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A Guide To Understanding Acne

A Guide To Understanding Acne
Fragrance Direct Blog
Writer and expert4 years ago
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Whether you’re involved in a long-term relationship with acne, or you suffer from occasional breakouts, understanding the cause can be the key to successful treatment.

From hormonal imbalances to stress, environment, or even diet, there are plenty of possible causes. And, good news, dermatologists are often able to tell the reason for your breakout based on its appearance and location.

Read on for everything you need to know about acne face mapping and spot treatment and trial a couple of solutions at home before shelling out for a dermatologist appointment. If you still can’t crack it, consider booking yourself in for a professional check. It might just be the best thing you ever do for your skin.

What is face mapping for acne?

Face mapping has been around for years, evolving from ancient techniques with not much evidence to support them. The idea is that internal issues show themselves on different parts of your face. For example, face mapping believes that acne on your forehead could mean a problem with your liver.

While internal issues can cause acne and breakouts, it’s not realistic to jump to these kinds of conclusions every time a new spot appears. We can, however, suggest some possible reasons for your skin troubles based on where the problem sits.

Different types of spots

Before we get into the where of your acne or breakouts, let’s look at the what. There are six main types of spots which can be caused by different things and need treating in different ways.


You know the ones. Blackheads are small black or yellowish spots, sometimes raised, which develop inside pores. Blackheads aren’t necessarily filled with dirt but can be coloured because the inside of the hair follicle produces colour. Blackheads will sometimes empty when squeezed.


Whiteheads are similar in size and appearance to blackheads, although the centre of the spot will be white instead of black or yellow. Whiteheads might be firmer than blackheads.


A papule is a small red bump which can feel tender when touched.


Pustules are small red bumps, like papules, but have a white head in the centre. Pustules are filled with puss and are the kind of spots that will pop when squeezed.


A nodule is a large, hard spot which sits beneath the surface of the skin. Nodules can be painful, and no amount of squeezing will pop them.


The most difficult type of spot to treat, cysts are large, puss-filled lumps that are hard to remove and should be treated professionally. Cysts are the most likely type of acne spot to scar.

Face mapping – what do spots mean?

You might be able to tell a little about the cause of your acne or breakout depending on where it is on your face. Whether it’s your chin, forehead, cheeks, or back, read on for help understanding the cause of your blemishes.

Acne or spots on the chin

Spots or acne on your chin? If you’re wondering what it means, you’re in luck! The chin is affected quite significantly by hormones.

Dermatologists and specialists have found plenty of research linking spots on the chin, jaw, and lower cheeks to hormonal changes. This part of the face is known as the U-zone. It’s often a problem area for teenagers who’re going through puberty.

While it’s not always the case, hormonal wobbles can cause acne on your chin. If hormones are the cause of your skin problems, the type of acne you see on your chin will most likely be cystic. That means large, sore red bumps which won’t squeeze and small whiteheads that don’t break through the surface.

Of course, there are other possible causes for acne on your chin, like touching or leaning on the area regularly or a reaction to something in your diet.

Some possible causes for hormonal imbalances that can cause chin breakouts are:

  • Your period
  • A messy sleep routine
  • You’ve stopped taking your contraceptive pill
  • Stress

The best way to deal with chin acne is to try and identify the cause. If you’re suffering from regular or constant acne on your chin, think about the above hormonal influencers and try to figure out if one of them is affecting you.

Acne or spots on the cheeks

Spots on the cheeks can be a real pain. They’re super-visible, hard to conceal, and are often sore and red. There are several possible reasons for cheek acne or breakouts, most of which you can control if you understand them properly.

Some dermatologists connect the cheeks to the respiratory system, which includes the lungs and other organs involved in converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. When something bothers your respiratory system, like smoking, allergies, or pollution, you might find you breakout on your cheeks.

The most common cause of cheek acne or breakouts, however, is the transferring of grime and bacteria from other surfaces like your hands, your phone, or an unwashed pillowcase. To combat this, try to be aware of what touches your face. Keep your phone and pillowcases clean and most importantly – hands off!

Acne or spots on the forehead

Another common area for acne or spot breakouts is the forehead. There are several reasons for spots on your forehead; whatever it is that’s getting you, we’re sure you’ll want to do something about it if you can.

Forehead spots can be the result of bladder or digestive problems. These kinds of problems come from the things you eat or don’t eat and the amount of water you’re drinking.

If you’re fighting a constant battle with forehead acne, try increasing the amount of water you consume to at least two litres a day, or cutting processed foods out of your diet. Alternatively, try cutting back on things like dairy, caffeine, and alcohol, all of which can cause spots on your forehead.

Forehead acne or breakouts can also come from puberty or stress. While you can’t necessarily control these things, understanding the cause can be a good way to come to terms with your temporary skin problems.

Acne or spots on the hairline

Hairline acne or spots are – sigh – pretty common. If you have red bumps or whiteheads along your hairline or on your scalp, you’re probably suffering from this type of acne or breakout.

There are several possible causes of hairline spots. Some are controllable, while others are a little more difficult to manage. Take a look below and think about whether any of these factors might be affecting your skin’s condition:

  • Hair hygiene
  • Makeup in the hairline
  • Hair products
  • Helmets, hats, or headbands
  • Hormones
  • Genetics

The good news is, if your hairline acne is coming from an external influencer like grease, makeup, or sweat and dirt trapped by helmets, hats, or headbands, you should be able to deal with it easily. Whether you start washing your hair more frequently or switch your foundation to a lighter coverage that won’t clog pores, adjusting one of these factors should help clear up your acne or breakout quickly.

If, however, you have more severe hairline acne caused by hormonal changes or genetics, you’ll need to be more patient when it comes to treatment. Try picking up an anti-acne medication, wash, or lotion to clear away the spots, and always treat the area with care.

Treating the different types of spots

Now you know a little more about the different types of acne and breakout, you’re better placed to start treatment.

If you think your problem is grease or grime, or that your skin is touching something dirty, you can remove that influencer from the picture. Whether you stop touching your face, wash your pillows once a week, or take a break from your favourite headgear, you might find that the problem clears up within a couple of weeks.

If you’re worried that your acne or breakouts are coming from hormonal wobbles or genetics, for example, if you frequently breakout on your chin or forehead, it might be time to visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist can recommend changes to your diet and daily routine that might help clear up your blemishes or provide medications to see them off.

For more help understanding skincare, keep exploring the Fragrance Direct blog. From a guide to SPF to hypoallergenic beauty, there’s plenty of information to help you uncover your best-ever skin.

Fragrance Direct Blog
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