How to Treat Forehead Acne?

Usually harmless due to the area it appears in, acne on the forehead can be a pesky condition that may require several changes in lifestyle, skincare, and even dietary habits to clear up.

However, the good news is that forehead acne is one of the easiest to treat because the skin in this area is thin, which means inflammation is rarely deep enough to leave a scar behind, and treatments tend to be more effective due to the skin’s thinness and thus better absorption of topical products.

Therefore, from potential triggers you should eliminate from your daily routine to how to treat the condition with homemade and prescription remedies, here’s everything you need to know about forehead acne.

What are Common Causes of Acne on The Forehead?

Knowing the cause of a condition is crucial for treating it. Therefore, here are some of the most common causes of acne on the forehead.

Hormonal Imbalances

Overactive hormones, especially during puberty, are known to stimulate the sebaceous glands into producing excess oil, which then gets stuck inside the pores, where it mixes with dead skin cells and forms a plug that serves as food for the acne-causing bacteria, making hormonal imbalances one of the main causes of acne on the forehead and other areas of the face and body.


Friction can be another common cause of forehead acne, especially for those who often wear tight clothing and accessories such as hats, caps, and headbands.

Friction-induced acne occurs due to irritation from the constant rubbing and the bacterial buildup from dirty and sweaty clothing and head accessories that get pressed deeper into the pores if the item is too tight.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can lead to acne on the forehead, which may happen due to several reasons related to an inflamed hair follicle.

Some of these can include poor hygiene, an accumulation of bacteria from sweat, oils, and residue from cosmetic products as well as touching the skin with dirty hands, essentially leading to clogged pores and inflammation.

Types of Forehead Acne

Here are some of the most common types of acne that tend to develop on the forehead:

  • Comedonal acne – also known as whiteheads and blackheads, forms due to the accumulation of cellular debris inside the pores.
  • Inflammatory acne – also known as papules and pustules, forms when the cellular debris inside the pores has become infected due to the immune system’s reaction to bacterial overgrowth.
  • Fungal acne – an inflammatory skin condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin’s surface that looks like clusters of flesh-colored or red bumps accompanied by an itching sensation.

How to Treat Forehead Acne?

Treating forehead acne will require changing your skincare routine and lifestyle habits, for the vast majority of people forehead acne will not “go away” on its own

Therefore, here are a few important things you should pay attention to manage and treat forehead acne effectively:

Cleanse Twice a Day

Cleansing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser will reduce the severity of acne exacerbated by bacterial buildup, excess oil, pollution from the environment, and cellular debris accumulated on the skin’s surface.

Exfoliate Regularly

Regular exfoliation encourages shedding the sluggish dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, thus revealing a brighter, clearer, and more uniform complexion from underneath.

Additionally, some forms of exfoliation, such as chemical exfoliation, can penetrate deeper into the skin and dissolve the plugs responsible for clogged pores and breakouts.

Try Over-The-Counter Acne Treatments

Over-the-counter acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide can do a fantastic job at reducing the inflammation of mild to moderate forehead acne by infusing the pores with oxygen and destroying the airless environment the acne-causing bacteria need to survive.

Use Non-Comedogenic Products

Acne is primarily caused by clogged pores, and some ingredients in cosmetic products, such as oils, silicones, and waxes, can exacerbate the condition by becoming stuck and hardened into the hair follicles, essentially triggering inflammation and symptoms such as redness, swelling, and pus.

Therefore, when dealing with acne in an already naturally oily and clog-prone area like the forehead, opt for cosmetic products that don’t contain comedogenic components, as this will help eliminate a potential cause and reduce the severity of the condition.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Finally, while pimples on the forehead might give you the urge to squeeze them every time you see yourself in a mirror, try your best to keep your hands away from the area as touching the skin with dirty hands can spread bacteria, transfer oils and residue from hand lotions, further clogging the pores and exacerbating inflammation.

Additionally, popping a pimple will cause the skin to rupture, leading to a microscopic wound at risk of getting infected through bacterial colonization and leaving a permanent scar.

How To Prevent Forehead Acne

Acne is an inflammatory condition notorious for its potential to return whenever the environment is suitable. Here’s how to prevent forehead acne from coming back in the future:

Eliminate Triggers

Anything your skin reacts to is considered a trigger, so eliminating these components is crucial in treating existing acne and preventing them from returning in the future.

Therefore, be it a dietary component, such as sugary foods or dairy consumption, or the use of certain skincare, makeup, and hair care products, pay close attention to acne that flares up after using or consuming the potential trigger, as this will help you identify and eliminate them from your daily routine, which could improve the inflammatory condition.

Have a Complete Skincare Routine

Investing in a good skincare routine that consists of a few basics, including a cleanser, an active ingredient, a moisturizer, and sunscreen that is specifically tailored to your skin type and needs, will help you maintain clear skin and prevent acne from coming back in the future.

Avoid Tight Clothing and Accessories

As we already mentioned, tight clothing and accessories such as hats, caps, and headbands could not only exacerbate forehead acne but are, in many cases, the sole cause of it due to causing friction and irritation and pushing external impurities inside the pores.

Therefore, avoid using these accessories or keep them as clean as possible with regular washes and good sanitization practices to prevent dealing with forehead acne in the future.

Style Hair Away From Your Forehead

Certain hairstyles, such as fringes, can trap oil and sweat against your forehead, causing breakouts to occur.

Therefore, to prevent this, try styling your hair away from your forehead using hair clips, plastic headbands that are easy to clean, or other hair accessories that would prevent dirty hair from rubbing against your skin.

Additionally, avoid using heavy hair care products such as pomades and waxes, as these can be comedogenic when in contact with the skin and can trigger acne on the forehead and other areas of the face.

Clean The Surfaces That Come Into Contact With Your Skin

Dirty surfaces such as phones, pillows, and bedding can cause many skin conditions, including forehead acne; therefore, cleaning them regularly and properly is crucial in preventing this condition from returning.

Certain strains of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus that are abundant on surfaces that regularly come into contact with our skin can not only cause irritation that could lead to permanent conditions such as dermatitis but can also lead to potential health hazards, including joint and bone infections and pneumonia in severe cases.

What are the Best Home Remedies for Forehead Acne

Home remedies are unlikely to treat forehead acne, as multiple factors are usually involved in the formation of acne; therefore, numerous changes will need to occur for the condition to clear up entirely.

However, home remedies can help alleviate the symptoms of acne and reduce the appearance of redness and swelling.

Therefore, if you need a quick fix for forehead acne, here are a few home remedies that you can try:


Icing a red and swollen pimple can cause the inflammation to subside due to the constricting effect the cold has on the blood vessels underneath the skin’s surface.

Although unlikely to target the root of the the breakout ice can be a quick and efficient way to soothe the symptoms of this inflammatory condition.

Chamomile Tea

Applying cold chamomile tea over the area of inflamed skin can help reduce the swelling and redness surrounding a pimple.

Additionally, chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that could help protect the cells from free radical damage and other aging related issues.


Honey can be another fantastic home remedy to subside a swollen pimple on a pinch and infuse the pores with an antibacterial activity that will help regulate the overgrowth of bacteria.

Excellent to be used as a homemade mask or a spot treatment, honey is the sweet spot for anyone dealing with the occasional pimple here and there and looking for a natural remedy to reduce the symptoms of inflammation.

What are the Best Prescription Treatments for Forehead Acne?

Prescription treatments are usually advised when forehead acne is moderate to severe, and there are a number of lesions that aren’t healing as opposed to a single pimple here and there.

Here are some of the most effective prescription treatments for forehead acne:


Epiduo is a topical product that combines adapalene and benzoyl peroxide to tackle moderate to severe acne.

Excellent for papules and pustules that develop in oily areas of the face, such as the forehead, this prescription treatment can help reduce the appearance of redness, inflammation, and pus-filled spots in a matter of days.


Tretinoin is one of the most potent forms of topical retinoids for skin conditions such as moderate to severe acne and skin damage caused by cell degradation.

It’s highly efficient at not only getting rid of existing acne but also preventing future pimples from forming; however, tretinoin comes with a few initial side effects, including dryness, redness, peeling, and purging, which can last anywhere from 4-12 weeks.


Finally, oral antibiotics are another commonly prescribed solution for moderate to severe acne that can subside the symptoms of this condition in a matter of weeks.

However, as with all medicines, antibiotics have potential side effects, such as digestive issues, rash, and yeast infection, so they’re only recommended for short periods.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Bad Does Forehead Acne Have to Be Before Seeing a Dermatologist?

Scheduling a dermatologist visit as early as possible is recommended when dealing with forehead acne, as the inflammation can only get worse the longer you wait, which can increase the chances of scarring.

Can Forehead Acne Cause Permanent Scarring?

Forehead acne is unlikely to cause permanent scarring, such as atrophic scars, as the skin in this area is relatively thin; however, the inflammation surrounding a pimple can still lead to hyperpigmentation and discoloration that can stay on the skin for a long time after a spot has healed.

Does Forehead Acne Go Away on Its Own?

Forehead acne can go away on its own if the inflammation is mild to moderate; however, most of the time, you will likely need topical or oral treatment and lifestyle changes for the condition to clear up entirely.

Originally Published: May 15, 2023

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Analyzed by Simone Sydel

Hi, I’m Simone Sydel, a licensed esthetician and acne expert dedicated to helping others solve their skin issues including acne, eczema, and UV damage. I specialize in testing and reviewing the latest acne treatments and beauty products, offering honest, practical advice for skincare. I’ve helped hundreds of clients clear their skin and my skincare product reviews have been read by several hundred thousand people. Thanks for visiting!

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