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People can develop forehead acne and pimples when tiny glands below the skin surface become blocked. Other factors that can cause the forehead to break out include hormonal changes, stress, and medication use.
Acne does not pose any serious health risks, but people may think that it appears unattractive, and it can cause discomfort.
In this article, we look at what causes acne and pimples to develop on the forehead, and how they can be treated and prevented.
Acne is a chronic skin condition that can lead to the following lesions:
Acne can develop anywhere on a person’s body, but is particularly frequent on the face, shoulders, back, chest, and arms. A person may notice the appearance of acne when tiny glands just below the surface of the skin become blocked.
These glands, known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum. They can become blocked by too much sebum, dead skin cells, or bacteria. When this happens, the glands may become inflamed, and a pimple can develop.
Certain factors can increase the amount of sebum that is produced by the sebaceous glands. This sebum increases the likelihood of acne and pimples developing. Factors include:
- Hormonal changes. Acne is particularly common in puberty because hormone levels fluctuate significantly during this period.
- Stress. There is a link between stress and outbreaks of acne, but the reasons for this are unclear.
- Medication. Some types of medication can cause acne as a side effect. Examples include certain steroids, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, or lithium.
- Hygiene. Not washing the hair and face regularly can lead to oily deposits on the forehead and blockages that prompt acne.
- Hair products. Some hair products, such as gels, oils, or waxes, are linked to breakouts of acne that is known as pomade acne.
- Skin irritation. Using makeup on the forehead or wearing clothing such as hats, can irritate the forehead and also lead to acne. Frequently touching the forehead can also aggravate the skin and trigger acne.
Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the acne outbreak. Most people can treat their acne with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
A wide variety of gels, soaps, lotions, and creams are available to treat acne. These products usually contain one or more of the following active ingredients:
- benzoyl peroxide
- salicylic acid
People can purchase many of these acne treatments online.
How well these treatments work can vary between individuals, so trial and error may be necessary to determine what is best. People with sensitive skin may benefit from sticking to creams or lotions.
A person’s symptoms may take several weeks to clear up entirely, so it is often necessary to be patient with these treatments. It is also common for some people to have mild side effects, such as skin irritation, in the early stages of treatment.
For people with more severe acne, prescription medication may be necessary. A skin specialist will be able to assess a person’s symptoms and determine the best treatment. These can include oral medications and gels or creams that a person can apply directly to their forehead.
Prescription medications for acne may include:
- combined contraceptives
People with acne should avoid popping their pimples as this increases the risk of scarring and infection.
Home remedies can also be used alongside medication, or for very mild cases of acne on the forehead.
An example of a home remedy is to apply a warm compress to the forehead twice daily, which can help remove excess sebum and improve recovery.
Other home remedies that people with acne on the forehead can try include:
- Aloe vera. Apply pure aloe vera oil directly to the forehead.
- Tea tree oil. Mix a few drops with water and apply to the forehead with a cotton pad.
- Apple cider vinegar. Mix one-quarter diluted apple cider vinegar with three-quarters water and apply to the forehead with a cotton pad.
- Zinc. Zinc can be taken orally, as a supplement to help improve the skin.
People can also combine the following ingredients to make a face mask that they can leave on overnight:
- mix 2–3 teaspoons of aloe vera gel with 3–4 drops of tea tree oil
- apply to the face
- leave on overnight
- wash off in the morning
- repeat nightly, until the acne or pimples improve
Maintaining a good standard of personal hygiene is the best way for someone to prevent acne on the forehead. While some pimples may be inevitable, especially during puberty, washing regularly will help to minimize the risk of a significant outbreak occurring.
Other acne prevention tips include:
- avoiding the wearing of tight-fitting hats or clothing that cover the forehead
- avoiding the use of harsh skin products on the forehead
- using face scrubs to deep cleanse the skin
- avoiding the temptation to touch, scratch, or pick pimples on the forehead
- removing any makeup before going to bed
- washing straight after sport or any activity that causes sweat to build on the forehead
- washing your hands regularly throughout the day
- avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun
It is not unusual for people to have acne on the forehead, especially when someone is going through puberty. Stress, poor hygiene, hair products, makeup, and skin irritation can all make a person’s acne worse.
People with milder acne can often treat their symptoms at home with a variety of OTC gels, soaps, lotions, and creams. Someone with more severe acne should speak to their doctor, who will be able to prescribe stronger and more effective medications if they feel it might be necessary.