18 Bumps On Your Skin That Are Totally Normal—And You Shouldn’t Pop

It’s tempting to go IN on your face when you check your makeup in the mirror and see a huge you-have-no-idea-what lump staring back at you. Dermatologists concur that a hands-off strategy is unquestionably the ideal when it comes to the majority of facial bumps and pimples under the skin.

According to board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, “popping anything causes your skin to physically split apart, making it more prone to infection and an even worse problem than what was there in the first place.” According to Noelani Gonzalez, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West, if you don’t resist the pop, you’re also pretty much assuring scarring and a protracted healing period.

Stock up on over-the-counter skincare products that have been approved by dermatologists, or let specialists handle it in their offices using skin-safe lasers and technology that you can’t acquire at home. Whether a hard pimple under the skin or little white lumps on your face are to blame for your bothersome skin problems, the best course of action will depend on the specific problem.

Here, you’ll find all the information you require on 15 frequent bumps, along with a nice reminder that you should never pick them.

It’s crucial to understand when to consult a dermatologist for advice before you delve in to identifying anything that might have appeared on your skin. Although you can develop conditions like acne and eczema well into adulthood, and new spots or bumps aren’t always an issue, Rebecca Marcus, MD, the founder of Maei MD, advises that your threshold for making an appointment should be rather low.

“You should consult a board-certified dermatologist if you have a skin problem that is affecting you and can’t be quickly treated with an over-the-counter treatment, “Dr. Marcus adds. “Even though many skin issues are harmless, they can nonetheless cause someone to feel uncomfortable or self-conscious.”

She also advises scheduling a yearly skin cancer spot check screening in advance, visiting the office if you suspect an infection that will require antibiotic treatment, and coming to the doctor if a mole or bump has altered in appearance. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a dermatologist is the sole source for an absolutely certain diagnosis.

1. Cystic acne lesions

Cystic acne develops very deeply beneath the skin’s surface, leaving a red, tender nodule that is uncomfortable and considerably more difficult to treat with over-the-counter medications. According to Dr. Engelman, the inflammation that comes along with cystic acne frequently results in indelible, permanent scarring and can impede the healing process. It won’t help to scratch these pimples under the skin either. According to board-certified dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD, “the cysts form so deeply beneath the skin that you won’t even come close to reaching the bump, and you’ll be left with a bloody spot.”

According to Dr. Schlessinger, hormonal changes and acne bacteria are the main causes of cystic acne. “High hormone levels cause an excess of oil to be produced, which enlarges pores. This oil ruptures beneath the skin’s surface when it is unable to reach the skin’s surface, spreading inflammation to nearby tissue. According to Dr. Gonzalez, other factors include germs in the hair follicles and slower cell turnover in acne patients, which results in keratin buildups in the pores.

The remedy: Make an appointment with your dermatologist instead of attempting to treat the problem yourself with your fingers. Your dermatologist can properly handle the situation (typically by giving you a cortisone shot to instantly reduce swelling) and may even be able to prevent you from developing scars altogether.

2. Milia

Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard you try, those tiny white lumps on your face, also known as milia, just won’t pop? Well, you can relax. They are truly impossible to pop, at least without the assistance of a dermatologist or esthetician.

The reason: Milia aren’t really covered in sludge, grease, or muck. According to Dr. Schlessinger, these are tiny, painless cysts that develop when dead skin cells become trapped under your skin. Dr. Schlessinger claims that picking at them frequently has little to no benefit and that trying to pop them will probably leave your skin red, itchy, and inflamed with the milia remaining intact. Ouch.

The remedy: According to Dr. Engelman, your dermatologist will likely excise the growth using a hot, sterilized tool if it is irritating you. Milia typically go away on their own, but you can use a retinoid treatment to hasten the process.

3. Unwanted Hairs

Frustrating? Extremely. Even if you just shaved your bikini line, is it still worth picking? Without a doubt.

The reason: According to Dr. Schlessinger, “Ingrown hairs form when the hair shaft becomes caught beneath the skin’s surface.” It’s never a good idea to use tweezers or manual force to pluck the red pimples that follow, even if they are frequently uncomfortable and swollen.” He continues, “Squeezing them will just exacerbate the inflammation and irritation.” (Hello, obtrusive red stains that last for months.)

Applying hydrocortisone, which lessens inflammation, itching, and redness, along with washing the affected region with an exfoliating cleaner will assist the hair grow through the skin’s surface. The dermatologist will nick the skin and remove the hair or inject it with drugs to lessen the inflammation if the painful bumps continue, advises Dr. Gonzalez. Pro tip: Don’t even try to deal with them. Shave in the direction that your hair develops rather than against it after exfoliating.

According to Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, “skin tags are additional growths of skin that often appear around the neck and underarms.” However, there are some reasons why you should refrain from picking at the little lumps. Dr. Zeichner explains that since skin tags are formed of flesh, removing them would hurt and result in bleeding. Your risk of infection can also rise.

The reason: According to Bruce Katz, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, “they frequently appear in places of friction, like by the neck, underarms, and crotch, and they are thought to be produced by skin rubbing against skin or on clothing.”

The approach: Experts should handle this one, without a doubt. “A specialist can remove skin tags by snipping them off surgically,” explains Dr. Gonzalez. “They can also be removed by freezing them off (a procedure known as cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen). Additionally, according to Dr. Zeichner, if your skin tags are large enough to interfere with your everyday life, your insurance provider may even foot the expense.

5. Cold Sores

No matter how much that cold sore resembles a pimple, don’t even consider touching them unless you want to incite an entire army of these nasty boys. Dr. Schlessinger warns that picking at cold sores could easily result in the development of another sore. By popping them, the same virus is released into a blister-like fluid that is easily transferred to other places, such as someone else’s face.

According to Dr. Gonzalez, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus types 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2). These viruses are incredibly prevalent. Oral herpes affects 50 to 80 percent of adult Americans.

Small sores can heal on their own with the use of over-the-counter medications (like this one). Dr. Gonzalez advises seeing a doctor for more aggressive treatment and, if you have sores more than six times a year, prophylactic medicine, but only if you detect cold sores appearing more frequently or spreading to larger areas.

6.Dermatosa Papulosa Nigra,

These mole-like brown or black pimples, which mostly affect those with darker skin, appear on the face and neck. There is little concern other than for individuals who are affected by them cosmetically, according to Yale University assistant clinical professor and dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, who practices in Connecticut.


Genetics is to blame, According to Dr. Gohara, there is currently no recognized cause, but we do know that it runs in families.

Treatment: Although there is no harm in having these marks, you can get them removed in-office if you don’t like how they look. This includes “scissor excision, shave excision, cryosurgery, electrodessication, curettage, dermabrasion, and laser removal,” according to Skin of Color Society. Just be aware that there is a chance that these procedures could result in skin pigmentation issues with deeper skin tones, so be sure to discuss a post-care plan with your dermatologist.

Keratosis Pilaris 7.

“Picking or squeezing these lesions has the potential to leave scars and aggravate the condition by causing inflammation, “Dr. Engelman notes.

Instead of picking, Dr. Gonzalez advises using a chemical exfoliant containing salicylic acid and glycolic acid, or treatments like AmLactin, to reduce irritation and gradually smooth out the bumps over time. Dr. Engelman advises that you visit a dermatologist or an esthetician who can properly treat you if that doesn’t work. According to Dr. Gonzalez, there are a number of treatment alternatives available, such as chemical peels, pulsed dye laser therapy, and the topical drug tretinoin (also known as Retin-A) to exfoliate the affected region.

8. Whiteheads And Blackheads

Although some of the most frequently popped pimples, try to avoid touching them if you can.

The reason: According to Dr. Schlessinger, blackheads are caused by the same thing as whiteheads: oil-clogged pores. However, in blackheads, the oil has turned dark or brownish due to oxidation. Squeezing them might traumatize the skin and push the infection farther deeper.

Salicylic acid and retinol make the greatest ingredients for treating blackheads. By promoting cell turnover, these exfoliants stop dead skin cells from clogging your pores.

Use an over-the-counter exfoliator like Differin Gel to remove the oil and debris without plucking at your blackheads or exerting pressure. According to Dr. Engelman, “it will function to bring the blackhead to the skin’s surface, leaving you with a fresh face in just days.”

To ensure that the items you use on your face won’t contribute to future bumps, search for skincare and makeup that are oil-free and non-comedogenic.

Also read: Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Strawberry Legs

Seborrheic Keratoses, number 9.

Seborrheic keratoses, according to Dr. Zeichner, are rough, brown lumps that generally appear on exposed skin, such as the face, chest, and back. They are completely harmless, according to Dr. Gonzalez, but they can cause problems since they can snag on clothing and feel scaly.
The underlying cause: “These are thick, additional skin growths that accumulate on the surface of your body, “Dr. Zeichner notes. Sun exposure doesn’t help, but since these bumps are genetic, they can still be in your future even if you apply sunscreen every day (which you should do!).

The course of action: Dr. Zeichner advises visiting your dermatologist if they become uncomfortable or inflamed rather than attempting to pop them; your dermatologist could even be able to have therapy approved by your insurance.

According to Dr. Zeichner, the only FDA-approved therapy for them is a procedure called Eskata. If the appearance bothers you, talk to your dermatologist about it. Each session of the treatments, which average two sessions to complete, costs around $375 and addresses four to five locations. Dr. Gonzalez continues, “Alternatively, you can choose cryotherapy to freeze them off or have them gently burnt out.”

Lipomas 10.

A lipoma is a fatty deposit that develops beneath the skin and may resemble a cystic zit. They are normally benign and non-cancerous, but if they are too big, they can hurt.

According to Dr. Gonzalez, lipomas are frequently genetically connected, so if you spot one beginning to develop, you may thank your parents.

The procedure: Despite the fact that Dr. Pimple Popper routinely “pops” lipomas for her patients, you shouldn’t do it at home. Your skin will become angry and red when you break it open, and it may also allow bacteria to enter the region. The best course of action is to have a dermatologist remove it by lasering it or burning it off to prevent scarring.

11. Cherry Angiomas

These harmless, bright red lumps are composed of microscopic blood vessels. They frequently appear on the back, belly, chest, and face.

They have no known cause, although there is a hereditary component that could increase your risk of developing them.

The course of action: Since they are loaded with blood, popping them is not the best course of action. However, Dr. Gonzalez assures that removal is rather simple. You can avoid bumps and scars by visiting the dermatologist’s clinic for a laser or cautery procedure.

Sebaceous Cysts, 12.

These skin-colored lumps, another Dr. Pimple Popper favorite, are filled with a yellow cheese-like substance that Dr. Gonzalez says you probably won’t want to see or smell. Although they are usually benign and asymptomatic, she continues, they can occasionally become painful if they become irritated, infected, or rupture.

The reason for this is because regions of the body with a lot of oil glands tend to have these sporadic keratin buildups, which appear as a pimple beneath the skin.

The available treatments, according to Dr. Gonzalez, are limited. You have two options: either have your doctor perform surgery to remove the keratin-filled capsule inside the cyst, which is a good option since the cyst is likely to become inflamed again unless it is completely removed, or you can have your derm inject them with steroids to help the inflammation go down and reduce the bump’s appearance.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia 13.

This information was pulled from a poll. At their website, you might be able to discover the same material in a different format or more details.
These little, yellowish pimples that dot the forehead or the middle of the face are extremely prevalent. They frequently get worse as people get older and are mistaken for skin conditions like acne.

The reason: Although completely unharmful, the bumps are brought on by an overabundance of oil glands on the face. Unfortunately, there aren’t any warning signs or symptoms; you’ll only know when you see them (sorry!).

The remedy: According to Dr. Gonzalez, doctors can gently burn these doughnut-shaped pimples out with electrocautery, freeze them off with cryotherapy, or remove them with a laser if you’re concerned by their appearance and pine for the times when your skin was clear and smooth.

Rosacea 14.

This information was pulled from a poll. At their website, you might be able to discover the same material in a different format or more details.
While you might think of rosacea as transitory skin redness or flushing, according to Dr. Marcus, the condition can also be blotchy and spotty, mimicking acne with its typical tiny, pus-filled or crusted pimples. Even the eyes may develop this skin problem, becoming them red and swollen. However, don’t touch these lumps; doing so will cause more harm than good. Instead, talk to a dermatologist to determine the best course of action for treating flare-ups.

The reason: According to Dr. Marcus, “Rosacea is a prevalent chronic inflammatory illness involving the facial skin.” “Although the specific origin of rosacea is unclear, it is believed to result from a dysregulated neurovascular system in addition to an exacerbated innate immune response.” Dr. Marcus claims that a person’s rosacea may flare up in response to a number of typical triggers, including exercise, stress, exposure to heat, alcohol, and meals like chocolate and spicy foods.

The course of action: There is, regrettably, no magic cure for rosacea. However, a dermatologist can use topical and oral antibiotics, topical vasoconstrictors, or other drugs to treat symptoms and control very severe flare-ups. Other methods for treating the redness associated with rosacea include laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) therapies. Additionally, you should choose wisely regarding your skincare routine and way of life in general. Dr. Marcus emphasizes the importance of gentle skin care, avoiding triggers where feasible, and strict photon protection, preferably with a mineral-based sunscreen.

Eczema 15.

Do your face or body occasionally have dry, bumpy, or flaky patches? Avoid picking or scratching these regions. The spots might be eczema, and scratching might actually cause a reaction that spreads the condition.

The reason: According to Dr. Marcus, the term “eczema” covers a variety of inflammatory skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, asteatotic eczema, and others. Atopic dermatitis is the most prevalent type of eczema. It is a chronic, itch-inducing skin condition in which the skin barrier is damaged, opening the door for environmental irritants or infectious agents to enter and cause dry, itchy, and red skin.

No matter what kind of eczema you may have, you should use gentle, sensitive skin products for prevention. Products containing ceramides and other nourishing components are key to maintaining a healthy, intact skin barrier. Within two to three minutes of getting out of the shower or bath, people with eczema should hydrate their skin with a fragrance-free moisturizer, advises Dr. Marcus. Taking tepid showers instead of hot ones, avoiding fragranced items (fragrance is a common irritant), and avoiding scratchy wool clothing are all beneficial ways to prevent further skin irritation.

You shouldn’t truly make your own diagnosis of eczema. The best course of action for your skin will depend on the diagnosis you receive from a dermatologist, who may also prescribe systemic or topical anti-inflammatory drugs that aren’t available over-the-counter, according to Dr. Marcus. There are certain drugstore goods that can aid with itch relief and prevention.

16. Warts

These little pimples that develop on the skin are rather typical. According to Dr. Gohara, there are techniques to treat warts even if there aren’t many viruses for which there is a cure. Picking a wart, though, might cause it to itch or spread to other parts of your skin.

The cause of warts is the HPV virus, which spreads from person to person or from surface to surface.

Keep your hands to yourself and look for antiviral remedies like salicylic acid plasters, TCA or liquid nitrogen therapy, and injectable drugs, advises Dr. Gohara.

17. Boils

According to Dr. Gohara, a boil is simply a pus-filled lump under the skin.

The reason: According to Gohara, “Pus in the skin typically denotes an infection with bacteria such as staph aureus.” It follows that picking at these boils would have disastrous consequences since hands are one of the dirtiest parts of the body. Infection and inflammation are added to the mix when a boil is picked or piped, she continues.

The recommended course of action for boils is incision, drainage of the liquid, and, if necessary, the administration of antibiotics, according to Gohara.

Keloids 18.

According to Dr. Gohara, keloid is a thicker scar that is more frequently seen in people with brown or Black skin. They frequently appear on the earlobes after piercings.

The cause: According to Gohara, keloids can have a variety of reasons. “How one’s skin reacts to trauma determines the likelihood of one developing a keloid.”

Treatment options include steroid injections, laser therapy, and surgical removal, according to the dermatologist, who should be board-certified.