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When we think about spots, we normally think of them on our face, probably covering our cheeks, hairline, forehead and nose. But sometimes, we get spots along our jawline and it can leave us thinking why on earth we’d be getting acne breakouts there.
Jaw acne isn’t as common as acne elsewhere on the face, but if we’re experiencing it, we’re probably looking for ways to treat it. So here’s the lowdown on jawline acne including what causes it and how to best manage your skin.
What is Jaw Acne?
Jaw acne is a type of acne that causes spots to form along the jaw, as well as on the chin and down the neck.
Like all types of acne, acne on the jaw and neck occurs due to a buildup of dirt, skin bacteria, cellular debris and sebum (the natural oil produced by the skin) in the pores. These pore blockages then become spots - either blackheads, whiteheads or pustules.
Acne on the jaw and neck is less common than other types of acne that affect the face, but it can also be more difficult to treat as skin bacteria along the jawline can become a particular problem.
The Different Types of Acne on the Jawline
Acne on the jawline might all look the same, but actually, there are three distinct types of jaw acne:
- Bacterial jawline acne - the P. acnes bacteria naturally lives on the skin. In some people however, this bacteria grows too much and colonises the skin, building up in the pores. The pores can then become blocked with other substances such as dirt, sebum or dead skin cells, trapping the bacteria which then cause spots and breakouts.
- Hormonal jawline acne - male sex hormones called androgens (testosterone is the most common androgen) are present in both male and female bodies, just to a lesser extent in female bodies. However, hormonal imbalances can cause an increase in androgens in males and females, which then triggers an increase in the level of sebum produced by the skin. This can then clog the pores, trapping dirt and bacteria, leading to jawline acne.
- Mechanical jawline acne - this kind of acne is caused by pressure or friction on the skin. This can be due to resting your chin on your hands a lot, wearing tight fitting collars or chin straps or shaving using an old, dirty or blunt razor.
What Causes Spots Along the Jawline?
Jaw acne causes are varied and include the new phenomenon of the wearing of face masks and coverings and the age-old problems of fluctuating hormones and stress.
Jaw Acne Causes - Mask Wearing
Perhaps it's a good idea to start with the most topical reason for acne along the jawline - the wearing of face masks and coverings.
Since the majority of us have been wearing face masks to go about our normal daily business of shopping, travelling and ordering a coffee, ‘maskne' is a new skin problem.
Maskne, a mashup of the words “mask” and “acne” is a new type of acne caused by wearing face coverings. Wearing a mask or face covering for long periods of time causes friction from the fabric or disposable mask rubbing against the lower half of the face. It also makes us touch our faces more, which can transfer dirt and bacteria to our skin.
Finally in this perfect storm of acne causing ingredients, is the moist, warm conditions caused by wearing a mask that we're breathing into.
Bacteria thrive in these conditions, which can add to the possibility of spots, acne breakouts, redness and irritation. Ideally, change or wash your mask every day.
Incidentally, if you're a cyclist or you ride a motorbike, the chin strap of your helmet could also be causing jawline acne. Make sure you clean the inside of your helmet regularly, paying special attention to the chin area.
Hormonal Jaw Acne
Women are particularly susceptible to hormone related acne around the jaw.
Puberty, periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding and the menopause can all result in hormonal jaw acne as a result of fluctuating hormones.
This is generally to do with rising levels of testosterone, a male hormone or androgen that's present in female bodies too. Rising androgen levels cause an increase in sebum production, the wax-like substance naturally produced by the skin. This causes pore blockages and tell-tale acne spots.
Stress Related Jaw Acne
Stress related jawline acne is also related to hormones. Living a stressful life results in rising levels of a hormone called cortisol.
This results in higher levels of inflammation and a lowered immune response - the perfect combination for stressed out skin and jaw acne.
Breakouts on Jawline - Touching Your Face at Your Desk
Another reason for breakouts on our jawlines is the action of resting our chins on our hands. Our chin and jaw is the most common area of our face to touch or hold with our hands.
Touching our face, especially for long periods of time, transfers whatever we have on our hands, onto our faces. This could be anything from hand cream, to oil from the food we might just have eaten to dirt and bacteria.
Hand cream is often too heavy and oily for the skin on our faces. It can block the pores and lead to acne spots. The same goes for the oil from our lunchtime falafel wrap or chicken sandwich.
Dirt and bacteria are bad news for the skin, where they can become trapped in the pores, leading to acne breakouts on our jawline. This can be especially bad news if we then have to wear a face mask or covering for a while, trapping it on the skin whilst creating a humid environment from our breath becoming trapped behind our mask.
Jawline Acne - Skin Congestion
Many of these causes of jaw acne are caused by congestion on the skin.
Congestion, or blocked pores, can also be caused by dirt and bacteria becoming trapped in the pores by not cleansing the skin properly and applying a heavy moisturiser over the skin, effectively blocking everything in.
Other causes of jaw acne, particularly in men, is the wearing of a shirt with a tight fitting collar, and shaving with an old, dirty or blunt razor. So try to mix up your clothing and replace your razor blade regularly, cleaning it out between shaves.
Causes of Jaw Acne - Medicines
Some common medications, including some types of oral contraceptive pill, corticosteroids and antidepressant medications can be the cause of jawline acne.
These types of medications can lead to an increase in sebum production that can block the pores and cause acne breakouts.
If you’re concerned that your medication is the cause of your jawline acne, speak to your GP. It’s important not to simply stop taking any medication without speaking to a medical professional first.
How to Treat Jawline Acne
There are several things you can do to prevent acne on the jaw, including:
Eat a Healthy Diet Rich in Antioxidants and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A healthy, mostly alkaline diet is essential for our overall health and wellbeing, both physically and emotionally. But a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids is especially beneficial for our skin - great if we have jawline acne. These nutrients help to reduce inflammation and help present congested pores.
Antioxidant rich foods include berries, especially blueberries, and a complete range of different coloured vegetables.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as salmon and mackerel and nuts, in particular, walnuts and almonds.
Avoid Touching Your Face
As much as you can, avoid putting your hands to your face or resting your chin on your hands, especially if your hands are dirty or you’re wearing hand cream.
Even clean hands can transfer bacteria, unseen dirt and oil, which can all upset the skin and cause pore blockages and jawline acne.
Use a Topical Treatment Such as Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid
Jawline acne can be helped by using skincare products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These ingredients work by helping to unblock the pores and reduce inflammation, calming down acne on the jaw.
How to Get Rid of Jaw Acne - Consider Taking a Probiotic Supplement
Probiotics are “good bacteria” that reside in the gut, helping to support good gut and immune health. There is also evidence that probiotics can help to reduce inflammation and keep the skin healthy and clear.
They’re available in supplement form, or you can choose to eat a diet rich in probiotic foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.
The Right Skincare Routine for Jawline Acne
One of the best ways to help manage acne prone skin anywhere on the face or body is to adopt a good skin care regime. One that nourishes and supports the skin, whilst not blocking the pores or overloading them with excess oil.
The Sönd skin care range is based on skin nourishing alkalising silica salts and plant botanicals. We're super proud of our range and we developed it to support all skin types, including those with acne prone skin. Sönd ozonated olive oil is also a great product for treating the skin.
We're also delighted to announce our latest product, the Purifying Clay Face Mask! Developed using zeolite and bentonite clay, it draws impurities from the skin, helping to manage congestion.
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.