From spots to skin tags… what the bumps on your skin really mean – and the ones that should never be popped

NOT all spots are the same.

Some are caused by thing's we've eaten or poor skin care regimes, while others turn up seemingly at random.

The best way to start treating facial bumps is to identify what type you're dealing with – and what's causing it.

Celebrity esthetician and skincare expert Renée Rouleau has been discussing the various blemishes that can crop up on the skin.

Writing on her blog, she discussed the four main type of skin bump.

Renée said: "When it comes to bumps on your skin, it can be difficult to know what they are because there are so many possibilities.

"But knowing what you’re dealing with is an important first step and will help you determine the best course of treatment."


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These are "hard, tiny bumps on the skin that appear when keratin and hardened oil gets trapped below the skin's surface," Renée said.

That hardened oil gives the little spots their off-white colour.

They most commonly gather around the eyes, nose and cheeks.

While Renée says that she's noticed smokers often developing milia as a result of smoke billowing up near the eyes, milia can occur from a number of different factors, including sun damage, steroid use or using heavy creams around the eye area.

How to deal with them:

Because these lumps tend to stay under the skin rather than breaking through the surface, they can be a little tricky to extract.

Renée said: "You should not try to extract them yourself. You’ll only end up damaging your skin.

"Instead, have them removed by a licensed professional."

A professional will either freeze your lumps off or piece them before squeezing the hardened oil out.

Either way, you can't really DIY that kind of extraction…particularly on skin so close to your eyes.

Closed comedones

These are clogged up pores which, which if left untreated, can turn into inflamed acne.

They're usually caused by oily skin or too-heavy products clogging the pores.

How to deal with them:

Your best bet is to head to a facialist who can extract the pus using exfoliated acids.

But if you do wanted to try treating it yourself, Renée recommends using "a serum specifically with salicylic acid (BHA), since it is oil-soluble, can penetrate the pore lining better than other types of acids".

Skin growths

These tend to be harmless, small, flat or round flesh-coloured bumps on the skin which never come to a head and don't contain any oil.

As you age, you tend to develop more of them – particularly after the age of 35.

So, what are these little blips made from?

Renée said the bumps are "generally made up of excess skin or enlarged oil glands that appear as raised bumps on the skin and are impossible to hide with makeup".

"Over time, skin growths thicken and get larger, eventually turning into skin tags or a number of other skin conditions: seborrheic keratoses, hyperkeratosis, actinic keratoses (pre-cancerous cells) and sebaceous hyperplasia, to name a few," Renée said.

They're caused by sun damage, aging and hormones and the only way to get rid is to have them removed by a dermatologist while they're still small.

How to deal with them:

While you can't do much about aging or genetics, you can vow to wear sunscreen every day, as well as regularly applying exfoliating acids and retinol, products.

Skin tags

These are the dark soft bits of skin that are usually connected via a small stem.

They're made up of fat and tissue and they can appear anywhere on the face or body.

We don't really know what causes them yet but Renée suggests that things like friction from things constantly rubbing against the body – like necklaces – and hormones could be to blame.

Renée also suggested that they may also be caused by insulin-related disorders.

In fact, some studies have shown that as few as three skin tags are linked to an increased risk of diabetes.

Research also shows that those with skin tags have higher cholesterol, higher blood sugar and a higher level of fat in the blood (triglycerides) all of which are risk factors for both diabetes and coronary disease.

How to deal with them:

You could have yours frozen off but skin tags do tend to fall off in time anyway.

But if you do have a few skin tags, it may be worth having your blood sugar checked out, just in case.

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