Last Updated on July 31st, 2019
One of the most common places for acne is the chin. This is for all kinds of reasons: sports, shaving, even lip balm can lead to chin acne. There aren’t any products specially designed to treat the chin, but that’s because you don’t need a chin-specific product. Some minor changes to your daily personal care routine could actually do the trick. This article will explain the reasons for chin acne, explore some minor changes that could make a big difference, provide do-it-yourself treatment options, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about chin acne.
Article Table of Contents
Most of us with acne have heard of the T-zone—the area encompassing your forehead and nose which typically produces more oil and thus, more acne. The natural complement to the T-zone is the U-zone—the area encompassing your cheeks, jawline, and chin. Unlike the T-zone, this area does not produce an excessive amount of sebum (natural skin oil) unless you have an oily skin type. In people with normal, dry, or combination skin, the U-zone is usually dry which can make pores tight.
You probably know that extra oil leads to pimples, but did you know that dry skin can also produce acne1? Although many cosmetic products boast that they “shrink pores,” tight pores can actually trap bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells under the skin’s surface, creating pimples. Acne can be tricky that way; you don’t want your pores to be too open because then they can easily get clogged, but you also don’t want your pores to be totally closed because then they can trap acne-causing agents beneath the surface of your skin.
If your T-zone is very oily and your U-zone is very dry, using only one acne product probably won’t be the most effective approach. Instead, try a full treatment system that cleanses, treats, and moisturizes your skin, like Exposed Skincare.
There is a specific kind of acne that can appear anywhere on the face or body called acne mechanica. This particular acne isn’t necessarily caused by oil or bacteria, although they play a part. Instead, this acne is caused by excessive friction2.
Friction is definitely not good for acne. Friction irritates the skin, and when the skin is irritated two things happen: it produces extra sebum, and it becomes inflamed. The extra sebum obviously isn’t great for acne, but it’s especially problematic when combined with inflammation. When the skin is inflamed, it swells slightly and closes pores. This traps all that excess sebum (along with dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria) under the skin and leads to increased acne.
Certain sports or musical instruments have an element that is continuously pressed against the chin, like the chin strap on football helmets or the lip plate of a flute. The constant pressure presses acne-causing agents like sebum, perspiration, and acne-causing bacteria into your pores, and leads to acne.
The two best ways to prevent sports or music-related chin acne are cleansing your skin right after practice, a game, or a performance, and keeping your equipment or instrument clean.
After playing your instrument3 or your sport, gently wash your chin. Don’t scrub, as that will create even more irritation. You just want to open the pores slightly and clear away extra oil, perspiration, and bacteria. It will also help to keep your instrument or sport equipment clean. They collect sebum and bacteria from your face, and if left uncleaned, that bacteria will grow and the next time you play, they will be transferred directly to your skin. Some instruments have specific cleaning cloths and oils you should use, but most sports chin straps can be cleaned with plain water.
One of the best pieces of acne advice is to avoid touching your face whenever possible. Our hands touch all kinds of germy things, so you want to avoid transferring that bacteria to your face where it could get trapped in pores and cause pimples. But if we’re feeling sleepy or letting our minds wander, we might prop our elbow on the table and rest our chin in our palm. We often don’t even notice that we’ve moved to this position, it’s so natural, but it can cause acne. Partially because of the bacteria, but it also applies constant pressure, like with acne mechanica. It seems perfectly harmless, but if possible, you want to avoid resting your chin in your palm.
If you’re a daydreamer, try sitting on your hands or crossing your arms when you notice your mind wandering. This will prevent your body from naturally falling into the chin-palm position.
Most people have experienced razor burn at some point: small red bumps around the hair follicles following shaving, usually with a dull razor. It can be itchy and uncomfortable, but it isn’t acne, so why are we mentioning it? Because similar to acne mechanica, razor burn irritates the skin and could lead to increased acne. If you shave your chin and have chin acne, you may want to change up your shaving routine.
One way to avoid razor burn and chin acne is to shave using a fragrance-free shaving gel, rather than shaving cream. Fragrance chemicals and the chemicals in shaving cream that cause it to fluff up can sink into pores and irritate the skin, so a scentless gel is a gentler option.
The best way to keep your chin healthy when shaving is to use a sharp razor. Dull razors don’t cut the hair very well; instead they fold them over, and the hair starts to grow back into the follicle. Your immune system thinks the hair is an outside invasion and this can cause your body to attack itself. The immune system initiates the inflammation response to try and eject the hair, which causes slight swelling and redness around the hair follicle. This creates razor burn, but it can also lead to a more serious condition: acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN).
AKN is a chronic skin condition that occurs when the skin quickly grows over a hair that has been folded back into the hair follicle. This creates a raised keloid scar and requires medical treatment. AKN is most common in young men with dark skin, and even with treatment it can leave significant scars. If your chin acne is larger than normal or raised more than normal, talk to your dermatologist.
If your lips get chapped easily, you probably apply lip balm two or three times a day, maybe even more. The wax protects and hydrates your lips, but it can clog the pores surrounding your mouth, or even the pores on your chin.
Lip balms today come in any scent you could possibly imagine, from something as simple as strawberry, to something as strange as dill pickle. These scents make lip balm fun, but they can also cause breakouts. All fragrances are created with chemicals that can irritate your skin4 and clog your pores. If you’re an avid lip balm user and you can’t seem to get rid of your stubborn chin acne, you may want to consider changing to a fragrance-free lip balm.
Toothpaste is commonly used as a DIY acne treatment, but it could actually be contributing to your chin acne. Some toothpaste products contain baking soda, which is a harsh acne spot treatment chemical, but others contain sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. SLS is the chemical that makes toothpaste foam up, and much like shaving cream, it can settle in the pores and irritate the skin.
In the process of brushing, rinsing, and spitting, it’s not unusual for a little bit of the toothpaste foam to find its way to the chin, where it can irritate the skin, close pores, and lead to acne. If you take good care of your skin but can’t seem to get rid of your chin acne, a simple daily product like lip balm or toothpaste could be to blame. Check your toothpaste label and if you see “sodium lauryl sulfate,” “sodium dodecyl sulfate,” or “SLS,” you might want to try another brand.
Teenage acne is very common because most people undergo extreme fluctuations in hormone levels at that time, but puberty is not the only time hormones can cause acne. Hormones related to stress, menstruation, or testosterone therapy can all cause an increase in acne.
Stress is more than just an uncomfortable feeling, it is your body entering into fight, flight, or freeze mode. When you have an important deadline coming up, your body perceives that stressor as a threat, and it responds as if a big presentation is a lion, eyeing you, ready to pounce. Your hypothalamus sends a message to your adrenal gland, which then releases adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure, while cortisol releases more sugars into your bloodstream to give your body more energy. These hormones are vital when faced with an actual lion, but not very helpful when you’re sitting at your desk staring at an exam. Extended exposure to stress hormones can cause a wide variety of mental and physical conditions, including acne. Adrenaline and cortisol can increase inflammation, which can close pores and encourage pimples.
Hormone levels can fluctuate significantly throughout the menstrual cycle, which can lead to monthly acne flare-ups5. During ovulation and just before menstruation, the body releases more androgens, including testosterone. The body always produces these hormones, but when they rise above their typical level they can cause acne because they promote increased sebum production, which then clogs pores.
Because increased androgens can cause an increase in acne, it is possible that trans men undergoing testosterone (T) therapy could experience more acne. There are relatively few studies currently published about the subject, but if you notice more acne after starting T therapy, try a gentle, consistent acne treatment system and consider speaking with your doctor or consulting a dermatologist.
Whether you have acne on your chin from playing sports, using the wrong toothpaste, or just being a teenager, there are solutions. When looking for a good treatment for chin acne, it helps to remember three things. First of all, your chin is naturally dry, so look for a moisturizing product. Second, your chin can easily accumulate oil and bacteria, so a cleansing product can help. Third and most importantly, remember that chin acne is very normal, so try not to worry.
If you have acne only on your chin, you may benefit most from our DIY spot treatments listed below, but if your acne is more widespread, the best treatment is a gentle, consistent acne treatment system. The best approach to acne treatment is a skincare routine you can follow every day, and treats your skin gently while still taking care of business. We recommend Exposed Skincare because of their affordable cost, one-year money-back guarantee, and carefully designed formula. Unlike many other acne treatment systems, Exposed doesn’t use high concentrations of active ingredients that will dry out your skin and cause more acne. Instead, they combine low concentrations of active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid along with a variety of natural ingredients like green tea extract and aloe vera. This combination is gentle, but effective, perfect for treating chin acne.
Tea Tree Oil:
You may have heard of tea tree oil for acne treatment before, because it’s a very effective natural solution. It is an essential oil that is antimicrobial, meaning it can kill acne-causing bacteria6, and it breaks up sebum and dead skin cells that can clog pores. But use caution, especially when treating dry areas of your skin, like your chin. Tea tree oil is a powerful ingredient that can dry out skin if not used correctly. If you have dry or sensitive skin, honey or aloe vera DIY treatments will produce better results.
The following recipe is meant to be a spot treatment only; do not apply to your full face.
10 drops of tea tree oil
2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
½ teaspoon of coconut oil
Step 1: Combine all three ingredients in a small container that has a lid (this will make enough to last one to two weeks if stored in a cool place with a lid).
Step 2: Gently wash skin with facewash and pat dry.
Step 3: Before bed, dip a cotton ball into the mixture, then dab onto affected area only. Do not rub, do not apply all over.
Step 4: Remove by gently washing skin with facewash.
Note: Do not apply in the morning, essential oils can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and cause burning, even when mixed with aloe vera.
Honey may be the only product that can genuinely call itself a “cure-all.” Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties combined with how gently it interacts with the skin make it an excellent healing agent7. Hospitals use honey-soaked dressings when treating wounds, and you can use it at home for everything from a canker sore to chin acne. The recipe below combines honey and cinnamon, another antimicrobial agent, to really cleanse the chin of any bacteria. The quantity should make enough to cover the whole face, but if you want to use honey as a spot treatment, you can cut the recipe in half.
1 tablespoon of pure honey (ingredient list should only say “honey,” no glucose or fructose added)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Step 1: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Step 2: Gently wash skin with facewash and pat dry.
Step 3: Apply mixture to face and let sit for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Rinse gently with water. Do not scrub, simply splash the face with lukewarm water and rub gently until honey is removed. This may take a while, but scrubbing will only irritate the skin.
If you’ve ever had a bad sunburn, you know how relieving aloe vera can be. It has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it soothes the skin8. If you have particularly inflamed or painful acne, an aloe vera mask may be the perfect solution for you. There are plenty of recipes that combine aloe vera with tea tree oil or lemon juice, but for painful acne you should apply plain aloe vera to the affected area. Avoid any products with a fragrance—remember, those chemicals can irritate the skin. Aloe vera straight from the plant is usually the most effective option, but it requires more maintenance and is usually more expensive than simply buying a gel from the store. But if you’re looking for a hardy houseplant and a solution to your acne, getting an aloe vera plant could kill two birds with one stone.
Q. I’m over the age of 25 and I’ve never had acne before, but recently I’ve been breaking out, especially on my chin. What’s going on?
A. You may be experiencing something called adult-onset acne. This is generally defined as acne that presents after age 25, without significant acne prior. Unlike teenage acne, which occurs mostly in the T-zone, adult acne is more likely to appear in the U-zone, which includes the chin. Adult-onset acne is relatively common, especially in black, African-American, and Hispanic adults with dark skin. The best treatment for chin acne is the same at all ages: a gentle cleanser and moisturizer.
Q. Why are the pimples on my chin more sensitive and painful to pop?
A. There are two important things to address here: the sensitivity of chin pimples, and the effectiveness of pimple popping.
First, pimples on your chin could be more sensitive because the skin there is usually drier and tighter than on your nose or forehead where more sebum is produced. Because your pores are so close together, when one gets clogged and expands, it creates pressure on all the pores around it, which could cause it to be more painful than other acne.
Second, popping pimples usually isn’t the most effective way to handle them. Some website say you should never, ever, ever pop a pimple, but if a pimple is ready and you know what you’re doing, pimple popping doesn’t have to be a disaster. That being said, you should be wary of popping pimples on your chin. The skin there is tight, meaning even minor breaks in the skin could easily leave a scar.
Rather than popping those painful, potentially scarring pimples on your chin, follow your acne treatment system every single day, and maybe try some of our DIY acne spot treatments.
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