Whether you call them acne, pimples, or zits, those telltale red- or white-topped bumps can pop up just about anywhere on your body. One of the most common places to see breakouts is on your face, particularly along the oily T-zone that starts at your forehead and extends down your nose to your chin.
Unlike acne elsewhere on your face, the pimples that pop up along your chin or jawline tend to be solid bumps, not the typical pus-filled pimples. Treating them correctly, and avoiding picking at them, can prevent a temporary blemish from turning into a permanent scar.
Under your skin are tiny oil glands, called sebaceous glands, that produce the oil that lubricates and protects your skin. Oil gets to the surface of your skin through small holes called pores.
When your pores get clogged with dirt, excess oil, and dead skin cells, bacteria can grow inside them, which creates a swollen bump called a pimple. Pimples can be red and solid, or have a collection of white pus at the top. Pimples can form anywhere on your face, including along your jawline.
A number of factors increase oil production and lead to acne. These include:
- medicines you take, such as contraceptives, antidepressants, B vitamins, and corticosteroids
Women are more likely than men to get acne along their jawline or chin. These breakouts are usually due to an increase in male hormones that stimulate the oil glands. Some women notice more acne around the time of their period as their hormone levels shift. Acne can also be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which women have higher-than-normal levels of male hormones and small growths called cysts in their ovaries.
In men, shaving can sometimes cause breakouts. Shaving with a dirty razor lets bacteria into the skin, and certain shaving creams and oils can clog pores. Sometimes shaving can irritate sensitive skin, leading to pimples.
Irritation from clothing or cosmetics can also cause jawline acne, especially if your skin is sensitive. All of these may trigger a breakout:
- using a new face wash or makeup
- wearing a helmet with a chin strap or a tight-collared shirt
- touching your chin often
To get rid of pimples on your jaw, try the same treatments you’d use to clear acne on other parts of your face.
Start by washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil from your skin. If that doesn’t work, try an over-the-counter acne product containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
You can also try a natural acne remedy, such as:
For more severe acne, or if over-the-counter acne remedies don’t work, see a dermatologist. You may need a prescription-strength acne treatment, such as:
- antibiotic gels, creams, lotions, or pills
- benzoyl peroxide
- cream or oral retinoids
Your doctor also has nondrug treatments to clear up acne, such as lasers and chemical peels. Larger pimples may need to be drained.
Women should see a gynecologist if breakouts happen right around their period. Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Yasmin, Alesse, and other birth control pills can help with chin breakouts linked to your menstrual cycle or PCOS.
These other conditions can also cause bumps to form on your jaw:
- boils: red, painful lumps that grow out of infected hair follicles
- cellulitis: a skin infection that forms around a cut or scrape
- contact dermatitis: a skin reaction to products you use or touch, such as laundry detergent or clothing
- folliculitis: an infection of the hair follicle
- rosacea: a condition that causes redness and pimples on the face
Usually pimples along the jawline will go away on their own within a few days. More stubborn acne can take several weeks to clear. It should improve with treatments from your doctor.
You might have to keep using the treatment even after your acne clears up. Staying on your medicine will stop future breakouts and prevent scarring.
Here are a few ways to prevent acne on your chin and other parts of your face:
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser twice a day. Rinse with warm water and gently pat dry. Don’t scrub. Rubbing can make acne worse.
- Keep your hands away from your skin. Every time you touch your face, you introduce bacteria that can get into your pores. If you do have to touch your chin, wash your hands first.
- Avoid helmets with tight chinstraps and clothing that touches your skin. If you do have to wear a helmet, wash your face afterward.
- Be careful when you shave. Try out different razors, such as electric and safety razors, to see which one is gentler on your skin. When you do use a safety razor, apply a gentle shave lotion or soap and water first to prevent friction.
- Use makeup, cleansers, and other products labeled “noncomedogenic.” This means they won’t cause acne.
- Don’t use products that can irritate the skin. Irritating products contain ingredients like alcohol. They may be labeled as astringents or exfoliants.
- Don’t pop a pimple, no matter where it’s located. Picking or popping a zit introduces dirt from your fingers into your skin, which could lead to an infection. When you pop a pimple, it will take longer to heal. Popping can also leave a permanent scar.