Picture this: you glance at yourself in the mirror and notice an inflamed bump sitting just above your eyebrow. You edge closer, thinking, “Is that… is that a pimple? On my eyebrow?!”

Yes. Eyebrows can be home to a zit just like any other area of your face. And while you might not expect it, it’s actually very common.

The most common cause of a pimple on your eyebrow is acne. This happens when hair follicles get clogged with dead skin cells and oil.

You don’t need to worry about eyebrow pimples, even if they’re messing with your #drip. In the majority of cases, they can be treated at home fairly quickly and painlessly.

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Eyebrow pimples are not a huge mystery. There are only a few possible causes.

The skin glands make too much sebum

Sebum is an oily substance that the sebaceous glands under the skin produce. Every pore in the skin has some sebum, along with a hair follicle. The hair follicle brings the sebum to the skin’s surface.

Sebum is important. It helps transport antioxidants and promotes skin health by carrying dead skin cells, dirt, and other waste out of the pores. Though it doesn’t completely rid the skin of dirt and debris. Sebum also protects the skin and hair from water loss.

It may even help regulate immune responses against certain bacteria.

But there’s such a thing as too much sebum, and some parts of the skin, like the forehead, nose, and chin, can produce too much of it.

Excess sebum can trap dead skin cells and debris inside the pores, leading to a buildup of bacteria that causes an infection that will eventually trigger the body’s immune response. That can result in oily skin, inflammation, and acne.

If there’s excess sebum in the skin around your eyebrows, that can easily result in a pimple.

Ingrown hairs

When a strand of hair gets trapped under the skin, it curls back up, causing it to grow backward or sideways into the skin. This is an ingrown hair (as commonly seen with folliculitis barbae).

Ingrown hairs often occur after shaving, plucking, tweezing, or waxing the eyebrows.

They can also trap dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria inside the hair follicle. This can cause mild skin irritation or an infection and might eventually develop into a cyst.

They often look like a pimple, and symptoms include:

  • itchy or tender skin
  • a small red or pink bump that grows bigger
  • a red pus-filled bump with a hair inside

Using irritating cosmetics

Certain beauty products can clog the hair follicles and pores around your eyebrow area.

Face products like a moisturizer or foundation or even a hair product can irritate the skin. The risk of an eyebrow pimple increases if you have bangs that fall down to your brows.

Makeup brushes and sponges can also be a culprit. Bacteria and other debris can collect on their surface. To avoid this, clean or replace your applicators regularly.

Oil from hair and styling products can also transfer to the pores along the forehead and brow line, leading to irritation and acne.

Some other possible causes of eyebrow pimples include:

Acne

If you regularly notice pimples on and around your eyebrows, it’s probably because of acne.

When pores and hair follicles clog up, they release an excess amount of sebum. This can trap dead skin cells and bacteria — cue an acne breakout.

The types of acne you might see on your eyebrows include:

  • Whiteheads. These are closed pimples under your skin’s surface.
  • Blackheads. These are open pimples that look black due to the melanin.
  • Papules. These are red or pink bumps that feel tender.
  • Pustules. These are pimples with a pocket of pus on top.
  • Nodules. These are large and painful and penetrate deep into the skin.
  • Cysts. These are large and painful and filled with pus.

Acne is extremely common. Plus, you can usually treat it at home. But severe or persistent acne may mean that you need to speak to a doctor.

A compromised liver

According to ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, eyebrow pimples could be a sign of liver stress, which can be a result of poor dietary habits or emotional stress.

The liver acts as a filtration system and removes toxins, dead cell debris, and other waste from the blood. Inflammation of the liver can be caused by excessive alcohol use, poor diet, and a lack of physical exercise.

When a liver becomes compromised, it can leave more toxic material in the blood, which can travel to the skin and other parts of the body.

Whether your eyebrow pimple is caused by acne or an ingrown hair, it should be fairly simple to treat it at home on your own.

OTC or prescription medicine

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments available that will effectively treat eyebrow pimples.

However, if you have severe or persistent acne, you may have to get a prescription-strength treatment from a doctor.

Spot treatments made of drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are great for mild pimples or small blemishes. These products work by removing dead skin cells and reducing bacteria.

A dermatologist can prescribe a prescription topical or oral medication for moderate to severe acne.

Natural and home remedies

It’s beyond tempting to pop a pimple hanging out around your eyebrow. Try not to do this, as it can lead to bleeding and scarring. A trained medical professional should handle pimple extractions.

Instead, you can press a warm washcloth against the pimple for a few moments to help reduce swelling.

You can also spot treat the pimple with natural products such as:

If you want to cover up the pimple, you can use concealer or foundation to do so.

If you’re experiencing severe or persistent acne, or you think you have a large cyst, you should contact your doctor.

A medical professional can help with treatments such as:

  • pimple extractions
  • a prescription for a stronger acne medication

Treating eyebrow pimples may help in the moment. But you really want to try and prevent them from appearing again in the near future.

Preventing pimples

Preventative measures can easily be done at home.

  • Wash your face twice a day and after sweating to remove oil and dirt buildup.
  • Exfoliate 2 or 3 times a week to get rid of dead skin cells.
  • Wash your hair regularly or keep it away from your face.
  • Moisturize to avoid drying out your skin, which can result in excess sebum.
  • Always wash your makeup off before bed.
  • Use noncomedogenic makeup products and oil-free sunscreen.
  • Try to avoid stress.
  • Clean sports equipment like helmets and goggles with antibacterial wipes.

Preventing ingrown hairs

  • Avoid shaving, tweezing, plucking, or waxing if possible.
  • Wash your face and exfoliate before hair removal to ensure you’re getting rid of any dirt and dead skin cells.
  • Moisturize the skin before hair removal to soften the hair follicle
  • Clean razors or tweezers before you use them.
  • Choose a gentler hair removal method, like an electric clipper, hair removal cream, sugaring, or electrolysis.

Not sure if that bump on your eyebrow is a pimple? It could be something else.

If it’s a pimple, it will likely be small, white, black, or flesh-colored, and will sit just below the surface of the skin. It might look swollen or red if it’s inflamed.

If it doesn’t look like that, it could be one of the following types of skin bumps.

Cysts

Cysts are closed pockets of tissue that contain fluid, air, or pus. They develop from clogged oil glands.

They can sometimes look similar to a pimple, but they don’t sit close to the surface. Instead, a cysts forms in the deeper layers of skin and contains debris and skin cells.

You can’t pop them like a pimple. They might feel more like a blister. One type of acne, cystic acne, causes a wider outbreak of cysts. This could well be behind your eyebrow bump.

Dermatofibroma

Dermatofibroma is a benign lump that forms under the skin.

Most of the time, these don’t cause changes to the skin. They’re small and measure less than 1 centimeter in diameter. They also range in color from a pinkish-tan to reddish-brown.

While, not impossible, this would be unusual in the eyebrow.

Pimples on eyebrows are common and typically happen because of acne or ingrown hair.

You can usually treat these pimples at home with an OTC medication or cream. You can also try natural remedies like tea tree oil or green tea.

If you have severe or persistent acne, you may need to see a doctor for prescription-strength medication or pimple extraction.

You can prevent future eyebrow pimples by regularly washing your face, moisturizing, and using noncomedogenic makeup products. You can also avoid hair removal like shaving, tweezing, or waxing to prevent ingrown hairs.