For some people, the phrase “chin acne” means big, painful pimples that continue to pop up again and again. They creep along your jawline and multiply seemingly over night. (And they’re not alone: celebs from Miley Cyrus to Demi Lovato suffer from these frustrating pimples.)
The worst part is when people tell you they’re caused by hormones, because it means there’s nothing you can do. Or is there?
As it turns out, educating yourself and taking the right steps toward a skincare routine that’s specifically targeted towards chin acne can go a long way. Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center, is breaking down what makes this type of acne so resistant to our favorite spot treatments—and what you can do to ensure a clearer future for your face.
Yes, you can blame hormones.
It’s no myth that they’re often what’s behind your worst pimples. “Women tend to break out on the lower third of the face, especially the jawline and chin, but the neck may also be involved,” says Dr. Zeichner. “This pattern, which I affectionately refer to as the ‘beard of acne,’ is a hormonally responsive area. Hormones stimulate oil production, which promote acne causing bacteria to grow and encourage pores to become clogged.”
You can’t rely on oral antibiotics alone.
They can be a temporary solution, but this is a case where there’s no magic pill to banish chin acne and breakouts forever. “Oral antibiotics directly kill acne-causing bacteria and can help reduce inflammation in the skin. They work while you are taking them and oftentimes for a few months after discontinuing, but the acne can recur. I rarely give out an oral antibiotic by itself—instead I have patients use a topical acne medication at the same time and continue to use the topicals as maintenance after discontinuing the oral antibiotic.” So know that rethinking your daily skincare routine can go a long ways toward ensuring your chin area stays clear.
Go for a one-two punch.
Don’t be afraid to use more than one product. “Combination therapy using medicines that address as many factors that lead to acne as possible is the best way to treat the skin. In terms of over-the-counter treatments, you can combine benzoyl peroxide with salicylic acid. Together, they kill acne causing bacteria, open pimples, promote eoliation, and help remove oil.” In other words: being strategic about what products you group together can lead to better success at banishing chin acne forever.
Still not better? Head to the derm.
Sometimes it takes a prescription-strength product to get the job done. “If your face is not improving after a few weeks, visit your dermatologist for a prescription. In terms of topicals, you may be instructed to use benzoyl peroxide (at an Rx strength), topical antibiotics, topical retinoids (like Tazorac, Differin, or Retin-A), or topical dapsone (like Aczone). They also may want you to try oral antibiotics, hormonal therapies, or, in severe cases, Isotretinoin.”
It seems like a lot to consider, but knowing that there’s help available is, well, a big help. Oh also? You’ll like the sound of this: “Chin acne is treatable, and we can prevent the development of permanent scars with early, appropriate action,” reassures Dr. Zeichner. Hormones have nothing on that.