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So you woke up with a giant pimple. While every bone in your body may want to squeeze that sucker into oblivion, we’re asking you to take a deep breath and give this article a read.
Chin acne, like acne on other areas of your skin, can have a number of different culprits. The good news is that, with a little TLC, pimples on your chin or elsewhere are often easy to treat. And you can manage more stubborn breakouts with the help of a dermatologist.
The key is figuring out what’s causing the chaos around your chin and choosing the right treatment plan. Here’s your ultimate guide to getting rid of chin pimples — and keeping them from coming back.
Acne on your chin, face, or elsewhere forms when hair follicles on your skin get clogged up with oil or dead skin cells, leading to dark purple or bright red bumps, blackheads, whiteheads, or pus-filled pimples.
Having oilier skin or not thoroughly washing your face (like going to sleep with makeup on) can cause gunk or bacteria to build up and form pimples. But pimples can also be the result of stress, certain meds (like steroids, antidepressants, and some birth control meds), or even a diet that includes a lot of refined carbs or chocolate.
Hormones can play a role too. While puberty makes everyone more prone to breakouts, fluctuating hormones can make women susceptible to acne way beyond the teenage years.
Research suggests hormonal acne can sometimes form a U shape on the face, developing on the sides of the cheeks and down around the chin. You might notice you’re more likely to break out on your chin a week or so before your period, for instance. Big life changes like pregnancy, perimenopause, or menopause can also mess with your skin.
An underlying medical condition could also cause acne to develop. Acne on the chin or elsewhere combined with irregular periods, excessive hair growth, or rapid weight gain could be related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or another endocrine disorder.
The list goes on. Rosacea, which causes facial redness, can also give you hot, pimple-like bumps. Even an ingrown hair — a shaved or tweezed hair that grows back into your skin — can cause inflammation and trigger the growth of a chin pimple.
A mild or moderate breakout on your chin isn’t fun to look at. Your immediate urge might be to pop, pick, or squeeze that pimple to make it disappear. Don’t do it.
Prodding will actually spread bacteria from the zit to other areas of your skin, upping the odds for more pimples and slowing your healing overall. Picking at pimples also increases the risk of scarring.
So what should you do instead? You can usually get rid of it with an over-the-counter or prescription topical treatment designed to either kill the bacteria that’s causing the inflammation or reduce oil production to keep your pores from clogging.
Here are some of the options:
- Retinoids. Creams and gels like tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene keep breakouts at bay by stopping dead skin and oil from plugging up hair follicles.
- Salicylic acid. This option works similarly to retinoids, though it’s a less potent form. It’s added to some face washes, or you can use it as a spot treatment.
- Azeleic acid. This antibacterial acid is usually available in cream form. Unlike many other acne treatments, it can be used when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Dapsone. Gels containing Dapsone can be especially useful for hormonal acne in women.
- Antibacterial ointments. These are often used in combination with benzoyl peroxide and retinoids to fight bacteria on the skin and tamp down inflammation.
Your doctor might recommend prescription oral meds for cystic acne on your chin or acne that doesn’t respond to topical treatments. Typical options:
- Antibiotics. Meds like tetracycline can get bacteria on your skin in check and reduce overall inflammation. They tend to work best when paired with topical treatments like retinoids and benzoyl peroxide.
- Birth control pills. Estrogen-progestin combo pills like Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yaz are also approved to treat acne, though they can sometimes take a few months to show results.
- Anti-androgen drugs. These meds, which work by blocking the effects of certain hormones to tamp down the skin’s oil production, can be an option for women when antibiotics don’t work.
- Isotretinoin. This is a heavy-duty drug reserved for the worst cases. It can clear up severe acne but comes with the risk of serious side effects like depression, suicide, or fetal development issues.
Non-medicinal treatments like light therapy, chemical peels, or extractions can also help clear up chin acne. But since these treatments don’t address the root cause, there’s a good chance the pimples will come back without repeat treatments.
Once you’ve gotten your chin breakout under control, your next order of business is to keep it from coming back. Here’s how:
- Take a look at your skin care products. Make sure the moisturizers, cleansers, sunscreen, and makeup you’re using are oil-free so they won’t clog your pores. Look for terms like “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic” on the labels.
- Wash your face well — and often. Lather up in the morning and at night, as well as any time you’ve been sweating. Using your fingertips, massage a gentle, alcohol-free cleanser into your skin, and then rinse with warm water. Steer clear of abrasive washcloths or scrubs, which can irritate your skin and make breakouts worse.
- Shampoo on the reg. Oil from your scalp and hair can easily make its way onto your face and trigger breakouts, especially if you’re acne-prone. If your hair is on the greasy side, try to wash it daily.
- Don’t touch your face. Every time you do, you’re transferring dirt and grime onto your skin that can set the stage for a breakout.
- Look at your diet. Refined carbs and cow’s milk may increase breakouts. If you notice that your skin gets worse when you eat certain foods, make an effort to cut back on them.
Got it? Good. Chin pimples might pop up at the worst moments, but with a little effort, you can get rid of them ASAP.