A reader asked what causes bumps under the eyes that look like "chicken skin". The skin under the eyes can have bumps for several reasons and I'm often asked about them. I answer the reader in this article.
Dear Dr. Bailey, I am wondering if you can recommend a product for me. I am 50 years old. About a year ago, I tried a new product that was supposed to target wrinkles under the eyes. After a week of using this product, the pores under my eyes got clogged. They now look like chicken skin. You can't squeeze the pores. They are bumps. Other than this, my skin looks great. Would a serum or cream with retinol a be better to use at night? Can you recommend a Retinol product that I should try? Sincerely, Gina P.
Hello Gina, The solution to treating bumps under the eyes needs to start with an accurate diagnosis, which means a trip to a dermatologist! The reason is that there are several other alternative causes of "bumps" under the eyes, and they are more common than clogged pores in this area. Ask them about the common causes of bumps under the eyes.
Common causes of bumps on the lower eyelid skin:
1. Oil glands
These are also known as sebaceous glands. There are many sebaceous glands in this area of skin. They become visible when the eyelid skin thins with age or becomes dark due to circles under the eye. They can look like "chicken skin" under the eyes - I love that description! You can see some of them in the image at the top of this page
These are actually benign tumors of the sweat glands. To remove or reduce these in size requires surgical or laser treatment.
These are tiny white cysts that can form anywhere, including the eyelids. They can easily be lanced by someone trained in blood-born precautions (e.g., medical personnel). The picture at the top of this page has white milia which you can see as the larger bumps. This is in contrast to the oil glands seen as the smaller bumps.
Is there a real difference between a serum and a cream?
As for the difference between a serum and cream, it's actually not a hard and fast difference. Nor is there a precise definition. In fact, the term is often randomly selected by the product company for market niche purposes!
To really evaluate the pore-clogging capacity of a product, you have to read the label. Look for comedogenic ingredients, which I list here. Know that even this is not something that is well defined or absolute.
Retinol can help reduce the appearance of bumps under the eyes
Retinol is a retinoid and retinoids are capable of doing three important jobs to reduce the appearance of bumps under the eyes:
- Retinol exfoliates skin to help milia open, soften and release the white contents in these mini cysts.
- Retinol helps stimulate collagen renewal to thicken the skin so that oil glands don't show through the skin as prominently.
- Retinol will lighten undereye dark circles to reduce the color contrast between white bumps and hyperpigmented skin.
Best eye cream for chicken skin under the eyes
Treating your eye area with a really great eye cream is a great way to take care of this delicate area of your facial skin. My Advanced Corrective Eye Repair Cream has the right amount of retinol for the eye area combined with other skin brighteners and ingredients to reduce undereye circles and puffiness. It is an opaque product that looks creamy, hence the term "cream." But it is light-weight and oil free. People love my eye cream. I wear it every day and love it too.
I have been looking for a high quality eye cream that actually reduces puffiness and fine lines without an exorbitant price. Dr. Bailey’s Advanced Correction Eye Cream fills the bill. It’s lightweight and has a great, pump container that keeps the product fresh and ready for use at a moment’s notice. I noticed that the area around my eyes looked brighter, firmer and fresher right after the first use. Thank you for the great product, Dr. Bailey! MR
Retinol can irritate under eye skin
It's important to use only a retinol product designed for the eye area because all retinoids can cause skin irritation. You need to figure out the right strength for your eyelid skin. Avoid using a retinol product that's too strong for your delicate eye area because it can lead to irritation, which unfortunately can lead to milia formation.
The retinol level in my Advanced Corrective Eye Cream is right for most people's skin.
Take this information to your dermatologist and ask them to diagnose exactly why your undereye skin has "bumps" that look like "chicken skin". This is the best way to start treating this "chicken skin" bump problem under your eyes! Your doctor may even be able to lance milia, cauterize or use a laser on syringomas and/or have other procedures that can treat stubborn bumps.
Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist
Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.