What Are the Causes of Small Bumps Around the Eyes?

Small bumps around the eyes are quite common, and they can be caused by many things. These bumps can affect anyone, from toddlers to the elderly, and they are relatively harmless.

Woman's eye with white bumps under eyes

However, white bumps near the eyes can cause concern for many people. Many people worry that they are a sign of a more severe illness. Usually, they are a benign skin condition, but that doesn’t prevent people from becoming panicked.

White or yellow bumps in the eye region can also be unsightly. This can affect self-confidence, and even be a source of embarrassment for some people. Naturally, those suffering from them will often search for ways to cure them and get rid of them, fast.

In this article, you’ll find out the causes of small white bumps around the eyes. We’ll also look at ways to remove them, to restore your self-confidence and set your mind at ease.

What Are These Small Bumps Around the Eyes?

It’s natural to wonder what exactly these small bumps are, and what is causing them. The answers are simple – and thankfully, they’re not usually associated with any serious medical conditions.

The most common reasons are underlying conditions like milia, syringoma, and chalazia. They could also appear as a result of cosmetics or sun damage. The white bumps you’re worried about could even be something as innocuous as a pimple or a skin tag, in some cases.

None of these causes is a reason for concern. You should only be worried if the bumps are interfering with your vision or causing you any discomfort. In this case, you should visit a medical professional to see how the bumps can be removed or reduced quickly.

What Are the Causes of Bumps Near the Eyes?

Here’s a more detailed look at the causes of white or yellow bumps in the eye area:


Milia is perhaps the most common cause of small bumps around the eyes. They are small, keratin-filled bumps which appear as a result of the skin being unable to exfoliate itself properly. Dead skin cells become trapped in the upper layers of the skin, creating the appearance of small white bumps.

There are lots of different types of milia, including:

  • Neonatal milia – a condition which affects up to 40% of newborn babies. Tiny cysts can appear on the face, scalp and upper body. This will heal on its own given time.
  • Juvenile milia – caused by genetic conditions like Gardner syndrome and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.
  • Primary milia – perhaps the most common form of milia, this is when keratin is trapped beneath the surface of the skin.
  • Milia en plaque – associated with autoimmune disorders like lupus.
  • Traumatic milia – this can occur if you’ve experienced an injury to the skin in a certain area. If you have had a severe rash or experienced burns, you may be at risk of developed traumatic milia.
  • Drug-related milia – overuse of steroid creams can lead to milia – however, this is quite a rare phenomenon.

Milia is quite common in newborn babies. This is because their skin is still learning how to exfoliate itself. If it doesn’t exfoliate itself properly, the small, harmless bumps will start to form. They usually appear on the chin, nose, and cheeks of young babies.

It is recommended that you don’t treat milia in babies and children at all. It will go away on its own as the skin learns to exfoliate itself. If you remove the milia manually, the baby may be at risk of reoccurrence in the future, as the skin doesn’t learn to exfoliate itself naturally.

It’s recommended that you simply keep the baby’s face clean and dry. Avoid using any heavy oils, moisturizers or lotions, as these can affect the skin’s capacity to exfoliate itself. The milia should clear up over time – if it doesn’t show any sign of healing in a matter of weeks, see a doctor.

However, adults can also get milia – and there’s no indication that men or women are more at risk of developing the bumps. In adults, they mostly appear under the eyes, where the skin is thinner and harder to exfoliate naturally.

Milia shouldn’t hurt or cause any discomfort, but you may feel embarrassed about them and want to get rid of them.

For adults, there are ways you can speed up the healing process. Mild exfoliating products that are suitable for use in the eye region can get rid of milia quickly. You should also use a moisturizer that contains vitamin A, of which there are many available.

As with babies, if the adult milia don’t seem to be responding to any treatments, and isn’t clearing up on its own, consult a medical professional. They will be able to introduce you to a range of other options that can help speed up the process, including topical creams or gels, chemical peels or laser therapy.

Skin Tags

Milia or skin tags on the face

Skin tags are harmless benign growths that can appear anywhere on the body. It’s common for skin tags to appear around the eyes, which can be uncomfortable for the suffers. They usually appear as flesh-colored pieces of skin – sometimes they cluster together, which can be embarrassing and noticeable.

Nobody really knows what causes skin tags to form on the eyelash line, nor do they know why some people get them and others don’t. Some experts believe they’re caused by skin folds rubbing against each other. There could be some genetic factors in play, too.

The best way to prevent skin tags from occurring is to try and ensure there’s not so much friction between your skin folds. It might be that losing weight helps, or you could apply some absorbent powder to the area to wick away moisture when you can.

If you do develop a skin tag or a cluster of them, there are treatments out there to help. Tea tree oil is a popular choice for many people trying to get rid of skin tags – but it’s important to be very careful when applying it around the eyes.

The ‘tying-off’ method is also quite popular among those who would prefer to deal with the problem at home. This involves stopping the blood supply to the skin tag and causing it to drop off harmlessly. The process has been made easier by the introduction of the TagBand device.

TagBand Skin Tag Removal Device for Medium to Large Skin Tags
  • TagBand's innovative design works fast to remove skin tags!
  • Permanent results after just one application

If your skin tag becomes infected, or if the skin tags around your eyes are obstructing your vision, always see a medical professional to get their verdict.

Here is an in-depth guide to the causes of eyelid skin tags.


Chalazia are clogged oil glands around the eye, which can present as a white bump under the eyelid or near the eyelid. These can often start out quite painful, leading many people to believe that they’re harmful, or a sign of a serious illness. Over time, chalazia may grow slightly larger, but ironically, become less painful as they grow.

Chalazia don’t usually need treatment – like milia; they heal on their own if left to their own devices. However, as with milia, if you are in pain or discomfort, or the chalazia are affecting your vision, please see a medical professional for their opinion.


If the bumps around your eyes are slightly more yellow in appearance, there’s a chance it could be xanthelasma. These are mostly made up of cholesterol, and they can act as an important warning sign of raised cholesterol in the body.

Xanthelasma is usually painless. The yellow bumps are fatty deposits that sit beneath the skin. The issue affects women more than men – especially women aged forty or over. Xanthelasma can also be hereditary, so if your mother or father has experienced it during their lifetime, there’s a chance you will, too. The condition is said to be more common among those of Asian and Mediterranean descent, but experts are unsure why.

Xanthelasma itself is quite harmless – but if you’re concerned about your cholesterol levels, you should take action. See a doctor to have your blood cholesterol tested and implement a healthy eating plan to bring your cholesterol levels down.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia

This is another benign skin condition and can cause lesions to appear on the face that is typically yellow in appearance, soft, and small. They are commonly found along the nose, cheeks, and forehead.

Acne and oily skin are two of the most common reasons you may experience sebaceous hyperplasia. Sebum becomes trapped inside the glands, and this sebum causes significant swelling which then forms a bump under the skin.

There are a variety of treatment options available for these small bumps including carbon dioxide laser surgery, shave excision and cryosurgery. However, when treating these lesions and bumps, you may be left with some scarring as a result of their treatment and removal.


Eye makeup which causes small bumps under the eyes

If you use eye makeup or any oily cosmetics on a regular basis, they could be responsible for the white bumps around your eyes as well as clogged pores.

Heavy eye creams, oils, eyeshadows, and other eye makeup products can cause or exacerbate milia around the eyes, especially if you’re already prone to developing small white spots on face.

It’s also essential to ensure that you’re taking your makeup off properly every evening before you go to sleep. If you don’t, you could risk clogging up the oil glands around the eyelids, which, as we now know, leads to chalazia. Always use a quality makeup remover, and make sure all your cosmetic products are suitable for your skin type.

Sun Damage

We all know how important it is to protect your skin against damage caused by the sun’s rays. It turns out sun damage can also be responsible for causing those white lumps beneath the eyes.

Sun exposure has a terrible effect on the skin, causing a range of issues from sunburn and wrinkles to skin cancer. It can also cause the skin around the eyes to thicken slightly, creating perfect conditions for milia to form.

If you’ve recently come back from a sunshine-filled holiday, or if you live in a particular hot country, you could be at increased risk of milia unless you protect your skin with a decent SPF. Not only will this reduce your risk of skin cancer, but it’ll also keep milia at bay, too.


There’s also a very small risk that the white spots around your eyes could be pimples. Pimples are caused when the pores become clogged with sebum, the natural oil that your skin secretes. Dirt and bacteria can also be responsible for causing pimples.

Pimples are usually much bigger than milia. They usually have a slightly yellow appearance and will be raised from the skin. They can also contain white pus. Pimples are not harmful, but like many bumps on the skin, they can be embarrassing.

You may get regular pimples for a number of reasons. Your skin may be particularly prone to acne, or perhaps your hormonal fluctuations are causing the pimples. If the pimples around your eyes are causing you real discomfort, see our doctor about options for treating acne.

The cause of small bumps near the eyes

How To Get Rid Of Yellow Or White Bumps Close to the Eyes

Now that you know what’s causing the white bumps around your eyes, you’ll be more prepared to treat them. The treatment options available depend on the cause of the white bumps – here are some of the most popular measures you can take to get rid of these unsightly bumps.

  • If skin tags are your problem, apply natural treatments like Australian tea tree oil to the area with a cotton swab.
  • If you want to know how to remove skin tags, there are also mole and wart removal creams that work. Always be careful when applying creams or solutions around the eye area.
  • If you suffer from adult milia, choose skin care products that contain salicylic acid. These can help effectively exfoliate the skin and cause the small white bumps to fade.
  • As we’ve mentioned already, babies don’t need any treatment to cure their milia – they should grow out of it in a matter of weeks or months.
  • Retinol creams have been said to help milia but be careful not to use them on the upper eyelid – only underneath the eye.
  • Stay away from thick makeup or creamy products, as they can exacerbate the milia.
  • Exfoliate regularly and gently – don’t use abrasive scrubs when exfoliating, as they can end up doing more harm than good.
  • If you suffer from chalazia, dip a clean flannel or washcloth in warm water. Wring it out and then place over the affected area a few times per day. This can help the glands to become unclogged, and the bumps will eventually fade.
  • If your milia are particularly severe, see a dermatologist. They will be able to pierce the skin with a sterile needle to burst the bump and remove its contents safely. Never attempt to burst or squeeze a milia cyst at home – you could end up making it worse.

Benefits of Exfoliation

As mentioned above, exfoliation is important for our skin health and is an integral step to include in our skin care regime. It is recommended that we exfoliate at least twice weekly to remove dead skin cells sitting on our skin and clogging our pores.

It is also a good way to increase blood circulation and encourage the growth of new skin cells. In addition to weekly exfoliation practices, you should also be sure to drink plenty of water and use a moisturizer to hydrate your skin from the inside out and help with a host of other skin conditions you may experience.

Help Is At Hand For Skin Tags & Other Causes Of Small White Bumps

The main thing to remember when it comes to skin tags, milia, xanthelasma and other causes of small white bumps around the eyes, is that they’re mostly harmless. They won’t cause you any harm, and they’re often not an indicator of something more serious going on.

Of course, if you suffer from xanthelasma, you may want to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels. But apart from that, white bumps around the eyes are nothing that should concern you.

If you wait it out, you might find that your white bumps simply disappear on their own. If you find that the bumps aren’t fading, or are getting worse, see a doctor to discuss treatments.

Future Prevention of Small Bumps Around the Eyes

Now that you are more aware of what those small bumps could be and what might be causing them, you can take a closer look at your eyes and the products you use as an attempt at future prevention.

It is recommended that you refrain from using any overly emollient eye cream because of how sensitive and delicate the skin is around the eyes. These types of creams can prove to be too rich and too oily for the skin and will be absorbed rather quickly.

Instead, you should consider switching from the eye cream to an eye gel that will provide you with a cooling effect and can also help reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness around the eyes. Eye gels are ideal to use throughout the day when sweat and dirt tend to accumulate around your eye area.

Finally, if you are still noticing small bumps around the eyes and they are starting to appear as multiples, and you cannot control them, consider discussing your other options with your dermatologist.

They can offer different treatments and techniques to remove the small bumps including the application of a specific medication to help treat the eye area as well.

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