A board-certified dermatologist explains different types of facial bumps, and how they can be treated.

Dealing with facial bumps is a universal struggle that transcends age, skin type, and lifestyle. Whether it's an adolescent grappling with the first signs of acne or an adult navigating sudden skin changes, the journey to understanding and treating these skin concerns can be filled with frustration and confusion.

A facial bump—which may seem like a minor inconvenience to some—can often do a number on one's confidence. It also can be both challenging and frustrating trying to figure out the true cause. 

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the various types of facial bumps, delving into their causes and the most effective treatment options. Guided by insights from a dermatologist, you’ll be equipped to navigate these common skin issues.


Acne is perhaps the most relatable and frustrating of all skin concerns, affecting individuals in both puberty and adulthood. With acne, once it’s disrupted your skin it can become relentless, with new challenges arising just as old ones seem to resolve.

Understanding the different types of acne and their respective treatments is crucial to effectively managing this condition. Here are some of the more common forms of acne and how they are treated.

Comedonal Acne

Comedonal acne is characterized by blockages in the hair follicles, leading to blackheads and whiteheads says Rina Weimann (Allawh), MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group. "Keratin, or skin debris, is normally shed through the follicular opening."

Recommended treatments include topical retinoids and chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. When dealing with highly resistant acne, oral isotretinoin may be prescribed.

Related: The Best Acne Products, According to Shape Editors and Experts


Pustules, commonly referred to as pimples, are typically caused by an inflammatory response to excess oil, bacteria [specifically Propionibacterium acnes bacteria], and debris on the skin, Dr. Weimann says. Maintaining proper skin hygiene, such as regular daily cleansing, and using topical acne treatments are key to managing pustules.

Deep Cystic Acne

This severe form of acne manifests as deep, often painful cysts under the skin, which typically do not come to a head, Dr. Weimann says. "Cysts are caused by an occlusion or blockage of a hair follicle resulting in the formation of a small balloon or sac underneath the skin."

Treatment often involves a combination of oral medications and topical treatments prescribed by a dermatologist to treat both the cysts and the acne scarring that may result because of the breakout.  Recommendations are tailored to the individual's specific needs. If you have deep cystic acne, it's important to see a board-certified dermatologist for help.

Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne typically appears as painful pimples and cysts along the lower cheeks, jawline, temples, and neck Dr. Weimann says. "[In people assigned female at birth] oral contraception may be helpful in controlling this type of acne by regulating hormone levels."

Bacterial Acne

This type of acne is caused by an overgrowth of skin bacteria, leading to inflammation and breakouts Dr. Weimann says. The mainstay of treatment is topical and oral antibiotics. "[But] prolonged use of oral antibiotics and/or topical antibiotics may lead to antibiotic-resistant acne." Be sure to work with your healthcare provider to determine how long you should use these treatments.


Milia are white or milky-white small bumps that are often difficult to extract at home, says Dr. Weimann. Though milia can disappear on their own, persistent cases may require professional extraction. Sometimes using topical retinoids can help soften milia, facilitating easier removal.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are harmless, skin-colored growths says Dr. Weimann. They commonly appear in areas where skin rubs against skin, although they can also be associated with certain health conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

Thanks to TikTok, at-home skin tag removal kits have grown in popularity, though Dr. Weimann advises against them, noting that they can actually make the condition worse. Removal methods by a health professional include cautery (heat used to melt the skin tag), cryodestruction (freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen), or using surgical scissors to remove the skin tag safely. 


Folliculitis, which is a term that refers to inflammation around the hair follicle, can be caused by various factors, including bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, Dr. Weimann says. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, with options ranging from topical antibiotics for bacterial folliculitis to antifungal treatments for yeast-driven cases.

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts are slow-growing, closed bumps that remain under the skin. They can be caused when a gland or its duct becomes damaged or blocked.

While typically harmless, they can become increasingly uncomfortable as they grow larger. Treatment options vary from waiting for them to resolve on their own to having them surgically removed or excised and drained.  

Preventative Measures

In the world of skincare, prevention is often the best cure. To keep facial bumps at bay, a few simple yet effective lifestyle and skincare changes can make a significant difference. Here are some steps you can take to improve your skin and reduce the number of bumps.

Use Gentle Skincare

Start with the basics such as a gentle skincare routine. Opt for mild cleansers that clean without stripping your skin's natural oils, and use moisturizers that hydrate and nourish your skin without clogging your pores. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen—it's your daily armor against the harsh effects of the sun. 

Manage Stress

Stress can be a silent trigger for various skin issues, including facial bumps. Counter it by incorporating stress-reduction practices into your daily life. Regular exercise, meditation, and ensuring quality sleep can positively affect your skin's health. When your body and mind are at ease, your skin often follows suit.

Incorporate Healthy Habits

Finally, what you put inside your body is just as crucial as what you put on your skin. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and adequate hydration provides essential nutrients that support skin health.

Avoid triggers like harsh skincare ingredients and resist the urge of picking at your skin, as these can aggravate—or even cause—facial bumps. Ultimately, understanding the different types of face bumps, their common causes, and the most effective treatments, combined with proactive skincare and lifestyle choices, paves the way for healthier skin. 

Related: The 13 Best Skincare Products of 2023, According to Our Editors and Testers

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Read the original article on Shape.

2024-02-23T12:06:15Z dg43tfdfdgfd