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Diagnosis and Treatment of Acne Around the Mouth

A woman with brown hair points to acne around her mouth.


Nothing lights up a room quite like your smile.

A smile tells the world you’re ready to make connections and happy to be part of a group. But when you’re suffering from acne around your mouth, none of that seems to matter.

Acne around your mouth is difficult to deal with and nearly impossible to obscure. Instead of trying to hide your acne, learn how to treat it so all anyone sees when they look your way is your dazzling smile!

What Is Acne Around the Mouth?

Acne can develop on any part of your skin that produces oil, meaning every inch of your body except the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. Acne most often appears on the upper back, shoulders, chest, and face, including the area around your mouth.

The oil-producing glands on your skin are called sebaceous glands. They produce an oil called sebum, which keeps your skin moist and healthy. But, when this oil mixes with dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells to clog pores, it can cause a nasty breakout.

Suffering from excess sebum? Androgens, the group of sex hormones that start puberty, may be stimulating too much oil production, causing hormonal acne. While hormonal acne is most prevalent on the jawline and chin, it can appear around the mouth too.


Acne around the mouth can also result from objects coming into consistent contact with the area. The culprit could be your:

  • Cell phone
  • Bike helmet
  • Musical instrument
  • Face mask
  • Pillowcase
  • Razor
  • Hair

Additionally, touching your face too often with your fingers or resting your face on your palm may introduce additional bacteria and lead to acne around the mouth.

If this doesn’t sound like you, consider the topical products you regularly apply on or around your mouth:

  • Liquid or powder foundation
  • Lip balm or lipstick
  • Shaving cream or aftershave
  • Hair-removal products
  • Beard oil
  • Fragrances
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothpaste

Any products or objects that come into contact with the skin around your mouth could be behind your acne breakouts. Look for patterns in the acne around your mouth. Does a new crop of pimples appear whenever you wear your bike helmet or use a certain lip balm? Take it as a sign that it’s time to switch up your routine.

Infographic: Diagnosis and Treatment of Acne Around the Mouth

How to Treat Acne Around the Mouth

Wondering how to treat acne around your mouth? Look no further! We’ve listed some of the most common options below:

  • Over-the-counter products: Over-the-counter products with active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or azelaic acid may be effective at treating the acne around your mouth.
  • Prescription products: For stubborn or severe acne around your mouth, talk to your doctor about prescription options. Products with higher concentrations of acne-fighting ingredients (like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids) or antibiotics are often more effective than over-the-counter products, though be sure to weigh the benefits against possible side effects.
  • Light therapy: Red and blue light therapy is safe to use on the delicate skin around your mouth. Blue light kills acne-causing bacteria in existing pimples and on the skin to prevent future breakouts, while red light reduces inflammation and speeds up the healing of existing breakouts. Together, these wavelengths can reduce the severity and frequency of acne around your mouth with no adverse effects

Don’t be surprised if it takes a combination of two or more of the above factors to reach your skincare goals. Many treatments are stronger when done in tandem!


Prevention Is Key

When it comes to acne around your mouth, the best course of action is to prevent a breakout in the first place!

Here are the most recommended ways to prevent acne around the mouth:

  • Non-comedogenic products: To prevent acne around the mouth, all products you use — makeup, cleansers, serums, toners, moisturizers, etc. — should be non-comedogenic. Non-comedogenic means a product contains ingredients that have a lower risk of clogging your pores. When choosing any product that will touch your face, look for “non-comedogenic” on the label.
  • Non-comedogenic oils: Some natural oils are fine to use on acne-prone skin, but choose wisely. To avoid stirring up an acne breakout, opt for non-comedogenic oils, which include rosehip, evening primrose, tea tree, grapeseed, hempseed, and jojoba oils.
  • Non-abrasive cleanser: Wash your face with a non-abrasive cleanser at least twice a day — in the morning and at night. You may need to wash your face more often if you exercise during the day or touch your face with your hands or objects for a prolonged period of time.
  • Exfoliators: An exfoliating product removes dead skin cells, keeping your pores from becoming clogged. Too much exfoliation can strip and irritate the skin, so only exfoliate one to three times per week.
  • Makeup remover: It’s important to use a quality makeup remover that gently but thoroughly removes all cosmetic products from your skin. Never go to bed with makeup on! You’ll likely wake up to a crop of clogged pores.
  • Blue and red light therapy: Light therapy is a relatively new but popular treatment for acne. The most effective light therapy uses both blue and red light wavelengths. Blue light therapy kills acne-causing bacteria while red light therapy reduces inflammation and encourages healing.

When applying any type of product to your face — including cleansers, exfoliators, and makeup removers — never scrub your skin. Apply the product in gentle, circular motions. Rinse your face by splashing it with lukewarm water and dab yourself dry with a clean towel.

Quote: Diagnosis and Treatment of Acne Around the Mouth

Acne Around the Mouth: Final Thoughts

No matter how tempting it may be, never pick at the skin around your mouth when you have an acne breakout. Dermatologists recommend leaving pimple popping to the pros, as the DIY method can lead to pain, infection, permanent scarring, and — you guessed it! — more acne.

Make pimple popping a thing of the past by finding an effective way to treat and prevent acne around your mouth. It’s well worth the effort to find the right options for your skin!

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