Get Email Updates

Beauty Guide

Cary Cook BSN RN

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

What Are Those Eye Bumps?

By Cathy Enns
Rate This

If you have little bumps under your eyes, it’s a good bet they puzzle you. What are they? Where did they come from? Can anything be done about them?

There’s more than one culprit at work. The first is something everyone deals with as they age — thinning skin around the eyes. As you probably know, the skin surrounding your eyes is delicate even when you’re young. As you age, this skin becomes thinner. That’s why crow’s feet are some of the first signs of aging many people notice. Thin skin is also a factor in problems under the eye — including dark circles, puffiness and little bumps — as skin that has grown thin can no longer cover and keep what’s underneath in check (Karinb 1).

Sometimes, what’s underneath your eyes can show up as little bumps. These typically occur in the tear troughs that trail down alongside the nose from your tear ducts. The second culprit, or what's actually behind—or inside—those bumps may be a little harder to figure out. There are three leading possibilities.


Milia are tiny white cysts often found on the faces of infants and sometimes adults. These bumps occur at the base of hair follicles. They are caused by keratin (a substance your skin produces) or other debris that clogs pores.

When milia appear on the faces of infants, the condition most often clears up by itself. Unfortunately this isn’t the case most of the time for adults.

Although milia are harmless, some people decide to have them removed. Options for treatment include retinoid creams, dermabrasion or chemical peels and simple piercing and extraction (SkinSight 1).


Syringomas are another kind of bump that can form under the skin around the eyes. They differ from milia in appearance in that they are often a little larger and they are not white or yellowish in color.

Syringomas are caused by excess growth of sweat gland cells. Like milia they are benign, but your doctor may want to perform a biopsy to make sure there’s no sign of skin cancer.

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Milia are tiny little white bumps or cysts that appear under the skin that both adults and children can get. They may resemble acne pimples, but they are really a completely different type of skin breakout.They may appear as reddened or inflamed spots, as well as the usual tiny white or yellow colored bumps. They are about one or two millimeters in size and can show up as single bumps or in clusters.

What causes Milia?
Milia are caused by dead skin cells that are trapped on the surface of the person’s skin. They often appear around the eyes, nose and sometimes near chin and can be caused by things such as too much exposure to the sun or by exfoliating the skin too roughly. Babies can even get them on their face from birth trauma, but adults get them in the area of their sweat glands.
Milia are non contagious, painless and completely harmless, but many people don’t want them on their skin and they seek to remove them either at home or by a doctor.

January 6, 2012 - 2:12am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



2953 Health


1750 Lives


1630 Lives
70 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Need Your Feedback! What health topics would you like to see covered more on
View Results