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Acne Around The Mouth: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 05/24/2021

Updated 05/25/2021

If there’s one common truth, it’s that no one loves acne around the mouth and chin. In fact, it’s annoying everywhere, whether it’s on your back, neck or shoulders.

Yet when it comes to what causes acne around the mouth, there can be certain, specific causes. 

Read on to learn what might cause acne around the mouth and chin, and various ways to prevent this skin condition.

If you look closely at the tiny hairs that are dotted across your body, you'll notice that they spring from tiny holes. 

These holes are known as pores, and they contain the hair follicle along with sebaceous glands responsible for producing sebum or oil

Acne forms when these pores become blocked by oil and dead skin cells that are usually shed toward the skin’s surface. 

This blockage usually creates a custom invite for acne-causing bacteria which often lives on the skin’s surface. 

And when oil, skin cells and bacteria build up, the resulting product is known as comedones. It is from this mixture that acne is formed.

Acne may be non-inflammatory, as seen in mild forms like blackheads and whiteheads. It may also be inflammatory, noticeable in papules, pustules, cysts and nodules—and these make up the moderate to severe forms of an acne skin condition.

Breakouts may be the result of oil, skin cells and bacteria fusing together, but this build-up doesn't just happen. A number of factors may be responsible for the formation of acne.

Perhaps the most common cause of acne, especially teenage acne—is the influence of hormones like androgens. 

These androgens can cause the body's production of oil to increase, worsening the chances of experiencing acne. Other factors include:

  • A high-sugar diet: Consuming junk food, candy, sodas, added sugar, etc. can lead to insulin spikes. Excess insulin can stimulate the production of oil, promoting the formation of acne. 

  • Pre-menstrual cycle: Changes that happen before your period hits can lead to fluctuations in hormone levels, and when there is a hormonal imbalance, this can encourage acne breakouts.

  • Extreme stress: When you start to sweat the small stuff (or experience stress for any reason), the body responds by producing androgens, and these hormones in turn stimulate the skin’s oil glands. Excess oil (and blocked pores) can spell acne. 

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Acne around the mouth may be caused by any of these factors. But in particular, it may be the result of:

  • Oil-based cosmetics: Creams, lotion, make-up and other cosmetic products that are oil-based can clog your pores, and when this happens, the oil, skin cells and bacteria party kicks off underneath the skin. The result? Acne.

  • Pressure around the mouth and chin: The presence of acne around the mouth could be the result of continuous pressure or contact with other surfaces. This may be caused by frequently using your mobile phone, for example. 

  • Anything that causes frequent contact (and exposure to bacteria) with the area around the mouth can potentially cause acne.

Other causes of acne include endocrine disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome, pregnancy, excessive exposure to sunlight, medications like lithium and anticonvulsants and a genetic predisposition to acne. 

With blackheads, whiteheads, cysts and nodules being so hard to miss—acne, especially acne around the mouth, is one skin condition anyone would be grateful to avoid.

To help keep the skin around your mouth and chin acne free, here are five preventative measures you can try:

  1. Wash your face twice a day: Keep the surface of your skin clean by washing twice daily to help prevent acne. This is especially important if you frequently sweat during the day.

  2. Use gentle cleansers: Be sure to use mild cleansers that are least likely to irritate your skin. Drying astringents and physical exfoliants can worsen acne. The Hers Deep Sea Cleanser is gentle on acne-prone skin, and also helps to prevent dryness by keeping the skin hydrated.

  3. Avoid oil-based products: Swap oil-based products with non-comedogenic options to help keep skin clear. This simply means using facial moisturizers and make-up that won't clog your pores and leave you reaching for acne medication later.

  4. Keep away from your face: Repeatedly touching your face during the day can irritate skin and introduce bacteria–along with the subsequent formation of acne.

Getting  your acne under control doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, there are several options available to help clear your skin. Here are four ways to treat acne around your mouth:

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids like tretinoin and adapalene are compounds you’ll want in your cabinet when fighting off acne. 

These retinoids have anti-inflammatory properties, and are able to stop the formation of comedones. 

Retinoids are also able to improve the penetration of other topical acne treatments you may apply, and can help with reducing hyperpigmentation when acne is treated.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Whether you have mild or moderate acne around your mouth, benzoyl peroxide is able to improve both inflammatory and non-inflammatory blemishes. 

It is also able to kill off acne-causing bacteria, helping to reduce the appearance of breakouts.


In oral or topical form, antibiotics have been proven effective for managing moderate to severe forms of acne like papules, pustules, cysts and nodules. 

These medications manage acne via their anti-inflammatory properties. 

Popular antibiotics used to treat acne around the mouth and chin include: clindamycin, doxycycline, minocycline and erythromycin.

Antibiotics can also help prevent the growth of acne-causing bacteria. 

Resistance to antibiotics is a common problem, so consult with your healthcare professional to see if the medications might be right for you. 

It is advised to only use antibiotics as required and prescribed, and in conjunction with treatments like benzoyl peroxide that help to topically clear the skin. .

Alternative Acne Treatments

Water, apple cider vinegar, green tea and garlic may sound like the beginnings of an interesting meal, but these home remedies have been shown to hold promise in helping to manage acne. 

Hers Acne Cream with Tretinoin can also help treat acne through a customized blend of tretinoin, clindamycin along with  other acne-fighting ingredients.

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Acne around the mouth and chin may be the product of hormone imbalances or diseases, or it can simply be an unfortunate symptom of too much skin contact with your phone.  

Acne around the mouth and chin is treatable, however, using the right topical treatments, antibiotics or cosmetic procedures.

5 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Sutaria AH, Masood S, Schlessinger J. Acne Vulgaris. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan. Retrieved from:
  2. (n.d) adult acne. Retrieved from:
  3. Ayer, J., & Burrows, N. (2006). Acne: more than skin deep. Postgraduate medical journal, 82(970), 500–506. Retrieved from:
  4. Kraft, J., & Freiman, A. (2011). Management of acne. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de I'Association medicale canadienne, 183(7), E430–E435. Retrieved from:

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.

She received her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master's degree from Thomas Jefferson University. You can find Katelyn on Doximity for more information.

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