What are those bumps on your face? You know exactly which ones we’re talking about: The kind where you’re not sure if it’s a breakout or a reaction to a new cleanser, where you immediately drag out your laptop and search for “tiny bumps on face,” hoping for an image that matches (and, ideally, explains what they are). Not all bumps are created equal, but you can identify them based on their color, size and other symptoms (like itchiness). From there, you can find the most effective way to treat them, bringing you one step closer to making them disappear altogether. Dermatologist Michele J. Farber, MD, FAAD at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC helps us identify some of the most common bumps.
What It Looks Like: Anything from small red bumps to whiteheads to large, painful cysts. Breakouts can be both inflammatory and noninflammatory. “Inflammatory lesions include red papules, pustules and deeper cysts, and noninflammatory lesions are blackheads and whiteheads,” says Dr. Farber.
Why It’s Happening: Everything from menstruation to not washing your face at night can lead to acne. “Acne is caused by hormonal factors and changes in sebum production, as well as inflammation and bacteria in the skin,” explains Dr. Farber.
How to Deal With It: The best acne treatment depends on the severity, but the best tends to be a multi-pronged approach, including topical lotions and creams and, if it’s rampant, oral options like birth control. “Extractions, injections, peels and lasers can be helpful in the office to help clear skin as well,” says Dr. Farber. Whatever you do, don’t pick at it, since you run the risk of scarring.
When to See a Doctor: If you’ve been using acne-fighting products since high school and still get breakouts, see your derm. Treating acne sooner can help prevent acne scars and can help improve your skin faster.
What It Looks Like: Tiny white bumps beneath your skin, occasionally around your eye area.
Why It’s Happening: Milia are usually caused by rubbing or occlusive creams,” says Dr. Farber. “They can also follow trauma or be induced by blisters.”
How to Deal With It: They’re easy to prevent with topical exfoliants, so look for products that have retinol or glycolic acid. Once the milia are already there, though, it’s not a DIY situation. “They’re deeper under the surface than they look and require special tools to remove safely, so don’t squeeze them at home,” says Dr. Farber.
When to See a Doctor: If you want your milia removed, they can either be easily extracted in your derm’s office or via laser, which works well if you have a lot. But they’re benign, so there’s no harm in having them.
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