Acne Around Mouth

Acne Around Mouth

Acne Around Mouth: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment


Knowing that you have a whitehead the size of a peanut on your chin can make you want to hide under the covers until it goes away. The mouth and jaw area is one of the most common places that a person can experience acne and also one of the most irritating. 


Dermatologists have even noticed a recent uptick in acne around the mouth and see frequent use of cloth face masks and coverings as the culprit (hello, maskne!)


What does recurring acne around your mouth say about your habits and health? How do you treat this acne quickly, so you can feel more confident about your skin? And how do you prevent these flare-ups in the first place? 


For all these answers and more, keep reading!


What Is Acne?


Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Almost everyone gets a pimple or two at some point, but people with acne experience regular, recurring pimples, often in the same places. Severe acne may even require prescription treatment, like antibiotics. 


Acne can occur anywhere on the body (see: bacne), but you are most likely to notice it on your face, especially in the T-zone area. 


What’s the T-zone area?


If you look in the mirror and draw a T on the center of your face (using your imagination, not an actual pen!), your fingers will run across your forehead, nose, and chin, all of which make up the T-zone. These regions of the face have a higher number of sebaceous glands and are more susceptible to pimples.


Sebaceous glands are in charge of releasing oil (also known as sebum). Though this is necessary for skin health, too much oil, along with dead skin cells, can clog the pores and lead to acne. As such, it’s important to keep the T-zone area clean and minimally oily. Frequently touching your skin and or irritation of any kind can also encourage acne growth. 


On the bright side, acne provides little to no serious threat to your physical health and is totally normal when you are an adolescent. Where acne can be a real issue, however, is in your confidence and mental health. Acne can be embarrassing and may even make you want to avoid social settings where others will notice it. 


With proper treatment and prevention methods, you can minimize your acne. Knowing what may be causing your acne is crucial in understanding how to stop it. 

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Don’t Mistake Your Acne For These Common Conditions 


Before we move on to the causes, prevention, and treatment of acne around the mouth, let’s rule out other skin conditions. These two, in particular, also occur around the mouth and look similar to acne, so it’s important not to confuse them.


1. Cold sores: Cold sores, similar to acne, are extremely common. In fact, about two-thirds of the global population has herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores. Typically, these appear on or around the lips and are accompanied by a tingly feeling. Unlike pimples, cold sores are full of fluid, can hurt, and will generally take longer to heal. 


2. Perioral Dermatitis: Perioral dermatitis is a rash that makes the skin around your mouth appear red or bumpy. Similar to cold sores, this condition causes a burning sensation, and you may experience some discharge of fluid at the site of the rash. The cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown at this time. 


If you can’t tell whether you have acne or another condition, a dermatologist can help. It’s best to know exactly what condition you have, so you can treat it the most effective way. 


Acne Causes


There are many potential causes of recurrent acne around the mouth. Here are some of the most common ones:


  • • Hormones: Acne is common among adolescents due to the constant hormonal swings. Menstruation, menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and pregnancy can also affect hormone levels. Finally, starting a new type of birth control or switching from one to the other can cause hormonal acne. Hormones called androgens regulate the production of oil in the body, so when these hormones are out of whack, the risk for acne is higher. Hormonal acne often occurs in the chin and mouth area. 

  • • Touching the face too often: By touching your face, you allow bacteria, dirt, and other residue on your fingers to transfer to your face, irritating the skin and potentially clogging the pores. 

  • • Sweat: Sweat that accumulates on the face, whether from exercise or hot weather, can clog pores and lead to acne. 

  • • Cell phone use: Holding your cell phone up to your ear for long periods of time and resting it on your cheek and chin can speed up the growth of pimples. 

  • • Lip balm: Certain lip balms contain a lot of oil, grease, and wax, all of which can irritate the sensitive skin around the lips. Products with fragrance pose a risk as well. 

  • • Other cosmetics: The makeup you use to cover up your acne may make the issue worse if it contains oil or comedogenic ingredients. 

  • • Daily care regimen: Not cleansing and moisturizing your skin enough creates the perfect environment for acne growth. But on the other hand, cleansing and moisturizing too much can also damage the skin—it’s all about hitting that sweet spot. 

  • • Shaving cream: If you shave regularly, using shaving cream instead of dry shaving is an absolute must. 

  • • Food: Remnants of food, especially greasy food, can gather on the corners of your mouth and near the skin. This increases the oil content in the skin and leads to clogged pores. 

  • • Helmet straps: Similarly, helmet straps that rest on the chin/jawline area can be damaging to the skin. 

  • • Face masks: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all wearing face masks in public to stop the spread. Unfortunately, some people are experiencing breakouts as a result. This may be due to the humid environment that face masks foster. 


Whatever is causing your acne, there are plenty of treatment methods available. 


Acne Treatment


Depending on the severity and cause of your acne, you may be able to treat it at home. A healthy skincare routine and the regular use of facial masks, like Gleamin’s Vitamin C Clay Mask, will keep your skin clean, strong, and hydrated. Read more in the Acne Prevention section. 


If your acne is not responding to over-the-counter treatments, you can contact a dermatologist. They may recommend the following: 


  • • Antibiotics
  • • Prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide
  • • Retinoic acid
  • • Accutane
  • • Combined oral contraceptives
  • • Chemical peels


Acne Prevention


The best way to prevent acne is by finding a skincare regimen that works for you. This involves washing your skin each day with a dermatologist-approved cleanser and following up with a moisturizer to strengthen and hydrate the skin. 


Try to determine what kind of skin type you have (oily, dry, etc.), and then choose the best-suited products. 


Adding a face mask into your regimen can be helpful, too, especially if you’re looking to fade those pesky dark spots. The Vitamin C Clay Mask can reduce acne, even skin tone, and give your skin that healthy, glowy look that we’re all after. Powerful ingredients like vitamin C, aloe vera, and turmeric work to enrich, revitalize, and refine the skin. 


If you have found a specific cause for the acne around your mouth, the chart below gives you the actionable advice you need to tackle the issue: 


Prevention Plan

Touching the face too often

Wash your hands often, and avoid touching the face by keeping your hands occupied elsewhere. 


Take a shower after you exercise to eliminate sweat and other residue buildup, and cleanse your skin after your shower. 

Lip balm/cosmetics

Use makeup that is free of oil and will therefore not clog your pores—look for the term ‘non-comedogenic’ on the labels. Apply lip balm to your lips only and use a Q-tip to remove any that gets on your skin.  


Use gentle or mild shaving cream on your face. Make sure to switch out your razor blades frequently. 


Avoid eating greasy/oily/fried foods. 


Wash your hands, makeup brushes, pillowcases, and any other objects which might touch your face often. 

Phone/helmet strap/protective face mask

Clean these after using them, and also use a cleanser and moisturizer on your face. 

The Bare Faced Truth


The mouth and chin are in the T-zone, meaning that they are especially prone to acne. Hormones, sweat, cosmetics, touching the face, and protective face masks, as well as pressure from cell phones, musical instruments, or helmet straps, can all contribute to acne around the mouth.


If you have severe acne, your dermatologist may need to prescribe you stronger medication. Otherwise, you can prevent acne with a proper skincare routine (including your favorite clay mask from Gleamin!) and by avoiding any triggers that cause acne growth. 




Breakouts From Face Masks | Northwestern Medicine

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