Bumps on Forehead: Here’s How to Get Rid of Them (The Smart Way)

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So, we’ve ALL at some point had some form of acne—right?

It’s a rite of passage to adulthood, and with the passage of time (and the correct skincare products) most of us eventually conquer them—

The keyword here being eventually.

Some of us are still struggling with the most frustrating acne of all—annoying little bumps on forehead that seem to pop up for no reason, but just don’t go away.

They’re super tricky and super stubborn because they don’t respond to the ‘typical’ acne treatments and yet never seem to change—what gives?

If this photo looks really similar to what you’re dealing with, you’re in the right place…

There are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of us that have furiously Googled…

  • “small bumps on forehead”
  • “red bumps on forehead”
  • “how to get rid of bumps on forehead”

The good news?

We’ve got all the answers together in one place so that you can clear up your skin—finally.

And for men worried about the idea that skincare is ‘girly’ or something—it’s really not, it’s just as crucial to personal hygiene as brushing your teeth.

Would you skip brushing your teeth? I didn’t think so. (Also, that’s nasty if you would.)

What causes a bumpy forehead?

There are two likely conditions that are causing the little bumps on forehead that you’re struggling with.

Reason one: Subclinical acne, which is basically a way to describe a baby pimple. It’s also known as a closed comedone. The thing is, for some reason these pimples just… stay the same, instead of becoming inflamed, poppable acne.

Reason Two: You might be dealing with fungal acne. If you’re using a lot of traditional acne treatments and nothing is working to change your skin, there’s a high chance that you’re actually dealing with fungal acne. Fungal acne is caused by a yeast/fungus (somehow, that sounds grosser than just plain bacteria) and requires a different treatment approach.

Subclinical acne: What you need to know

Subclinical acne can be thought of as baby pimples, or pre-pimples.

It’s just the initial clogging of the pore that may or may not lead to inflammatory acne, aka acne vulgaris.

Some skincare professionals also call this “comedonal acne” or “whiteheads”—while all pore blockages are technically ‘comedones’, what makes these different is that they’re closed comedones, unlike blackheads which are open comedones.

In this illustration, it looks like the middle pore:

skin pores

(Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Blausen_0811_SkinPores.png)

These are the signs of subclinical acne/closed comedones:

  • Smaller bumps causing visible texture
  • Flesh-colored with no apparent head
  • Not painful or tender
  • Shallow and superficial

If you tick off all four of these, then boom—you have your answer.

However, they are harder to treat because they’re closed pores, unlike blackheads which are open comedones that can be extracted (plus, topical treatments can actually dissolve into them faster).

How do you treat subclinical acne?

Closed comedones are persistent, I’ll give them that—but they’re definitely not incurable.

So how does someone tackle congestion like this?

How can we get rid of these tiny bumps on forehead, once and for all?

Well, a comedone is a clogged pore. When we really cut down into it, a clogged pore is basically a blockage that’s made up of a collection of sebum and dead skin cells, with maybe some bacteria thrown in.

That means our goal is to dissolve both the sebum and dead skin for a smooth, bump-free forehead.

There are two crucial steps to take to see results...

Step #1: Deep Oil Cleansing to Banish Forehead Bumps


What’s perfect for dissolving sebum.

MORE oil.

Yes, that’s right—not using oils on the skin is an outdated school of thought for skincare these days, and cleansing oils have shot up in popularity for their ability to gently but thoroughly cleanse the skin.

They apply with an oily texture, but emulsify with water and rinse cleanly away— no messy business here!

When a cleansing oil is massaged into the skin, it grabs onto any excess oils and works to soften congestion over time for skin that’s free of any rough, bumpy texture.

So, it’s less oily and less congested—I don’t know about you, but that’s what I call a win-win!



Step #2: Exfoliation for Getting Rid of Small Bumps on Forehead

So now that we’ve taken care of pore-blocking sebum, there’s the other issue of how to deal with our dead skin contributing to the tiny bumps on forehead.

While most of us have had run-ins with facial scrubs before (it’s worth pointing out that facial scrubs are not the best for us, according to skincare experts), that isn’t the kind of exfoliation that’s needed to really get into and dissolve the skin cell build-up.

So, what kind of exfoliants DO work?

  • Salicylic
  • Glycolic
  • Lactic acid

These exfoliants loosen the bonds between skin cells, encouraging them to slough off the skin instead of hanging around and blocking pores.

When it comes to a bumpy forehead, a product with salicylic acid is your best bet—it’s more oil-soluble than the other kinds, meaning it can get deeper into your pores for better, smoother results.

The best form for an exfoliating product to take is a toner

Toner can be patted on or swiped with a cotton pad to targeted areas—in this case, your forehead. They also tend to be more concentrated than medicated face washes with these ingredients, which ensures better results.  

The last thing that you need is a little bit of time.

Skin turnover can take from 28-40 days, so you’re not going to see results in the matter of a week, unfortunately!

But keep pushing through and your forehead bumps are sure to be gone in no time. There’s another plus side—salicylic acid can help regulate oil production, so if you’re self-conscious about a shiny face, this is the perfect product for you.

Our Picks for Acne Treatment

Other Causes of Comedonal Acne

Sometimes, there are super simple reasons why you could have persistent forehead congestion—and they’re not the ones you’ve even considered, like…

Hair Styling Products – For guys, some styling products tend to be on the waxier side—while that’s great for styling hair, it sometimes means that they contain ingredients that are comedogenic for skin, ie, causing breakouts. Eliminate your usual styling products for a while and see if that makes a difference. You would be surprised by how products can transfer to your forehead from your scalp and hair!

Bangs/Fringe – Bangs cause forehead bumps—and yes, that’s even if you don’t use styling products in them! If you don’t wash your hair every day, oil from your scalp could transfer to your forehead, adding excess oil and congestion.

The solution?

Short of cutting them off, try to keep them off your face as much as possible to avoid any transfer or contact between your hair and skin, especially during exercise—hair is the perfect medium for trapping excess sweat and oil to pores, creating the very bumps that you’re trying to get rid of!

After all of that if your forehead bumps are still hanging around, it’s time to up the ante and consider the possibility that you’re actually dealing with fungal acne…

Wait, what’s fungal acne?

What’s tricky about fungal acne is it looks the same as forehead bumps caused by regular acne, but they’re not the same.

Frustrating, right?

The key difference is the fact that fungal acne is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast that naturally occurs on our skin, instead of bacteria.

Specifically, it’s caused by the Malassezia yeast, and the condition is called Malassezia Folliculitis.

Trying to treat fungal acne with the same methods as regular acne is kind of like trying to treat a virus with antibiotics—it’s just not going to work.

So, if you’re still trying to get rid of your forehead bumps, but after a few months they’re still hanging around, it could be fungal acne.

This can become a vicious cycle when antibiotics are prescribed for acne—without the balance of good bacteria on the skin, Malassezia can get out of control, leading to unbridled fungal acne.

Another tell that your bumps on forehead (not pimples!) are actually fungal acne is that they’re itchy.

Because regular comedonal acne isn’t inflammatory, it shouldn’t itch. (Go here to learn more about skin inflammation and hydrogen)

So the checklist for fungal acne looks like this:

  • Smaller bumps causing visible texture
  • Flesh-colored with no apparent head
  • Not painful or tender
  • Shallow and superficial
  • Itchy, especially after sweating/exercise

If all of these sound familiar, it’s likely you’ve got some Malassezia issues going on.

So how do you get rid of the tiny bumps on forehead caused by it?

This little yeast actually loves sebum—yep, that’s right.

The natural oils we produce on our skin are one of their preferred food sources, so it’s no wonder they sometimes get out of hand if they basically have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet!

The thing is, it’s just not feasible to get rid of sebum on our skin—it’s an essential part of our skin’s health.

The solution? Anti-dandruff shampoo.

Hear me out—in studies where suspected cases of fungal acne were treated with ketoconazole, a common anti-fungal in anti-dandruff shampoo, the presence of forehead bumps decreased by more than 50%!

It’s suggested to use dandruff shampoo as a wash-off mask of sorts, leaving it on targeted areas for five minutes then rinse off daily until the bumps are under control.


Other than ketoconazole, other great over-the-counter antifungals are zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide. They’re both found in anti-dandruff shampoos and specifically target fungal overgrowth.

Because fungal acne is caused by an organism, not true pore blockage, the results will be seen much faster as the Malassezia gets killed off and reveals smooth, bump-free forehead skin.

How to Stop Fungal Acne from Coming Back

There are some other tips and tricks that you can do to stop it from coming back, too. While keeping your favorite fungal-acne treatment on hand will help, you might have some habits that are contributing to your bumpy forehead.

Stop Wearing Sweaty Headgear

Malassezia thrives in sweaty environments, that’s why some folks find that their forehead bumps come and go with the seasons. If you’re into working out or playing a sport that requires headgear, be aware of cleansing your headbands and wiping away sweat as frequently as possible to avoid creating the perfect living environment for fungus!

Preferably, one would avoid sweating completely but that’s just not feasible if you’re trying to maintain an active lifestyle—so ensuring that sweat is wiped away as soon as possible is key to keeping skin clear and bump-free.

To Wrap It All Up…

Knowing how to get rid of tiny bumps on forehead is really as simple as following ‘if this, then that’ logic.

It doesn’t have to be hard, but best of all, knowing the source of your forehead bumps makes treating them a piece of cake!

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