There are many reasons for small bumps on the forehead. Although a person doesn’t like the way they look or feel, they are often harmless.
People often associate forehead bumps with acne. However, there are multiple causes such as milia, contact dermatitis, and folliculitis.
Forehead bumps are usually not severe and there are many treatments to remove them depending on the cause.
This article examines common causes of small bumps on the forehead. We’ll also look at possible home and medical treatments, and when a person should speak to a doctor.
Small bumps on the forehead can look different depending on the cause. They can be white or red and soft or firm.
These bumps can only appear on the forehead or in other areas of the body.
In some people, the bumps can:
There are several causes of forehead bumps, including:
Milia, also known as milk spots, are small, pimple-like cysts that appear when dead skin cells build up under the skin. They tend to develop in clusters on the face, usually around the eyes, but they can also appear on the forehead.
They are typically:
- colored white or yellow
In some people, milia can develop for no reason. In others, it can be caused by injury, blistering, or burning. They are also common in newborns.
Acne can cause spots and bumps anywhere on the body, including the forehead. It occurs when dead skin cells mix with the skin’s natural oils and clog pores.
Acne bumps can look like tiny whiteheads, blackheads, or larger cysts. There may be a few individual bumps or they may appear in a cluster.
Folliculitis is a skin infection that occurs when damaged hair follicles allow bacteria to enter the skin. A person can then develop an infection on most areas of the skin, including their forehead.
These spots usually look like acne and may have red rings around them. They can also be itchy or tender.
Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritating substance. This substance can damage skin cells or cause an allergic reaction.
This condition can cause the skin to become red or puffy, while small, red bumps and spots may appear. These areas may burn or itch.
Common causes of contact dermatitis on the face are certain types of skin care products. Medications that people apply directly to the skin can also trigger a reaction.
Milia are usually harmless and can get better without treatment, although it can take several weeks.
Some over-the-counter (OTC) creams and lotions can help with mild or moderate acne. Some of the ingredients to look out for include:
Retinoids are a vitamin A treatment that helps skin cells grow and repair. Some cream, gel, and liquid skin care products contain retinoids.
Sometimes products that contain retinoids can cause side effects such as dryness, redness, and itching.
Salicylic acid can reduce puffiness and redness, and help open pores. However, the work can take several weeks.
Some people who use salicylic acid may experience side effects such as skin irritation or stinging.
Azelaic acid is a chemical that can reduce swelling and redness. However, in people with dark skin, the skin color may sometimes change.
Possible side effects of azelaic acid include:
If the environment doesn’t improve, dermatologists may recommend tretinoin cream, a type of retinoid that is available as a prescription medicine. However, it is not suitable for use during pregnancy.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), doctors may also recommend prescription retinoids or other acne treatments in severe cases. Other options can be antibiotics or steroid injections.
Oral contraceptives can help people with acne during their menstrual cycle.
Doctors may also recommend a steroid cream for contact dermatitis. In more severe cases, they can prescribe a brief treatment with steroid tablets or injections.
The following cosmetic procedures are available to treat forehead bumps. However, they are not suitable for pregnant people.
If the environment doesn’t improve, dermatologists sometimes suggest cryotherapy. This technique involves freezing the skin to expose the dead skin cells that make up the milia. The procedure takes about 1 to 3 hours and can feel uncomfortable, with people typically taking 1 to 3 days to recover.
People with severe acne sometimes undergo photodynamic therapy, which uses light to destroy skin cells that have been damaged by light. Doctors usually recommend this procedure for skin cancer, and it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 18 hours.
Possible side effects of photodynamic therapy are:
Most people experience dryness and sunburn in the affected area after treatment. However, over-the-counter medications can help relieve the pain. Doctors advise people to stay out of the sun for 24 to 48 hours after receiving photodynamic therapy.
Chemical peels are another option for acne. The procedure involves a dermatologist using a chemical solution to remove the topmost layers of skin.
People who undergo this procedure usually have some redness afterwards. Doctors advise people to stay away from the sun for a few days or weeks after a chemical peel.
Folliculitis usually improves without treatment. However, applying a warm compress three to four times a day for 15 to 20 minutes may relieve symptoms.
Sometimes shaving, plucking, or waxing can cause folliculitis. In this case, experts recommend avoiding such activities for at least 30 days.
There are simple steps people can take to keep acne from getting worse or from coming back.
You can keep the skin clean to make sure the pores don’t get clogged.
The AAD also recommends washing and hydrating every day after you wake up, before bed, and after sweating to remove any dead skin cells that contribute to acne.
Items like pillow cases and hats can transfer sweat to the face, clog pores, and make acne worse. A person should always use clean pillowcases, sweatbands, and headbands.
Most small forehead bumps, including milia, acne, and folliculitis, go away without treatment. However, their symptoms can sometimes lead to discomfort.
People should speak to a doctor if symptoms affect their daily lives.
A person should see an emergency doctor if a procedure or medical treatment causes symptoms, such as:
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Rash or hives
- Fatigue or extreme tiredness
- a headache
- Hearing loss
- Buzzing or ringing in the ears
- rapid breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
Various skin conditions can cause small bumps on the forehead. However, these bumps are usually harmless.
Maintaining healthy skin can help prevent many of the causes of forehead bumps. OTC and prescription drugs, as well as cosmetic procedures, are available if those bumps don’t improve without treatment.
If a person has concerns about their skin imperfections or related symptoms, they should speak to a doctor.