Health care

Breakouts Around Your Mouth: What Is Causing Them?

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Have you noticed acne around your mouth? Or maybe you’re dealing with uneven texture or redness. While acne near the mouth is an issue for some, there are other common causes of texture, redness and bumps in that area. Read on as we explore the different types of skin issues that can develop around the mouth, how to identify them, what causes them and how to treat them.

Acne Around The Mouth 

Acne is a skin condition that can show up as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and other blemishes. The four main factors that contribute to acne according to the Mayo Clinic are excess oil (sebum) production, clogged hair follicles, bacteria and inflammation. On top of this, there are certain things that may trigger or worsen acne, including hormonal changes, certain medications and stress. 

While it can often be confused for other issues, especially when it’s limited to a certain area like the lips, jawline and chin, acne around the mouth tends to look like “typical” acne. Along with redness, you’ll see pustules (whiteheads) and some congestion (comedones or blackheads). This could be triggered by a few things. Touching your face with your hands can introduce acne-causing bacteria to your skin, as can using things around the mouth that may be covered in bacteria (cell phones and some musical instruments). Additionally, certain ingredients in products like lip gloss can clog pores and contribute to acne in the area, according to Byrdie

New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Hooman Khorasani, tells us: “The most common form of acne found on or around the lip is non-inflammatory comedonal acne, where white or black comedones are often seen. Comedonal acne results when the hair follicles on the lip margins are occluded. The most common culprit lies in the application of occlusive products such as Vaseline, lip balm, makeup or other comedogenic creams. Treatment involves discontinuing the application of the occlusive agent, as well as application of topical tretinoin and exfoliation.” 

Another common cause of acne around the mouth is wearing a mask. Heat and moisture can get trapped against the skin, irritating the oil glands, which can result in pimples — or “maskne” as it has come to be known in the post-2020 era. Bacteria thrive in a moist and humid environment, making frequent maskers (like spa professionals and hospital workers) susceptible to breakouts in the area. Wearing makeup under a mask doesn’t help and neither does reusing masks without washing them (with gentle detergent) after each wear. 

Hormones can also be the culprit when it comes to blemishes along the chin and jawline. Though we often associate acne with our teen years, hormonal acne can appear at any time and is caused by an excess of hormones due to menstruation, pregnancy and increased androgen levels. These fluctuations result in inflammation, excessive oil production, clogged skin cells and bacteria production. While it tends to appear in the T-zone during puberty, hormonal acne typically forms along the chin and jawline in adults. 

Whatever the cause, make sure to keep the area clean. A swipe of the Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliating Peel is a great way to minimize breakouts in the area, especially under a mask or face covering. It contains gentle salicylic acid that removes surface impurities and dirt from the skin and willow bark to improve the look of the skin in the area. 

How To Treat Acne Around The Mouth

If this is what you’re seeing around the mouth, cleansing and exfoliating the area is the best way to treat it. Our Acne Advanced Cleansing Foam is a great place to start. It contains encapsulated salicylic acid which gently exfoliates and tones the look of uneven skin. Follow it up with the Acne Advanced Clarifying Mask and Acne Advanced Clarifying Hydrator and you’ll be good to go. 

Our Clear Skin Probiotic products are another option for treating acne around the mouth. Try the Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser, which gives a soft, gentle foaming action, and follow it with the Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer. Creamy and lightweight, it applies really nicely to the skin. Both use tea tree oil, willow bark extract and cucumber to help treat the skin. 

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a red rash that can appear around the mouth. Signs of this condition include scaly, dry and flaky skin with swollen, inflamed bumps called papules — no wonder it can easily be mistaken for acne. This rash is most common in young women between the ages of 15 and 45. 

Some of the causes of perioral dermatitis include the use of topical steroid creams, hormonal changes and dysfunction in the epidermal layer. It can also be triggered by ingredients in products that you use in the area, so changes in toothpaste, irritants from shaving cream and even certain types of chewing gum can bring on this uncomfortable condition. Other things that can aggravate it include coffee, alcohol and spicy foods. While eliminating these things from your life isn’t always easy, it can make a big difference once the cause is identified. Pro tip: Brush your teeth before you wash your face so that any potential irritants can be rinsed away. 

Another common ingredient that can cause or exacerbate the condition is SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate, which is used in many facial cleansers. Eminence products contain no SLS, so making the switch to one of our organic cleansers can be a good first step. 

It’s best to cease and desist if any of these culprits are in your rotation. In other words, if you’ve changed something about your routine lately, you may be able to trace it back to one thing and eliminate that. 

Perioral dermatitis may last for months or even years without treatment. There is no cure, but long-term remissions are possible. It is recommended that you consult your doctor or dermatologist if you suspect the rash or breakouts around your mouth are not acne. Sometimes the rash disappears, then reappears. The same treatments that worked the first time are likely to work again.

Watch as our Lead Skin Care Trainer, Natalie Pergar, discusses the difference between acne around the mouth and perioral dermatitis, and suggests some products that help treat acne around the mouth. 


Are you dealing with breakouts or a rash around your mouth? Visit an Eminence Organics Spa Partner to find out whether it’s acne or something else, how to treat it and when to see a dermatologist.  


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