Why Do Acne Appear in the Same Place?

Pimples are unfair. We didn’t ask for them, we definitely don’t deserve to be adults, and it’s especially annoying when the giant pimple finally disappears and comes back a few days later.

Today’s burning question is simple. The puddlery reader asks:

Why do I get acne in the same places?

It turns out that there could be several different reasons why a certain part of your face may be more prone to acne than others. Cystic acne is notorious for hiding under the skin and causing acne that stops appearing over and over again. “It often develops after the pores become clogged with sebum and skin cells, become inflamed and dilated,” says Dr. Katie Belezney , a dermatologist based in Vancouver. “That same acne spot can grow or shrink depending on various factors, including the amount of oil your skin produces.”

But you don’t need a hidden cyst to hide acne. Boston-based dermatologist Dr. Susan Huang notes that acne hot spots naturally occur on the areas of skin that produce the most fat, including, you guessed it, the face, chest, and back. Women often develop pimples along the chin and jawline because the skin there is more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations that cause it to secrete excess oil.

You should also think about the things you can do to rub dirt and oil into your skin. “For example, your bike helmet can clog the pores of your forehead and thus [lead] to breakouts in that area,” Dr. Huang tells us.

Both dermis recommend salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide products, which you can find in huge quantities at any pharmacy. But if you have severe acne or deep cysts, you may need a doctor’s help. ( Here’s a good rundown of what to expect when you seek treatment for severe acne.)

That’s all for today, but you can ask me any weird health questions you have at elizabeth.skwarecki@lifehacker.com or leave them anonymously at bethskw.sarahah.com .


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