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Cause of Acne on the Face: What you Should Know

The cause of acne on the face has been a common argument since time immemorial and in this article, we’ll be putting some facts straight. Acne is said to be a skin condition that occurs when the skin pores are blocked by hair, sebum (which is an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands that coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin), dead skin cells, and bacteria. Before we go any further, you should know that acne is a synonym for pimples. That’s right. Stay tuned for more intriguing information!

Cause of Acne on the Face: Forehead Acne

Cause of Acne on Face on a beautiful lady

The forehead is one spot where pimples crop up frequently. Oil glands are all over the body which simply means acne can be found just about anywhere in the body but it is most commonly found on the face, neck, forehead, chest, shoulders, back, and chest. This is because these parts of the body house more oil glands than the rest.

Forehead acne has many causes including:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Hair and hair products
  • Irritation from makeup 
  • Regular touching of the forehead
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Hygiene (irregular washing of the face and hair)

Forehead pimples usually result from blocked pores on the skin and the above causes just proved it. The forehead is an area where the skin gets naturally oily from a range of sources: its skin oils, oil from your hair, or skincare products that block the pores. So, to avoid or at least minimize the outbreak of forehead acne, wash your hair and face often, use only non-clogging makeup, and don’t use oil or pomade on your hair (or at least don’t let the oil trickle to your forehead or face).

Cause of Acne: Small Bumps on Forehead

Cause of Acne on the Face

You know those bumps that aren’t quite pimples? The ones that reside above your brows and never seem to pop or go away? They can be quite frustrating!

It is safe to say that we can all relate to gratitude to our skin for being such a great protector of our inner bodies, but we’ve also established that it comes with its annoyances; a significant one being small bumps. One can often wonder why those annoying things decide to take residence in the area above the brow.

These bumps cause the skin’s surface to look and feel uneven, and it never develops into the typical “pimple” – pus-filled and inflamed. They are simply congested clogged pores.

These little bumps are caused by an excess of sebum (remember the waxy, oily substance that your sebaceous glands naturally produce?). Excess of sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, causes the pores to become clogged, resulting in protruding follicles and a bumpy texture.

To get rid of small bumps on your forehead, you should:

  • Practice deep oil cleansing. YES! You heard me! Don’t give me that look. I know I stated earlier that excess oil is a cause of acne on the face but did I mention that oil dissolves oil? No? Well, now you know. All of that sebum hiding under the skin and causing protrusion can be dissolved by gently massaging an oil cleanser into the skin, allowing it to grab onto excess oil and soften congestion.
  • Exfoliation. The best form for an exfoliating product to take is a toner and it’s best when it contains salicylic acid as it’s considered to be more soluble than other kinds of exfoliating products. That simply means it can penetrate deeper into the pores for a better, smoother result.
  • Resist the urge to pick! Yield not to temptation, people. No matter how itchy you get to pick those annoying blemishes, avoid them at all costs. These bumps won’t break the skin on their own because they are just congested pores so,  picking them could lead to skin irritation and scarring which in turn can worsen the breakouts.
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White Pimples on Face

White acne on face

White pimples are also known as Milia. They are white, hard bumps with a resemblance to grains of sand trapped under the skin. While they are typically small, some can be larger.

Milia can appear anywhere on the face but are most commonly found around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead. These bumps develop when oil and dead skin cells filled with keratin (the protein that makes up your skin, hair, and nails) become trapped underneath the skin’s surface. 

The good news is that Milia is completely harmless and usually goes away on its own but there are DIY strategies one can employ to speed up its disappearance:

  • Giving yourself an at-home facial. This involves washing the face with a gentle or mild soap. Rinse with clean water and pat dry the face with a clean, soft towel. Then, steam the face for 5-10 minutes, and rinse off with lukewarm water. This is a great strategy to combat the cause of acne on the face.
  • Exfoliating also works. You can do this once a week with a product that contains citric acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid.
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Cystic acne on face and neck of a woman

Painful pimples are called cystic acne. They are known to be the most serious type of acne. It develops when cysts ( A cyst is a growth containing liquid that appears inside the body or under the skin) form underneath the skin. This could be the result of a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells that get trapped and clogs the skin pores.

Simply put, Cystic acne is a type of inflammatory acne that causes painful, pus-filled pimples to form deep under the skin. This type of acne is more likely to cause scarring.

Causes of cystic acne include

  • Hormonal changes during the teenage years and sometimes during menopause.
  • Stress
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications
  • Some skin products

Some home remedies for cystic acne include:

  • Taking constant baths (at least twice a day and after sweating).
  • Avoiding exposure to the sun.
  • Using gentle cleansers for the skin.
  • Relaxing more. Stress causes the body to release hormones which can make acne worse. Sleeping and eating healthy. Exercise helps too.
  • Always resist the urge to touch or pick these cysts. Doing so can push the infection deeper and make it spread. This will also help reduce the risks of scars.
  • In some cases, oral antibiotics are also used for the treatment of cystic acne.

How to avoid pimples on the face

The cause of acne on the face is not limited to pore clogging but includes hormonal changes. It is impossible to completely avoid acne that results from hormonal changes but some measures can help to keep them at the barest minimum. 

  • Keep the face clean. It’s important to wash your face regularly using warm water and mild soap to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and extra oil from your skin’s surface. The use of harsh soap can hurt already inflamed skin causing more irritation. Tread carefully, though, as over-washing of the face can dry the skin out, causing oil overproduction. This can result in more acne.
  • Use makeup sparingly. You don’t have to stop using makeup but stick to using “non-comedogenic” products and ensure to remove all makeup at the end of each day. 
  • Keep your hair clean. When oil moves from the hair to the skin, it can worsen acne. Washing the hair regularly using a gentle shampoo and conditioner helps put the cause of acne on the face in check.
  • Eat healthily, exercise daily, and relax more.
  • Keep your hands to yourself.


Acne is not a death sentence. It’s normal. It’s the most common skin problem there is. Some get them at a young age and some at a much later age. The cause of acne on the face is chiefly the blockage of skin pores by bacteria, sebum, dirt and in some cases hormonal changes. While it is almost impossible to keep them away, employing the simple DIYs discussed above can help manage them properly.

5 thoughts on “Cause of Acne on the Face: What you Should Know”

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