The fact that hairline acne’s super common doesn’t make that bumpy halo any less annoying! Sure, you could hide those suckers under your quarantine bangs, but in the long run you don’t want a crown of hairline pimples. Here’s how to zap those zits.

Hairline pimples 101

What are they? Hairline pimples are a symptom of acne — a skin condition that occurs when dirt, oil, or bacteria clog pores or hair follicles. They appear along the hairline and scalp.

Who gets them? Breakouts are super common during puberty, but anyone can get pimples. Adult acne is also common and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

How do I get rid of them? There are tons of self-care and doctor-prescribed treatments to try. It boils down to what works best for you and your skin.

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There’s a good chance you’re dealing with a simple pimple, but there are other skin ailments that can cause similar looking bumps. Here’s how to tell the difference.

Signs it’s a pimple:Signs it’s not a pimple:
smalllarger than normal zit
red or discoloredblack or brown
white headpus or blood that oozes or crusts over
clears up in a few dayslasts for more than a week
slightly painful or tenderhard, firm, or solid
isolated to one areaspreads to other areas of the body

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, doctors still don’t know the exact cause of acne. There are some common triggers, though, including:

  • Hormones: Oh hormones, always getting the blame. But that’s because it might be their fault! A research review showed that elevated hormone levels are associated with acne.
  • Genes: Breakouts might be hereditary. One study found 15 genetic points that contribute to acne.
  • Medication: Some meds can muck up your skin’s natural vibe and cause acne.
  • Products: Your fave hair care or makeup brands might be clogging up your precious pores.

What aggravates acne?

You might experience more hairline breakouts if you:

Some good news: There’s no strong evidence to prove acne is caused by chocolate or oily foods. Yay!

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Banishing hairline acne can take some trial and error. Think of it as a three-step process:

  1. Prevent new flare-ups.
  2. Get rid of existing zits.
  3. Reduce scars from past blemishes.


The saying “the best defense is a good offense” totally applies here. Simple changes to your daily routine can prevent future acne attacks.

  • Makeup: Try to avoid a full face of makeup when you can. And when you do use it, make sure it’s oil-free. Avoid old cosmetics that may be contaminated with dirt or bacteria. Always use clean dry brushes and applicators.
  • Skin care: Use mild, oil-free products designed for your skin type. Gently wash your skin to remove dirt, makeup, excess oil, and bacteria. And don’t forget to moisturize!
  • Hair care: Use clean combs, brushes, and hair accessories. Don’t over wash your hair or use harsh products.
  • Body: You know the healthy living drill: Stay hydrated. Eat nutritious foods. Get plenty of sleep. Do things that bust stress and anxiety.


Pimple prevention doesn’t always cut it. You may need to take your treatment to the next level. But don’t worry! You have lots of options.

  • Medications: There’s a huge range of acne meds on the market, such as prescription medications and topical creams. Over-the-counter topical creams may help too. Some drugs address the zits directly or treat the underlying causes (e.g., hormone imbalance). You’ll need to consult with a doc for a prescription.
  • Procedures: Some treatments should never be DIY. Medical professionals must perform laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and vampire facials.

If your zits are super stubborn, it’s time to see a doc. They’ll help you figure out the best way to get the glow-up you deserve.

In addition to a skin exam, expect them to ask about your:

  • diet
  • medications
  • skin care routines
  • family health history
  • lifestyle and environmental factors

This info can help them determine what’s causing your breakouts in order to suggest the best course of treatment. Some docs may offer natural or alternative approaches in addition to meds.

Mental health PSA

Talk to a doctor or mental health professional if acne is causing, or worsening, your anxiety, stress, or depression. And remember, you’re not alone. Acne is very common and nothing to be ashamed of.

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It might not be acne

Some conditions are confused with acne on the reg. Go to the doctor if you have a rash, flaking skin, or a fever. These and other symptoms may be a sign of:

Other possibilities include the measles or chickenpox. These illnesses can cause a rash or blistering along the hairline.

Ain’t no shame in the acne game. Hairline pimples are harmless, but living with them can be a total pain in the, uhm, face.

For a clearer complexion, cleanse your skin daily and avoid known acne triggers. Give your doc a call if basic methods aren’t doing the trick. They can offer more advanced treatments to send your pimples packing.