Why you’re breaking out around your mouth


Dendy Engleman, MD FACMS FAAD, is a dermatologic surgeon board-certified and a lecturer in both the U.S. and the international arena. 


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Different Types of Breakouts Around the Mouth Common Causes and Prevention Treatment

Most people don’t want to deal with acne breakouts anywhere on their face or body. Acne in the mouth area can be more painful, as it causes pain when we talk, eat, or move our mouths. Have you ever wondered why your acne is primarily occurring around your mouth? According to our experts, the most common cause of breakouts around the mouth is hormones, product accumulation, and external triggers like dry skin.

Two dermatologists spoke to us to learn more about mouth outbreaks and why they occur. They also explained how to prevent them from returning.


There are different types of mouth breakouts.

You’ve probably noticed that the same type of pimples appears in the mouth area. Specific acne symptoms are more prevalent in some areas of the body and face than others.

  • Comedones: Dr. Craig A. Kraffert says comedones are common around the mouth. Comedones can be small bumps that often match the color of your skin. They are classified as “open” or “closed” comedones. He adds that rosacea can sometimes occur alongside acne. In these cases, the breakouts tend to be more bumpy and inflammatory.
  • Papules and cysts While some people may experience whiteheads or blackheads around the mouth, Upper East Side Dermatologist Dr. Estee Williams says that other breakouts could be more prevalent in this area. “Cysts/papules appear more frequently than blackheads/whiteheads around the mouth and lower face because the skin types are different,” Williams explains. What is so different about the skin around the mouth? Williams says that there are less sebaceous ducts in this area, resulting in a lower oil production. Each hair follicle or pore is connected to a gland that produces oil. When this gland produces too much, the pore can get clogged. When the extra fat in a pore combines with dead cells, it can cause acne symptoms like papules and cysts.
  • Perioral dermatitis. Some bumps can look and feel like acne, but they are the symptoms of other skin conditions. “A unique acne-like situation occurs around the mouth. It is widespread among young women,” Kraffert says. Perioral dermatitis is easily misdiagnosed as acne and rashes. Williams says that perioral dermatitis can be cured by twice-daily tetracycline treatments for six weeks. Eczema and contact dermatitis are also common around the mouth and chin, and they may easily be mistaken for acne. You may not even have acne if your skin has small, red bumps or flaky, dry skin. Consult a dermatologist for the proper treatment.

Common Causes and Prevention

There is no cure-all for acne. However, we can take steps to prevent and treat breakouts. These measures are most effective when we know what causes them.

  • Hormones “Acne, to a large degree, is hormonal,” Kraffert says. What does Kraffert mean? Androgens are known for kicking the glands of the sebaceous to high gear and causing them to produce more oil.
  • Product Build-Up : Have you ever noticed how sweat from sports bras can cause breakouts below the bra line? Or how certain hair products can result in bumps on the Hairline? It is also true that what we put in contact with our mouth and areas surrounding it can cause breakouts. Kraffert explains that cosmetics used on lips or hair removal products on the chin may be contributing factors in some cases. Check your lip balm or chapstick for ingredients that could be comedogenic.
  • Understand your triggers. Acne doesn’t require you to avoid everything that could cause a breakout. But noticing patterns, such as specific ingredients and flights, can help you prevent them in the future. If your skin breaks out more when it becomes dry, add a chemical or physical exfoliant to your weekly skincare regimen. This will help remove any dead skin cells which could contribute to clogged pores.



If necessary, you can treat acne with over-the-counter products, skin care methods, and prescription medications.

Regularly cleanse and exfoliate your skin.

We all know that skin care is a fundamental concept, but it’s essential to keep your skin surface free of dead skin cells and other debris. Kraffert recommends Amarte exfoliPowder, which cleanses and exfoliates simultaneously. This makes this step as easy and effective as possible.


Eradicating your makeup at night

Everyone must remove their makeup before going to bed. This should also include less visible areas, such as above the lip and under the chin.

Use “Good” oils.

It is particularly true for those who use over-the-counter waxes or sugar hair removal products above the lip and on the chin to remove facial hair. These products often have an oil that can clog pores depending on their ingredients. Stick to lighter oils such as sweet almond or Neem oil to clean your skin after waxing. These are less likely to clog your pores.

Add Retinoid To Your Routine

Kraffert says antibiotics and benzoyl are first-line treatments for persistent breakouts around your mouth. Paula’s choice of 1% Retinol treatment is a favorite over-the-counter retinol.

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