Chin Pimples

Chin pimples are a relatively common skin complaint which can be caused by many different things. Sometimes pimples on the chin will be accompanied by blemishes elsewhere on the face and body, and in other cases, they will be localized to the jawline only.

What are chin pimples?

Chin pimples are a type of acne. They occur when pores in the skin become blocked, both by oil naturally produced by the skin and other substances found on the surface of the skin, such as dead skin cells and bacteria.

When pores become blocked, a plug is created. This is known as a comedone. Comedones can either be open to the skin, in which case they’re known as blackheads. However, if they remain closed to the surface of the skin, they instead bulge outwards and create a raised bump. In this case, they’re called whiteheads.

Bacteria, which usually lives harmlessly on the skin, can contaminate plugged pores. In these instances, the bacteria infects the blocked pore, resulting in a pimple which contains a white, milky substance called pus. Sometimes the pimples will be on the surface of the skin, and in others, they will be deeper in the skin and may be much more painful.

Why do chin pimples occur?

Pimples on the chin can be caused by many different things, but one of the main reason for pores becoming blocked is the skin’s overproduction of oil. Oil called sebum is naturally produced by the skin to keep it lubricated and healthy. However, if too much sebum is produced, pores can become blocked.

There are several reasons why sebum may be produced in excess.

Hormones

Changing hormone levels can affect many normal processes in the body, including sebum production. Many people experience acne and chin pimples during puberty when testosterone levels increase, something which occurs in both girls and boys.

For adult women, pimples on the chin commonly occur as a result of other types of hormone changes. It is common to experience flare-ups of chin pimples just before a menstrual period. Pimples and acne can occur in some women during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, which leads to abnormal hormonal changes, are also susceptible to chin pimples and acne.

When pimples occur only on the chin and nowhere else on the face and body, hormones are frequently the main cause of the problem. However, other factors may contribute to the development of pimples.

Medications

Some medicines can trigger the flare-up of pimples. In some instances, the pimples may dissipate once the body adjusts to the new medication. In others, they may continue to occur throughout treatment, and in these instances, it may be preferable to find alternative treatments.

The following types of medicine are particularly well-known for causing pimples:

  • Steroids
  • Lithium (a mood stabilizer)
  • Anti-epileptic drugs

Skin or haircare products

Sometimes cosmetic products – particularly those which are very oily – may be responsible for blocking the pores rather than excess sebum. Moisturizers, makeup products and sunscreens tend to be the most common causes because they can be very thick and heavy.

It may also be possible for hair products to block the pores in the same way. This is more likely in individuals who have bangs or short hair which frequently rubs against the jawline.

Some products can contribute to pimples not because they’re too oily, but because they’re too drying. Certain soaps can strip natural moisture from the skin, which can cause the skin to produce extra sebum in an attempt to stay hydrated. This extra production may then lead to blocked pores.

Sweat

Sweat can block the pores in a similar way to excess sebum. Individuals who sweat more excessively than others may be more susceptible to pimples, but only if they do not remove the sweat from the skin as soon as possible.

Diet and nutrition

It is thought that diet may contribute to skin pimples, but it is not clear if there are certain types of food which should always be avoided. For example, some people may simply react badly to certain foods due to a mild intolerance, and this could worsen existing acne.

In other instances, an unbalanced diet might make it more difficult for the body to regulate hormone levels, sebum production, and other processes which help to prevent pimples. Ultimately, diet does not necessarily cause chin pimples, but it could make them worse.

Shaving

In men, pimples that occur only on the chin may be caused by shaving. Unclean razors may introduce bacteria to the hair follicles and result in infection. Alternatively, blunt razor blades may lead to ingrown hairs which could create bumps on the skin. Sometimes ingrown hairs can become infected which leads to pus-filled pimples.

Humidity

Weather can affect skin health in many different ways. For example, very cold weather can dry out the skin and cause irritation. Humidity can contribute to pimples because it can lead to excessive sweating which could block the pores.

Smoking

It is thought that smoking may contribute to pimples and acne for some people, but it is not clear exactly why this occurs. It is thought that since smoking constricts blood vessels, the skin may not receive adequate oxygen which could alter the content of sebum and lead to blocked pores.

Quitting smoking is also known to cause pimple breakouts. This probably occurs as a result of the body withdrawing from the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. However, pimples caused by quitting smoking are only ever temporary. For some, they may occur for just a few days or weeks, while for others they could last for months. Eventually, though, the pimples will dissipate.

Complications of chin pimples

Pimples on the skin may lead to permanent scarring. This is particularly common if pimples are very large and take a long time to heal. Scarring is more likely to occur if the pimples are squeezed, picked or scraped, which is why it’s important to avoid touching them.

If pimples are very severe, they may lead to emotional stress as individuals become self-conscious about their appearance. In these instances, patients should visit their doctor as soon as possible to discuss treatment options and prevent the development of more severe mental health problems.

Treatment for chin pimples

Finding the root cause of chin pimples is the first step in treatment. For example, individuals who use heavy sunscreen could try switching to a lighter product to see if their pimples improve. Those who find their chin pimples worsen after eating certain foods could try adjusting their diet.

For people with hormonal acne, doctors may be able to administer medicines which can stabilize hormone levels. For example, women who get severe pimple breakouts before their period may see their skin problems improve by using a hormonal contraceptive, which could balance hormone levels throughout their menstrual cycle.

In other instances, medications or treatments may be prescribed that will work to reduce the amount of sebum produced by the skin. This could include:

  • Antibiotic pills or topical creams to remove bacteria which contributes to pimples
  • Oral medicines, such as capsules or tablets
  • Topical gels, creams, or ointments applied directly to the skin
  • Medicated soaps or facewashes
  • Laser treatments
  • Chemical peels

Some medicated skin products are available over-the-counter and contain active ingredients that can help to treat or prevent acne. They work by drying excess sebum, killing bacteria on the surface of the skin, or causing the very top layers of the skin to peel. The most common active ingredients found in these products are:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Sulfur
  • Resorcinol

Generally, over-the-counter products contain lower doses of active ingredients than those which must be prescribed by a doctor. Many people are advised to try the over-the-counter products first and should return to their doctor if they don’t achieve the results they expect.

It’s important to note that some acne medicines can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Use a lightweight sunscreen or wear hats to cover the face and prevent skin damage and sunburn.

Daily skincare for chin pimples

For some people with chin pimples, very simple changes to their skincare routine are enough to resolve the problem. The following practices are recommended for anyone with chin pimples, even if they are also undergoing other treatments prescribed by their doctor:

  • Use a mild, non-drying soap to wash the face once or twice each day and after exercise
  • Wash the face as soon as possible after exercising
  • Use a lightweight, water-based facial moisturizer to hydrate skin after washing
  • Avoid the use of rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based toners unless otherwise directed by a doctor
  • Pull hair back from the face if it tends to rub against the jaw area
  • Shampoo hair regularly if it gets oily very easily
  • Change razor blades regularly if shaving the face

The following tips will also help to prevent further pimples from developing on the skin:

  • Do not squeeze, scratch, pick or rub pimples
  • Avoid touching the chin area as much as possible, and only do so with clean hands
  • Never leave makeup on overnight
  • Avoid very greasy or heavy cosmetics or skincare products