Pimples occur when pores in the skin become clogged with oil, dirt, or bacteria. Pimples can appear anywhere on the body. However, most pimples develop in areas where there is excess oil, such as the chin, nose, and forehead.
In this article, we discuss the causes, treatment options, and tips for preventing pimples on the eyebrows.
Pimples develop on or between the eyebrows for several reasons, such as excess oil production, ingrown hairs, and even certain cosmetic products.
Excess oil production
Every pore in the skin contains a hair follicle and an oil-producing sebaceous gland. The hair follicle carries sebum to the skin’s surface. Sebum is an oily substance that the sebaceous glands produce.
Sebum promotes skin health by carrying dead skin cells, dirt, and other waste out of the pores. It also protects the skin and hair from water loss and may help regulate immune responses against certain bacteria.
However, some parts of the skin, including the forehead, nose, and chin, produce more sebum than others.
Excess sebum can trap dead skin cells and debris inside the pore. Clogged pores encourage the growth of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), a bacterium associated with acne. P. acnes reproduces rapidly in pores that contain excess sebum and dead skin cells.
An ingrown hair occurs when a hair strand gets stuck under the skin. A trapped hair curls up, growing backward or sideways into the skin.
A person may develop an ingrown hair if they regularly shave, pluck, tweeze, or wax their eyebrows.
An ingrown hair can trap dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria inside the hair follicle. This may cause mild skin irritation or an infection, which can develop into a cyst.
Symptoms to look for include:
- itching or tenderness of the skin
- a small red or pink bump that grows bigger
- a red, pus-filled bump with a hair inside it
Many styling products and cosmetics contain ingredients that can irritate or clog pores.
Bacteria and other debris may collect on the surface of makeup brushes and sponges. People who apply makeup regularly and develop persistent outbreaks should consider sterilizing or replacing their makeup applicators, as well the makeup.
Oil from the hair, as well as styling products, may transfer into the pores along the forehead and brow line.
People can develop pimples on their eyebrows if they use dirty makeup brushes or oil-based cosmetics that clog the pores.
Eyebrow pimples may also be a sign of:
The presence of multiple inflamed pimples along the brow line and forehead may be a sign of acne.
Acne is an inflammatory skin disorder that causes excess sebum production in the hair follicles. In turn, these develop into pus-filled skin lesions.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne is the most widespread skin condition, affecting an estimated 85% of people aged 12–24 and up 15% of adult women in the United States.
The authors of one 2015 observational study involving 374 adult women with acne found that 89.8% had breakouts on multiple areas of the face, including the forehead, cheeks, and chin.
According to ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, pimples on the brow line indicate liver stress due to poor dietary habits or emotional stress. The liver is the second largest organ, weighing in at around 3 pounds.
While the liver performs several essential functions, it mainly acts as a filtration system. The liver removes toxins, dead cell debris, and other waste products from the blood.
Alcohol use, poor diet, and a lack of physical exercise can cause harmful inflammation in the liver.
A compromised liver may leave more toxic material in the blood, which can travel to the skin and other parts of the body.
People can treat pimples on the eyebrows and other blemishes quickly with medication and home remedies.
People can find over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments and anti-acne cleansers at their local pharmacies.
Prescription-strength therapies are available for those with severe or persistent acne that does not respond to milder medications.
OTC and prescription acne medications can help treat and prevent pimples by:
- unclogging the pores
- clearing dead skin cells and dirt from the skin
- reducing bacteria on the skin
- controlling oil production
- regulating hormones
OTC spot treatments work well for treating mild breakouts that involve one pimple or multiple small blemishes.
Popular spot treatments often contain drying ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Mild to severe acne may require prescription topical or oral medications. A dermatologist can prescribe more advanced treatments and tailor them to address a person’s skin type and symptoms.
People should avoid popping or picking at active pimples. The bacteria and dirt present on the hands and under the fingernails can transfer into the pores on the face.
Popping a pimple increases the risk of spreading acne-causing bacteria to other parts of the face. Squeezing a pimple may force it to rupture under the skin and spread into nearby pores.
People who prefer home remedies over medications may want to consider treating their pimples with natural products that possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These can include:
- tea tree oil
- aloe vera
- green tea
Most people develop an occasional pimple or two from time to time. The following tips from the AAD may help reduce acne and prevent new breakouts:
- wash the face with a gentle cleanser 1–2 times per day
- use the fingertips to gently massage cleansers, moisturizers, and treatments into the skin
- rinse the face with lukewarm water
- regularly cleanse the hair and body
- avoid touching the face
Avoid the following habits that can make acne worse:
- cleansing and exfoliating too often
- using cleansers that contain abrasive or drying ingredients, such as astringents and exfoliants
- applying lotions, oils, and cosmetics that contain artificial fragrances
- scrubbing the skin with washcloths, sponges, or other harsh fabrics
Consider these tips for preventing ingrown eyebrow hairs:
- exfoliate before shaving, waxing, or tweezing the eyebrows
- disinfect razors and tweezers between uses
- cleanse and moisturize the face after grooming the brows
Sticking to a consistent skincare routine that includes cleansing, exfoliating, and applying acne treatments can help keep the skin hydrated and reduce excess oil production.
Pimples are not the only type of bump that can develop on the eyebrow.
Most pimples are small, white, black, or flesh-colored bumps that sit just below the surface of the skin. An inflamed pimple may appear swollen and red.
Other types of skin lumps include:
Cysts are closed pockets of tissue that contain fluid, air, or pus. Cysts develop from clogged oil glands.
If a cyst contains fluid and forms near the surface of the skin, it may feel like a blister. Hard cysts form in deeper layers of skin and contain debris and skin cells.
Dermatofibroma is a benign, or non-cancerous, lump that forms under the skin.
Most dermatofibromas do not cause significant skin changes. They are relatively small, measuring less than 1 centimeter in diameter, and range in color from a pinkish-tan to reddish-brown.
Pimples on the eyebrow develop when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dirt, oil, and bacteria.
This usually occurs when people use dirty makeup brushes or beauty products that contain chemicals that irritate or clog their pores.
People can treat and prevent pimples on the eyebrows by:
- regularly cleaning their makeup applicators
- replacing skin and hair products that contain irritating ingredients
- cleansing their face twice a day and after sweating
- avoiding touching their face
- exfoliating before waxing, shaving, or tweezing their eyebrows
- eating a balanced diet