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Acne on different parts of face

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In this article

What causes acne on the chin and jawline?
How to get rid of chin and jawline acne
What causes acne around the mouth?
How to treat acne around the mouth? 
What causes acne on the cheeks?
How to get rid of acne on the cheeks? 
Why you might be getting acne on your forehead 
Forehead acne treatments 
What causes acne on the nose?
How to treat acne around the nose 
What causes cystic acne breakouts on the neck?
How to get rid of cystic neck acne 
Getting into a good skincare routine


You might think that having acne prone skin is simply a case of having acne wherever it feels like flaring up on your face. But did you know that acne on various parts of the face could be caused by different reasons? What causes acne on your chin could be down to a totally different reason to why acne spots are developing along your hairline or on your cheeks.

How to treat acne can mean using oral medications to reduce sebum production or help to control the hormones that might be responsible for acne breakouts. It can also mean using topical ointments to kill acne-causing bacteria or clear dead skin cells away from the skin. Or it could mean a combination of medications and topical products alongside a holistic approach to treating face acne.

But there are also some surprising reasons why acne may break out on different areas of your face and some simple ways to help prevent it from happening. Here’s some of the common causes of acne on the chin, cheeks, forehead and nose, and what you can do to help treat these acne breakouts.

What causes acne on the chin and jawline?

It’s commonly a hormonal imbalance that causes acne to form on the chin and jawline. An increase in male hormones called androgens can lead to an increase in sebum production. Sebum is a natural oil produced by the skin. If it’s produced excessively, it can block the pores and lead to acne, most often around the chin and jawline.

Being premenstrual or menopausal can lead to hormonal imbalances, as can being on certain contraceptive pills.

Resting your chin on your hands can also lead to acne in these areas if your hands are dirty or carry bacteria.

It’s also thought that gut health could contribute to acne, particularly around the chin and jawline. Poor gut health can be caused by a diet of processed, sugary, salty and fatty foods, which can then lead to hormonal imbalances.

How to get rid of chin and jawline acne

If you’re regularly getting acne flare ups around your chin and jawline, then you may need medical treatments such as Aldactone or Co-cyprindiol, drugs that help to manage androgen and sebum levels. Topical treatments such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or azelaic acid may also help to treat chin and jawline acne.

Looking at your diet can help too. Try to eliminate processed carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and rice, and other processed, high fat, sugar and salt foods. Reducing your intake of dairy products and meat can help too as these foods can contain traces of animal hormones which can add to your hormonal imbalance.

What causes acne around the mouth?

Acne around the mouth can be caused by regularly touching the skin in this area. Mouth acne can also be caused by using thick, oily lip balms, lipsticks and glosses that can clog the pores.

Eating something that your body is sensitive to can also trigger spots to form around the mouth but if this is the case, it’s less likely to be acne, and more likely to be a skin condition called perioral dermatitis.

How to treat acne around the mouth?

The skin around the mouth can be more sensitive and often, topical acne treatments can’t be used around this area.

Try to limit the amount of times you touch your face with your hands, and make sure your hands are always clean and if you can, free from hand creams and lotions. Use lip balms, lipsticks and glosses minimally – maybe keep them for special occasions and always use one that is non pore blocking or ‘non comedogenic’.

Keep an eye out for trigger foods, and limit the amount of processed and animal-based foods you eat. If you do eat an oily food, make sure you wipe around your mouth afterwards using a clean cloth or face wipe to remove any oil that might be left behind.

What causes acne on the cheeks?

Although acne is often caused by genetic and hormonal reasons, there are some surprising other causes, and they may make you feel a bit queasy.

Acne on the cheeks could be caused by bacteria on the skin that have come from faecal matter. We’ve all heard those reports on the presence of bacteria such as E.coli on our smartphones. E.coli’s natural habitat is the gut, and it exits the body in our faeces.

Taking our phone to the toilet, not washing our hands properly and simply holding onto the handrail on public transport can all transfer faecal bacteria to our hands and phones.

Touching our cheeks and pressing our phones to our faces as we talk into them can transfer these bacteria to our faces, and cause acne breakouts. Sleeping on a pillowcase that hasn’t been changed in a while can do the same. You may notice that your cheek acne is worse on one side – the side you sleep on or hold your phone to.

How to get rid of acne on the cheeks?

Washing your hands regularly, changing your pillow cases weekly and wiping your phone with an antibacterial wipe every day can help get rid of acne breakouts on your cheeks. Plus, avoid the temptation of taking your phone to the toilet with you!

Why you might be getting acne on your forhead

If you have naturally oily hair and you wear it forwards onto your forehead or you have a fringe, it could be causing small acne bumps to form on your forehead. Your choice of haircare products can also be to blame.

Haircare products such as oils, waxes and serums are designed to moisturise the hair – and they do a great job at this. However, what they do for the hair, they also do for the skin. The oils can block the pores on the forehead, which means that the natural skin oils, or sebum, can’t be released. This causes blockages and the red bumpy spots called papules.

The forehead is also where teenage acne usually begins, and forms small red bumps along the hairline and across the forehead.

Forehead acne treatments

The best way to get rid of forehead acne is to keep your hair away from your face. This might mean growing out that new fringe you’ve just had cut in! Also, make sure you wash your hair regularly using a clarifying shampoo which clears away any build up of products. Avoid wearing hats with a tight headband that sits on your forehead, too.

What causes acne on the nose?

The skin on the nose is different from the skin on the rest of the face – it tends to have larger pores that can become blocked with excess sebum more easily, leading to angry red acne spots and bumps on the skin.

A different condition, called acne rosacea, which causes the skin to become red, inflamed and possibly thickened and lumpy can also affect the nose. Our article on acne rosacea will tell you more about the condition and help you find out if you have acne or acne rosacea.

Again, touching your skin can lead to acne on the nose, but acne in this area can also be a sign of hormonal imbalances or a poor diet.

How to treat acne around the nose?

As with any acne, everyone has different skin and there is no one magic acne treatment that helps everyone.

Looking at your diet and enriching it with wholegrains, fruits and vegetables can help treat acne around the nose. If your nose acne flares up around the time of your period you may have a hormonal imbalance which could be helped by drugs such as Aldactone or Co-cyprindiol.

Topical treatments containing sulphur can help to control sebum production when applied to the nose area.

What causes cystic acne breakouts on the neck?

Acne on the back of the neck tends to be cystic acne – that is, acne spots that are filled with pus, called pustules. This is because the skin in this area is thicker and more like the skin on the body than the face, meaning that it produces more sebum.

Wearing tight necked clothing such as roll necks and shirts can irritate the skin on the neck, and provide the right conditions for blocked pores and breakouts.

How to get rid of cystic neck acne?

It can be easy to forget the neck area when you’re showering, so make sure you make a conscious effort to wash around the back of your neck.

If you have long hair that’s naturally oily or that you add serums to, keep it tied up for the majority of the time.

Getting into a good skincare routine

Good skincare doesn’t have to mean a complicated routine using dozens of different products. Try a simple routine of a facial cleanser followed by an alkalising day or night moisturiser twice a day to see how it can revolutionise the way you feel about your acne prone skin.

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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