Acne around the mouth may develop due to the pressure and friction on that area caused by helmet straps, cell phones, etc. Frequent touching, hormonal imbalance, genetics, and diet may also play a role. You may also blame cosmetics, like lip balms, toothpaste, shaving creams, and other facial products for irritating the skin. This article discusses what causes acne around the mouth and how to deal with it.
In This Article
Causes Of Acne Around The Mouth
Acne occurs when dirt, impurities, sebum, and acne-causing bacteria like P.acnes and S. aureus get trapped in your skin pores (1). You may notice more acne on your T-zone (the forehead, nose, mouth, and chin) as this area has more sebaceous glands than the rest of the face. Those who have oily skin are more prone to acne around their T-zone.
However, if you are frequently breaking out around your mouth, there are many possible factors responsible for it:
- Hormonal Changes: Acne around the mouth can occur due to changes in the level of androgens, causing the overactivity of sebaceous glands (2). Dr. Steven Line, MD, says, “Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, which can clog pores and lead to the formation of acne.” You may experience breakouts around your mouth during menstruation, pregnancy, if you have PCOSi XA hormonal disorder in women characterized by irregular periods caused by the formation of small cysts on enlarged ovaries. , and if you are taking any medication that affects the hormone levels.
- Product Residue: Using cosmetic products or treatments can contribute to breakouts around the mouth. This is more likely to happen if a product contains comedogenic ingredientsi XSubstances with pore-clogging properties that lead to acne breakouts or the formation of blackheads. . Moreover, if you do not remove your makeup products like foundations, lip balms, and lipsticks from your skin properly, their residue may cause buildup, clog the pores, and cause acne.
- Diet: Although the connection between diet and acne is still under scrutiny, several foods are found to trigger breakouts. Foods having a high glycemic index increases insulin levels. This leads to many changes in the body at the cellular level and may worsen existing acne. Dairy foods may also stimulate the production of androgens, triggering excess sebum production and acne (2).
- Friction: If you have the habit of constantly touching and rubbing the area around your mouth, you may develop acne. This type of acne is known as acne mechanica and is caused by friction. Wearing masks and helmet straps may often cause friction. Moreover, if you do not change your mask or clean the chin straps in your helmet, they can clog the pores near your mouth, trapping dirt and germs and cause acne.
- Shaving: Using a facial razor and oil to remove your baby hairs around the mouth may irritate sensitive skin and cause acne.
- Mobile Phones: Do you have the habit of talking over the mobile phone pressed against your cheek and mouth? If yes, that may be one cause of acne around the mouth.
A study observed that contact with the cell phone while talking could cause non-inflammatory and inflammatory lesions (papules, pustules, and nodules). It could worsen existing acne and cause new breakouts (3). The mobile phone surface contains germs and bacteria that may transfer to your skin while talking.
You may experience both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions around your mouth. Let’s take a look at the types of breakouts that commonly occur in the area around your lips.
Types Of Breakouts Around The Mouth
Did you notice small flesh-colored bumps around your mouth? Those are comedones – an early form of acne. These comedones can be open (called blackheads) or closed (known as whiteheads). Comedonal acne makes the skin look bumpy and rough (4).
2. Pustules And Papules
These are inflammatory acne and painful. Papules and pustules are raised bumps with pus-filled heads. These may first appear as red and inflamed bumps and later develop pus. They are deep lesions and may also leave behind marks and scars (4). Dr. Line adds, “Sometimes, vesicles on the lips are due to herpes infection. These vesicles are usually more painful than common acne pimples.”
Another skin condition, which is often mistaken as breakouts around the mouth, is perioral dermatitis. According to the American Academy Of Dermatology Association, these red rashes look like acne breakouts and cause itching and a burning sensation. Perioral dermatitis develops around the mouth and may also appear near the eyes and nose (5).
This condition requires different treatment. If you notice redness and breakouts around your mouth, consult a dermatologist immediately.
While acne treatment calls for medical attention and you may have to take both oral and topical medications, there are a few things you can do to soothe and calm the lesions. If you have mild to moderate breakouts, follow the tips below to manage them.
How To Deal With Acne Around The Mouth
1. Follow Proper Cleansing Routine
A good skin care routine eliminates the chances of residue on the face. Washing your face twice a day and following up with a toner and moisturizer provides your skin with the basic care it needs. Remove all your makeup at the end of the day and double cleanse, if possible.
2. Use OTC Salicylic Acid Or Benzoyl Peroxide
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are proven OTC ingredients that help manage mild to moderate acne. You can use face washes, night creams, and serums containing these two ingredients. Salicylic acid encourages the skin’s natural exfoliation process, while benzoyl peroxide is a keratolytic agenti XAn agent that helps reduce bacterial growth and skin-irritating fatty acids to bind moisture to the skin. and exfoliates the upper layer of the skin to minimize acne (6).
Related: Types Of Acne Around The Mouth And How To Deal With Them