What are Those Little Bumps on My Face if They're Not Acne?

What are Those Little Bumps on My Face if They're Not Acne?

Have you ever dealt with little bumps on your face that are definitely not acne? If you have, don't worry- you can still treat them. But before you can figure out how to treat them, you need to diagnose the problem. Skin bumps can occur for a few different reasons, so we’re going to help you figure out first what you’re dealing with, and then how to deal with it.

Keratosis Pelaris

Keratosis Pelaris is a common skin condition where you have raised bumps on your skin that sort of look like goosebumps - which is why it has the nickname “chicken skin.” The bumps can be red, white, or skin colored, and it's most common to appear on your thighs, arms, back, and cheeks. KP occurs when dead skin cells clog your hair follicles. The bumps shouldn't hurt or itch- they're just cosmetically annoying, and it tends to be worse in the winter than in the summer. As with a lot of these skin things, it’s a genetic condition and it affects 40% of adults, so if you have it, you’re not alone. It tends to be worse for people under 30, and often goes away once you hit the 30 year old mark even if you've dealt with it your whole life.

How to treat it: While you may think you should physically exfoliate those bumps, the best way best way to treat KP is actually with a chemical exfoliator. Physical exfoliants irritate your skin, but a chemical exfoliator removes the buildup without scraping or cutting your skin. Look for cleansers that use glycolic or salycylic acid, like Alder New York’s Everyday Face Cleanser. Also remember that KP tends to get better with age- so there's a reason to look forward to getting older.


If you’re dealing with small, hard, white bumps along your eyes, mouth, eyelids, nose, or cheeks, and they aren’t whiteheads, they’re likely milia. Similar to KP, Milia occurs when dead skin cells build up, but in this case they get trapped in pockets on your skin's surface and form hard little cysts. This buildup can happen because you're not exfoliating often enough and/or using pore-clogging moisturizers or cleansers, or from long term sun damage. Milia is very common in babies, but also effects adults who are predisposed to it.

How to treat it:  First make sure you’re not using a heavy, pore-clogging moisturizer- avoid petroleum based products that won’t let your skin breath, or ones that use butters that might be too thick for your skin type. Switch over to a chemical exfoliator that uses AHA or BHA to gently remove dead skin buildup. If you're milia is especially intense and it bothers you, it's worth meeting with a dermatologist, who can use laser ablation or cryotherapy to remove it.

Allergic Reaction

If you’re dealing with a patch of raised bumps on your skin that itch or appear inflamed, it’s likely an allergic reaction to something. When we have an allergic reaction, our immune system triggers inflammation and itchiness.

How to treat it: If you think you have allergies, you’ll want to meet with a dermatologist who can help you figure out if you’re allergic to something you’re ingesting or something you’re applying topically. Then, of course, you'll want to get that trigger out of your life!

Stick to Clean Skincare

Regardless of what you're dealing with, you're always best off sticking with clean skincare that avoids any harmful ingredients to avoid inflammation or clogged pores. And as with any skin issues, if it's something you're worried about or it won't go away with these suggestions, you should definitely meet with a dermatologist who can help you figure it out.  

1 comment

Small bumps are all over my forehead they are not any kind of dieses and they are not acne. I had flowers in my room which I am allergic to but I moved them away a couple day’s ago and I still have bumps.


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