get it checked out ASAP. And, make sure you’re seeing a doctor for yearly skin screenings and spot checks. It may seem like just one more appointment you have to fit into your schedule, but it’s worth it to make sure you have happy, healthy skin!
Little bumps and blemishes can be frustrating in our quest for clear skin. However, it’s important not to get lost fixating on tiny imperfections and lose sight of the bigger overall picture: healthy skin.
Still have questions about bumps or skin concerns? Download the skincarebyalana.com app which features a FREE skincare analysis. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your skin and snap a quick photo (optional) using your phone, and a licensed esthetician will review your info and respond – typically within 24 hours – with a skin analysis and recommendations for products that will get you on your way to your best skin!
No matter what skin conditions or concerns you’re dealing with, as long as you make sure you’re taking the best care of your skin, you can’t go wrong!
Have tips or questions on how to win the Battle of the Bumps? Share them with us in the comments section!
My Favorite Products to Beat Those Bumps
If you’re looking for a lightweight formula that packs a moisturizing punch, I’ve got you covered. I created my serum to boost skin’s moisture by 10x by utilizing hyaluronic acid, an amazing humectant that binds moisture to the skin. The result is supple, hydrated skin with fewer lines and wrinkles!
Get your skin deep, professional-level clean with this pre-cleanse. This formula’s active ingredients melt away excess oil, sunscreen, waterproof makeup and rinse away dirt, debris, and other impurities to prep your skin to get the most out of your regular cleanser.
This wash features alpha hydroxy and glycolic herbal ingredients to remove cellular build up to smooth skin. It also washes away dirt, acne-causing bacteria, and excess oil to leave you with younger-looking, radiant skin.
This leave-on gel treatment harnesses the might power of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to naturally exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells and other impurities to reveal a glow. It also refines a dull, tired complexions. Get ready for fresh, revitalized skin!
This clarifying exfoliating treatment uses lactic acid to gently loosen and remove dead skin cells as well as micro-polishers to buff them away. It also nourishes skin by infusing it with vitamins and anti-aging benefits and encourages healthy, new cell generation.
Skin Script’s powerful exfoliating scrub includes Retinol to polish and purify the skin by lifting away dead skin and hyperpigmentation, and supporting healthy cell turnover. It also improves the production of collagen and elastin, which means smoother skin and less fine lines and wrinkles for you!
These powerful little pads use salicylic and glycolic acid to cleanse and clarify skin by removing excess oil, dirt, and impurities. They also balance skin and include antioxidants to soothe redness and reduce inflammation. Plus, they’re perfect for skincare on-the-go!
Get a deep, revitalizing cleanse with this brush. It gently pulsates to soften skin, remove makeup and impurities, and get skin delightfully clean and glowing. It also stimulates skin and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, it feels amazing, like an at-home face massage!