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How to get rid of forehead acne

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Acne on the forehead is a common skin complaint typified by red bumps and spots along the hairline extending downwards towards the eyebrows.

These hard red bumps are called papules, and sometimes they can fill with pus and appear yellow, forming pustules.

There are many reasons why you might develop forehead acne, and different ways of tackling it. Here’s our lowdown on everything you need to know on forehead acne.

What causes forehead acne?

Like acne that develops anywhere on the face, chest or back, forehead acne is primarily caused by excess sebum. Sebum is a natural wax like oil that is produced by glands within the skin called sebaceous glands. It helps to keep the skin hydrated and supple.

In some people, sebum is produced in excess and when this happens it can block the pores in the skin. Blocked pores mean that the dirt, old makeup and cellular debris that can collect in the pores has nowhere to go. This then leads to a buildup of dirt and excess sebum, leading to acne spots and breakouts.

Why do I have acne on my forehead?

But what causes excess sebum? This can be down to a number of factors, including genetics, a hormonal imbalance and lifestyle factors such as eating foods that trigger your skin to flare up, stress and not getting enough sleep.

Can forehead acne be hormonal?

Yes, in fact, a lot of the time, acne down to excess sebum is caused by a hormone imbalance. This can be down to puberty in younger people, but on the whole, women tend to suffer the effects of a hormonal imbalance on the skin more than men.

This is down to having periods, pregnancy, going through the menopause and suffering from conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - which are all linked to surges and cyclical drops in hormones.

In most cases, forehead acne caused by hormones is due to an excess in male hormones (even in females) called androgens, that lead to an increase in sebum production.

Does hair on your forehead cause acne?

Yes, having a fringe or a hairstyle that sweeps over your forehead can mean that it’s causing your forehead acne.

This is because the hair naturally contains oils that keep the hair nourished. These oils can then collect on the skin, and much in the same way as excess sebum, can block the pores, leading to acne spots. This will be especially the case if your hair is naturally very oily, or you don’t wash your hair very often.

If you have forehead acne, you may have restyled your hair to help cover it up, but this causes a vicious cycle of adding more oil to the skin, causing your forehead acne to appear worse.

Be mindful of the products you use on your hair too. You may take extra special care to avoid oil based products on your skin if your skin is quite oily. But adding oils and serums to your hair will make its way onto your forehead skin making your acne worse.

It’s best to avoid hair on your face altogether, but if you’d prefer to wear a fringe, make sure you wash your hair regularly and avoid using oily hair styling products.

Can stress cause forehead acne?

Stress can cause acne to become worse anywhere on the face or body, including the forehead. It’s not yet fully understood why stress can cause acne, but it’s thought to be connected to the relationship between stress hormones and the release of excess sebum.

Indirectly linked with stress is the habit some of us have of touching our faces. If our hands are dirty, and we’re constantly touching our face or rubbing our brow, we can add more dirt to already blocked pores, causing further acne breakouts.

How to clear forehead acne

Here at Sönd, we believe in a holistic approach to skincare above all else. This means that before trying harsh, medicated skin products or oral medications to treat acne, including acne on the forehead, it pays to look at other ways.

These include looking at your diet, lifestyle factors such as stress, balancing your hormones and switching to alkaline skin care specifically designed to help treat skin affected by acne and other common skin problems.

If after a few months, your forehead acne is still the same, then you could think about using topical creams and ointments or oral medications to help treat your non-conformist skin.

We have plenty of information on using topical creams and ointments such as topical retinoids and antibiotics, and medications such as the contraceptive pill and oral antibiotics. What works best for you may be a cse of trial and error, and your doctor or pharmacist can advise further, relating to your skin type and medical history.

This advice remains the same, no matter the cause of your forehead acne. The only difference being, if your forehead acne is caused by having a fringe, you will benefit from growing out your fringe and otherwise keeping your hair clipped or brushed back from your forehead.

How to get rid of cystic acne on the forehead

Cystic acne is often considered the most severe form of acne, as it’s typified by pus filled, yellow topped spots called pustules that develop when the sebaceous glands become blocked. This creates angy, often painful pustules that can cluster in patches on the face including the forehead.

This type of acne may be severe, but it is still possible to manage it holistically and with the right skincare.

However, it may mean that you do need to tackle cystic acne using the topical ointments and oral medications mentioned above. Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you’d like to try any of these as they can recommend the best course of treatment depending on your skin type.

How to get rid of acne bumps on forehead

Using a product that contains salicylic acid can help to reduce the bumps on your forehead caused by acne.

Salicylic acid is found in many different types of skincare and effectively removes the top layer of skin (much like an exfoliant would, only more effectively) helping to clear blocked pores and improve the appearance of the skin.

Using salicylic acid to treat acne on the face helps lots of people suffering with non-conformist skin and it can help to reduce the appearance of spots and bumps on the forehead.

How to get rid of forehead acne overnight

Just as with treating acne anywhere else on the body, including on the face and back acne, there is no overnight miracle cure that treats forehead acne.

But that doesn't mean it can be cured, it just means it takes time and dedication. By following our advice on practical and holistic measures to help manage your forehead acne, and if necessary other measures involving topical treatments and oral medications, you will get clearer skin.

And you won’t need that fringe to cover up that forehead acne anymore!


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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