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How to Treat & Prevent Acne Breakouts Around the Mouth

Stubborn acne around the mouth area? Discover how to keep it at bay and gain clearer skin with these tips!

Acne is one of the most prevalent skin issues among adolescents and young adults. This condition affects approximately 85% of people between 12 and 24 years old. It can be stubborn, especially if it keeps occurring around your mouth.

What is Acne and What Causes it?

Acne is a common skin disorder caused by blocked skin glands called sebaceous glands. These are found near hair follicles beneath the skin. Most people suffer from acne on and off for several years before symptoms improve with age. 

Acne-prone skin, including dry skin, develops pimples more often. These may vary from environmental conditions to a poor skincare routine that irritates and clogs the pores.

What Causes Acne Around the Mouth?

Acne breakouts typically occur in the T-zone area of the face. The forehead, nose, and chin make up the T-zone. These areas develop acne more often than others because they have a higher concentration of sebaceous glands attached to the hair follicles.

Sometimes, pimples form around the mouth area. They can be painful and frustrating, especially if they seem to appear out of nowhere. 

Here are some known reasons why acne develops around the mouth:

Shaving and Improper Hygiene with Shaving Razors

Shaving does not cause acne, but it might create a razor abrasion that resembles acne. Using a dull, clogged, or filthy blade is the most common cause of razor burn. 

You can also get acne around your lips and jawline from the chemicals in your shaving cream.

Hormones

Hormonal changes during puberty or the menstrual cycle can cause pimples around the mouth area.

The secretion of androgens encourages sebaceous glands to produce more sebum which clogs pores and causes acne. Hormonal acne is traditionally assumed to affect the jawline and chin, but sometimes, it affects the lip area too.

Lip Balm

Are you aware that certain lip balms can cause acne? Lip balm wax can clog pores and cause breakouts. Moreover, the scent compounds used in lip balms may worsen acne, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Mobile Phone

Holding a filthy phone up to your face may cause friction and inflammation and encourage acne outbreaks. 

Did you know that our mobile phones contain up to 25,127 bacteria per square inch? Yikes! This makes cell phones one of the dirtiest devices we come into contact with daily.

Equipment and Apparel

When equipment or clothing apparel like a face mask brushes against the skin and trap heat and sweat, they can cause your skin to become irritated. This may lead to fresh breakouts if you have acne-prone skin.

Acne mechanica can be caused by wearing helmet straps, face masks, or having facial contact with musical instruments such as violins.

Types of Acne Breakouts Around The Mouth

Some acne symptoms are more frequent in particular areas of the face than others. If you have noticed, pimples on the face can also appear on the mouth.

Comedones

Comedones are tiny, flesh-colored, white or black bumps on the skin’s surface that give it a rough feel. Closed comedones are whiteheads, whereas open comedones are blackheads.

Cysts and Papules

Cysts and papules are small, inflamed bumps caused by excess sebum, live and dead bacteria, fluctuating hormones, and some medications. They lack the pus-filled tip that other types of acne have.

What Does your Acne Mean: Common Spots on the Face where Acne Develops

Have you ever wondered why you always get pimples on a particular spot on your face? You may develop acne on your temples, between your eyebrows, or around your mouth. 

According to old Chinese tradition, spots on the face could signify different health conditions. For example, a pimple in the ear could mean problems in the kidney, or a pimple on the cheek could reflect issues in the liver.

Face mapping is considered a pseudoscience, but some professionals believe there is some truth to this ancient wisdom. 

For example, certain hair products could cause acne around the hairline and forehead. Meanwhile, acne on the cheeks can result from friction and pressure from specific gear and apparel. 

Hormonal changes that occur throughout puberty or menstruation could likewise cause pimples around the mouth. So, chill out on that face map! That zit on your nose doesn’t necessarily mean you have an underlying condition to worry about.

How to Treat and Prevent Acne Around the Mouth?

Suppose you’ve recognized the spots around your mouth as acne. In that case, you might start treating your symptoms with over-the-counter medications, skincare regimens, and, if necessary, prescription drugs.

Let’s start with what you can easily find in a pharmacy:

Benzoyl Peroxide

A topical acne therapy that acts as an antiseptic, benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Likewise, it eliminates dead skin cells and excess oil. Best of all, repeated use does not cause antibiotic resistance.

Formulas containing benzoyl peroxide include skin cleansers, toners, gels, and lotions.

Salicylic Acid

A gentler alternative to benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid can unclog pores and kill bacteria, too. Salicylic acid dissolves dead skin cells and increases cell turnover as it penetrates the skin.

Retinoids

Retinoids help get rid of blackheads and whiteheads and prevent pores from getting blocked. They must be applied to the entire acne-affected skin area to prevent the formation of new pimples.

Sometimes, topical medications are insufficient to treat and prevent acne around your mouth. A healthy diet can significantly improve the skin’s overall condition. 

This highly informative eBook can help you understand your skin better and help you get started with a healthier diet and lifestyle. 

Use Non-Comedogenic Products

Avoid certain cosmetics that can clog your pores, such as foundations and concealers. You may opt for non-comedogenic cosmetics and ditch those sticky lip balms for good! 

Cleanse your Skin

Wash your face twice daily with a mild soap or gel, especially after sweating, and always take off your makeup before bed. 

Be Wary of Germs

Clean your makeup brushes regularly to avoid introducing bacteria to your face and clogging your pores. Regularly washing towels and facecloths can additionally help keep the skin clean.

Remember to change sheets and pillows regularly. This will assist in keeping germs away from the face.

Always sanitize your mobile phones, musical instruments, and equipment for sports and road safety before and after putting them on your face. You want to avoid acne breakouts and keep those germs at bay, don’t you?

Avoid Touching your Face

Touching your face is one of the most common methods for germs to enter the body. If you can’t keep your hands to your face, regularly wash your hands and use a sanitizer whenever possible.

Improve your Shaving Routine

Shaving can irritate the skin and clog the pores, resulting in breakouts. Razor blades should be changed regularly because old blades can harbor bacteria. 

To prevent bacteria buildup, rinse the razor after each stroke and let it dry after use.

Cleaning the face before and after shaving can help to reduce the likelihood of bacteria entering the pores.

If you have persistent acne around your mouth or observe flare-ups at specific times of the month, consult your doctor. Your dermatologist may prescribe topical or oral medicines to spare you and your skin from unnecessary stress.

Is Acne Around the Mouth Dangerous?

Acne and blemishes around the mouth are not contagious. Often, it is not hazardous unless you have other underlying health issues. It is best to ensure that those bumps near your lips are nothing more than nasty zits.

If not acne, what could they be?

Cold Sores

Cold sores resemble pimples. Often appearing on the lips and mouth, they are primarily caused by Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1).

Cold sores are also called fever blisters. They occur in groups, are full of fluid, and form on and around your lips. 

Typically, blister clusters appear in patches with a burning sensation or prickling feeling. A scab forms after popping the blisters open, which may take several days to completely peel off.

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a scaly or red, bumpy rash around the mouth, which can be mistaken for acne. Perioral dermatitis may cause itching and burning but without tenderness.

Allergies

Certain skin care products can clog pores and produce acne. But some non-comedogenic products may still induce rashes and allergic reactions that resemble acne.

If your acne isn’t responding to treatments, call your doctor and have it checked immediately.

Conclusion

Acne around the mouth can be caused by the same factors that cause pimples elsewhere on the face. It can be treated with a mix of lifestyle changes and medications. This eBook will lead you to a life of a healthy diet to combat acne.

If your acne doesn’t clear up after treatment, resembles a rash, or causes pain, reach out to your dermatologist.

FAQs

Q: Why am I breaking out around my mouth?

A: Different factors could contribute to acne breakouts around the mouth, including hormones, diet and lifestyle, habits, and particular cosmetic products.

Q: Can pressure cause acne breakouts around the mouth?

A: Acne around the mouth can develop due to repeated pressure on the skin. 

Q: Can lipstick cause acne breakouts around the mouth?

A: Yes. Lipstick and lip balm have been linked to outbreaks around the mouth.

Q: Can kissing cause acne breakouts around the mouth?

A: Kissing does not cause acne. However, breakouts can happen after make-out sessions due to irritants and germs from the other person’s lips.

Q: How can I treat and prevent acne around my mouth? 

A: The severity and recurrence of acne around the mouth will determine how it is treated. Consider using OTC medications, changing your habits, and adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Sources

“Acne.” nhs.uk, www.nhs.uk/conditions/acne. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“Skin Conditions by the Numbers.” Skin Conditions by the Numbers, www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“Acne.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 1 Sept. 2016, www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/acne.

Khanna, Neena. Illustrated Synopsis of Dermatology & Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Elsevier India, 2019. 

Wood, Sam. “The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Skin: Basics, Types, Routing, and More – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 20 July 2021, goodglow.co/healthy-skin-guide.

“Skin Care for Acne-prone Skin – https://www.informedhealth.org – NCBI Bookshelf.” Skin Care for Acne-prone Skin –InformedHealth.org – NCBI Bookshelf, 26 Sept. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279208.

Pappas, Apostolos, et al. “Sebum Analysis of Individuals With and Without Acne.” PubMed Central (PMC), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835908/?report=reader. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

Iftikhar, Usma, and Nakhshab Choudhry. “Serum Levels of Androgens in Acne and Their Role in Acne Severity.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408631. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“Pimples on the Chin: What It Means and How to Get Rid of Them.” Pimples on the Chin: What It Means and How to Get Rid of Them, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325991. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“Acne Mechanica – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Apr. 1975, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/123732.

Wood, Sam. “How to Treat, Prevent and Mitigate Acne From Face Masks – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 8 Nov. 2021, goodglow.co/how-to-prevent-mask-acne.

Wood, Sam. “Best Razors for Acne-Prone Skin – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 24 Sept. 2022, goodglow.co/best-razors-acne-prone-skin.

“The Dirty Cell Phone: 25,127 Bacteria.” The Dirty Cell Phone: 25,127 Bacteria, www.statefoodsafety.com/Resources/Resources/the-dirty-cell-phone-25-127-bacteria-per-square-inch#:~:text=But%20do%20we%20ever%20stop,in%20contact%20with%20every%20day. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“How to Treat Different Types of Acne.” How to Treat Different Types of Acne, www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/diy/types-breakouts. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

Wilson, Ashley. “What Causes Acne on Temples? – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 6 Oct. 2022, goodglow.co/what-causes-acne-on-temples.

Sydel, Simone. “How to Prevent Acne Breakouts Between Eyebrows – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 1 Oct. 2022, goodglow.co/what-causes-acne-between-eyebrows.

Acupuncture.Com – Chinese Medicine Basics – Mien Shiang.” Acupuncture.Com – Chinese Medicine Basics – Mien Shiang, www.acupuncture.com/education/tcmbasics/mienshiang.htm. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“Are Acne Face Maps a Help or a Hoax?” Office for Science and Society, 28 Oct. 2022, www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/pseudoscience/are-acne-face-maps-help-or-hoax.

“Acne Face Map: Causes of Breakouts.” Acne Face Map: Causes of Breakouts, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325971. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

“DEFINE_ME.” DEFINE_ME, www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(18)32674-4/fulltext. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

Decker, Ashley, and Emmy M. Graber. “Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A Review.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366450. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

Wood, Sam. “Best Diet to Prevent and Treat Teen Acne – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 9 Nov. 2022, goodglow.co/best-diet-to-treat-teen-acne.

Wood, Sam. “Does Kissing Trigger Acne Breakouts? (Hint… Maybe) | GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 23 Dec. 2021, goodglow.co/does-kissing-cause-acne.

“Is That Stubborn Acne Really Acne?” Is That Stubborn Acne Really Acne?, www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/stubborn-acne. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

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Tolaymat, Leila, and Matthew R. Hall. “Perioral Dermatitis – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” Perioral Dermatitis – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf, 5 Sept. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525968.

“Study Finds Allergy-Like Reaction May Trigger Bumps and Pimples | Rosacea.org.” Study Finds Allergy-Like Reaction May Trigger Bumps and Pimples |Rosacea.org, www.rosacea.org/rosacea-review/2007/winter/study-finds-allergy-like-reaction-may-trigger-bumps-and-pimples. Accessed 16 Nov. 2022.

Haner, Jean. The Wisdom of Your Face: Change Your Life with Chinese Face Reading. Hay House, 2012. https://books.google.lu/books?id=tuRDq-8WN9UC&printsec=frontcover

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision.

Read more of Sam's articles.

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