Bumps on the facial skin come in varying sizes, textures, shapes, and colours—and are usually harmless (except for the distress they cause you when you inspect your makeup up-close and realise that it’s only nice from far, but far from nice … ). Some, however, are slightly more concerning and may require a professional examination.
Plain and simple: If a bump on your face isn’t turning darker, bleeding, changing in a concerning way, or causing you discomfort, you probably don’t need to visit a medical doctor. Other bumps, like acne, can often be managed at home with a consistent skincare routine, or with the help of a dermatologist.
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of bumps that appear on your face and how to manage them, because we all want skin like the Paris filter on Instagram.
These harmless bumps are the most common and are categorized in two groups: closed comedones (whiteheads) and open comedones (blackheads). As their names suggest, whiteheads are white bumps, and blackheads are, well, black bumps.
The cause: Comedones are basically clogged pores. When they’re closed, the blockage of excess oil and dead skin cells appears white or pinkish. When they’re open, this unpleasant cocktail becomes oxidized, causing it to appear black.
The treatment: Despite the popularity of pore strips and how attractive the idea of quick fixes can be, avoid using these to remove blackheads. The adhesive used to stick them to the skin can damage your complexion, plus they strip the skin of natural oils and only remove the very top of blackheads, leaving you with still-clogged pores.
To manage them and prevent full-blown breakouts, be disciplined with your cleansing routine and use a cleanser that deep cleans the skin. We recommend using our Hydrating Cleansing Gel, which does so without causing dryness—plus it has a handful of anti-aging benefits.
Whatever you do, avoid squeezing these bumps! Squeezing them can force the bacteria even deeper (yikes) and causes trauma to the skin, which increases the risk of scarring. To prevent blackheads and whiteheads, look for makeup and skincare products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic, which won’t clog your pores.
If you’ve ever had tiny whitehead-looking bumps on your face that refused to budge no matter how many times you tried to extract them, they were probably a harmless cyst known as milia (singular milium).
The cause: These un-poppable cysts, which are hard (not gooey like your average whitehead), occur when dead skin cells get trapped under the skin. While they can happen to anyone, they are more prevalent in people with excessive sun damage, have experienced skin trauma like burns, or those who use lots of oil-based makeup and skincare.
The treatment: Although milia generally vanish on their own, some can be awfully stubborn. If this is the case for you, we recommend trying exfoliating products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Additionally, a dermatologist can remove milia by making a small incision with sterilized tools. Key phrase: a dermatologist. Do not try this at home!
- Fungal acne
If you’ve ever had itchy, uniform red bumps on your skin that don’t respond to traditional topical and oral acne-fighting treatments—such as benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics—it’s probably an inflammation in the hair follicles known as fungal acne.
The cause: While regular acne is triggered by bacteria and clogged pores, fungal acne is caused by an overgrowth of yeast (a type of fungus). This yeast lives on everyone’s skin and thrives in an environment rich in oils and fatty acids, but it only grows into fungal acne when it feeds on large amounts of human sebum. Yeast levels spike in hot, humid weather when we’re sweaty, which is bad news for us living in these climates.
The treatment: Avoid tight-fitting clothing, which traps sebum against the skin and essentially provides a feast for the yeast (this sounds cool but it’s really not), and change out of sweaty gym clothes as quickly as possible. Apart from that, avoid fermented ingredients in skincare (such as galactomyces and saccharomyces) and avoid cleansing oils/balms. Use micellar water to remove your makeup instead! If it’s not a part of your routine already, do introduce your skin to salicylic acid, an antibacterial and anti-fungal ingredient that works wonders against fungal acne.
- Cystic Acne
Cystic pimples occur very deep under the skin's surface, forming a red, painful bump that’s difficult to treat with over-the-counter medications. The inflammation that comes with cystic acne can disrupt the skin’s natural healing process and often leads to stubborn scarring.
The cause: Cystic acne is mainly caused by hormonal fluctuations. High hormone levels trigger an overproduction of sebum, which causes pores to swell. When this oil cannot reach the skin’s surface, it bursts underneath and spreads inflammation to surrounding tissue. Other causes include bacteria in hair follicles and slowed cell turnover in acne patients.
The treatment: Picking at these bumps under the skin won’t do you any good. These cysts grow so deep beneath the skin that you won’t even come close to reaching the bump, and you’ll be left with an unsightly bloody spot. Instead, book an appointment with your dermatologist, who can properly treat it and save you from scarring altogether.
If you stumbled upon this article a little too late and you have scars you’d like to get rid of, we recommend using our best-selling Anti-Aging Copper Peptide Mask, which is great for fading scars and improving skin texture.
Experiencing bumps on your face? .. Try CLEF Skincare today