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Acne Face Map: What Are Your Spots Telling You?

Reviewed by
Date published
27/04/2022
Date last updated
01/04/2022
Length of read
5 Minutes

Acne is a common condition that affects the skin. Though the condition can often appear on the back and chest, the face is the most common area affected by acne, with almost 100% of sufferers experiencing spots on the hairline, forehead, cheeks, and chin. The skin condition results in spots that are often painful or hot to touch, with many also suffering from oily skin, too.

Acne can reveal different information about your health depending on where it’s located on your face – so here’s what your spots are trying to tell you.

Causes of Acne

The skin on our bodies is covered in hair follicles (also known as pores) which are very small holes on the surface. These hair follicles are connected to the sebaceous gland – a gland that produces an oily substance called sebum. If the hair follicles produce too high a quantity of sebum, it can become clogged up; the follicles can also become clogged with dead skin cells, bacteria and oil. Once they become blocked, they produce spots - a recurrence of spots is known as acne.

Different Types of Acne

Acne can develop in numerous different forms on the skin, with the following being the most common types:

1. Papules

Papules are red bumps that are inflamed on the skin, often being sensitive and tender to touch.

2. Pustules

Common with many acne sufferers, pustules are very similar to papules but have a white or yellow-tip centre and are filled with pus.

3. Whiteheads

Occurring just under the surface of the skin (making them appear white), whiteheads form when the sebum from the pore combines with bacteria and dead skin cells.

4. Blackheads

Occurring when the sebum oxidises at the surface of the skin (causing their colour), blackheads appear on the surface of the skin when the pores are clogged with bacteria and dead skin cells – often black, they can also appear yellow in colour.

5. Nodules

Developing as large, hard lumps underneath the skin’s surface, nodules are one of the more severe forms of acne and can be extremely painful.

6. Cysts

Cysts are the most severe form of acne, presenting as large, inflamed, pus-filled lumps – cysts can often require medical treatment and are extremely painful for most.

Acne Locations

Acne on the Hairline

Acne that forms on and around the hairline is called pomade acne and is a result of one of two causes – either from a build-up of the natural oils caused by the hair itself, or as a result of using certain hair care products. Many hair products contain an increased amount of oil within their formula, which can in turn cause an excess of oil to accumulate in the hairline after use. Acne in this area can also be caused by makeup and cosmetics, also causing oil to collect and block the pores.

Ways to reduce hairline acne include:

  • Cover the hairline with a cloth or hairband when using products such as dry shampoos or hairsprays
  • Use little-to-no makeup around the hairline area if possible
  • Use natural shampoos and hair products with simple ingredients (ones that haven’t got any allergens or oil-based formulas)

Acne on the T-Zone

Our nose and forehead area is known as the T-zone, and it’s a common place for acne to develop for many people. Acne in this area is caused by the sebaceous glands producing an excess of sebum. Those who suffer from naturally oily or dry skin can also be more likely to experience spots in the T-zone, with a lack of sleep and an increase of stress also contributing to acne forming here.

Ways to reduce T-zone acne include:

  • Use gentle cleansers with mild ingredients that have been formulated for oily skin if you have this skin-type
  • Practise good, consistent sleep hygiene
  • Try to reduce your stress levels – this may be through practising meditation or yoga techniques.

Acne on the Cheeks

A common cause of acne on the cheeks is repeated friction or rubbing of the skin in this area. Our hands and fingers can accumulate a high number of bacteria throughout the day, and frequently touching or rubbing the skin on our cheeks will easily transfer this bacteria and cause acne. Likewise, such bacteria can spread from our phones to our cheeks very easily as we use them throughout the day.

Ways to reduce cheek acne include:

  • Change pillowcases every few days, to avoid bacteria building up
  • Use antibacterial wipes to regularly clean phones and handheld devices before using.

Acne on the Chin and Jawline

Research has revealed that acne on the chin and jawline can be caused by a fluctuation in hormones – with both hormones and an increase in stress causing an increase in oil production. The excess of oil can then result in pores becoming blocked, developing spots as a result of this. This can be a reason why many women experience worse acne symptoms both during their menstrual cycle, and in the days leading up to it. Further studies have also suggested that a person’s diet can also have an influence on hormone levels, with foods that contain dairy, for example, having an effect on hormone balances.

Ways to reduce chin and jawline acne include:

  • Drink as much water as possible to keep skin hydrated
  • Keep a diet low in sugars, dairy products and oily food.