What are those tiny bumps on your face?

Have you ever noticed or felt small bumps on your face or body? Sometimes tiny bumps can pop up out of nowhere leaving you with little knowledge of what they might be or how to treat them. Without the help of a dermatologist, it’s tough to identify different types of bumps on your skin, but not impossible. While all bumps aren’t created equal, with the right information you can identify them based on their color, size, and other characteristics.

Tiny bumps on your skin can be a variety of things like acne or a new mole, but they can also be skin conditions called milia and keratosis pilaris. Once you identify what type of tiny bumps you have, you can figure out a treatment plan if needed. Here, we break down four different types of bumps you can get on your skin.


Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States with over 50 million people being affected annually. There are several different types of acne including whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.

  • What it looks like

    Whiteheads and blackheads (also known as comedones) are quite self-explanatory. Whiteheads are the type of acne that appear with a white pus-filled top begging to be popped (Don’t do it!) and blackheads are usually found in your T-Zone. Papules are comedones that become inflamed creating tiny bumps on your skin, whereas pustules are inflamed and typically filled with yellow pus. Nodules present as bumps that are hard to touch, and cysts are a severe form of acne resembling pus-filled lesions.

  • Why it’s happening

    Acne can form anywhere on your face and body when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. Your oil gland is meant to produce sebum (oil) to keep your skin moisturized. Once the follicle is clogged though, the oil has nowhere to go and the buildup can be a nightmare for your skin.

  • How to treat it

    Begin using active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide is commonly recommended by dermatologist to treat acne. It acts as an effective antibacterial treatment that delivers oxygen into your pores unclogging them and killing bacteria. Salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and promotes the shedding of dead skin cells. Try using our original three-step system with benzoyl peroxide. Remember, skincare takes time so be patient and whatever you do, don’t pick at your skin!


Often found around the eye area, milia presents itself as tiny bumps on your face that are known in the dermatology world as milium cysts. It’s very common for newborn babies to have this skin condition, but adults can get it too. There are different types of milia, but for the purposes of this piece we’re talking about primary milia.

  • What it looks like

    Milia show up alone or in a small gathering and appear white on your skin. Besides your eye area, they can also be found on your forehead and cheeks.

  • Why it’s happening

    They occur when the protein keratin or dead skin cells become trapped underneath the surface of your skin.

  • How to treat it

    Primary milia often clear up on their own, but it can take some time. Don’t try to pick or scratch them away. Doing so will only make them inflamed and can cause scarring later. If they’re not going away in a timely manner, consult your dermatologist and they can extract the cysts.


Known as nevus or beauty marks, moles are skin growths that can occur anytime during your life. Ask your dermatologist to take a look at your moles regularly.

  • What they look like

    Moles are typically brown or black in color and sometimes grow hair out of them. (Pretty – we know!)

  • Why it’s happening

    Having moles can be genetic and it can also be because of sun exposure. Be sure to check what type they are with your dermatologist.

  • How to treat it

    It’s recommended you get skin checks by your dermatologist yearly to keep tab of your moles and make sure they are all benign.

Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris shows up as tiny bumps on your skin, (and is also known as KP.) They’re harmless and can appear anywhere but are most commonly found on the back of your upper arms.

  • What it looks like

    These rough bumps are very tiny, reddish in color, and can be found in patches.

  • Why it’s happening

    Your skin is made up of a protein called keratin and when there’s buildup of keratin (or dry skin), keratosis pilaris forms.

  • How to Treat It

    Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! Gently slough off dead skin cells at least once per week in the shower with a manual exfoliator to keep keratosis pilaris from forming. And remember to consult your dermatologist.

The takeaway

There are several different types of bumps that can form on your skin – including acne, milia, moles, and keratosis pilaris. Once you identify the types of bumps on your skin, you can begin addressing how to treat them. Of course, if at-home treatment isn’t helping, make sure to see your dermatologist.