Breakouts around the mouth – how to clear them up quickly!
So, I have been seeing lots clients this week suffering from varying levels of breakouts around the mouth, chin and jawline area. This is becoming a bigger problem not just for teens but also young adults ranging from 20 all the way up to 50 years old.
My immediate response to all my clients when I see breakouts around the mouth is always hormones. This is the most classic cause of breakouts and acne around the oral and peri-oral area. So, when it comes to breakouts around this area always look at how regular your periods are, are you taking any medication (recently or in the past few months) that might be causing irregular hormonal activity such as the pill or are you going through puberty, pregnancy or menopause before looking at any other factors.
However, if you have exhausted all the above factors or know that they do not apply to you then is a far more extensive list of factors that cause breakouts in this area:
- Stress (work, emotional, general tiredness)
- Lip balms (Ones that have artificial colours, fragrances. Aim for pure wax lip balms)
- Sulphate rich toothpaste
- Not cleansing or removing makeup at night
- Waxing, threading or shaving in the area
- Acidic or greasy foods or beverages (always wipe mouth after consuming these)
- Poor sleep
- Poor diet or not eating enough (more detail later in the blog)
- For men, look at your razor and shaving products
- For women, the pill or other hormone alternating medications
- Exercise and sweating
- Excess UV (sun) exposure
- PCOS (Polycystic ovaries)
- Perioral Dermatitis – see your doctor or dermatologist for a diagnosis
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Corticosteroids or lithium-based medications
So, what should you be looking out for in your skincare to prevent breakouts around the mouth? Well there are a couple of simple tips and tricks you can use to keep these breakouts at bay
- Remove your makeup every night! Without exception!
- Do NOT pick. It will only spread the bacteria in the affected area.
- Is your makeup comedogenic? These are ingredients that clog your pores such as mineral oil, lanolin, propylene glycol and dimenthieone
- Check your moisturiser – is it the right one for your skin, is it too thick or maybe not hydrating enough? If you suffer from blackheads on your chin then this is a sign of dehydration so try a hydrating booster – I recommend Dermalogica Hydrating Booster
- Cleansing, cleansing, cleansing! Make sure again that you cleanse your skin morning and night and keep your cleansing cloth, sponge or flannel really clean to avoid the build of up of bacteria
- Avoid petroleum-based products and products with SLS in
- Look for products with benzoyl peroxide in to help clear up acne
- Retinol – although it does have a good success rate, always air on the side of caution. Retinol is a very strong ingredient and can be too harsh on the skin. (See Video Blog)
So how does what you eat link to the breakout on your chin? Although the two may seem completely unconnected, I always say to all my clients that your skin is a mirror of what is going on inside the rest of your body. Second to the liver your skin the next best organ for detoxification and unfortunately that can sometimes express itself in breakouts.
You should be eating…
- Foods that promote good gut health
- Hormone-regulating foods e.g. foods which higher levels of oestrogen in the body
- Lots of highly coloured fruit and vegetables
- Anti-oxidant rich foods e.g. berries, beetroot and dark chocolate
You shouldn’t be eating….
- Greasy, fatty foods
- Dairy – It also causes androgen levels to rise in the bloodstream which we want to avoid in acne.
- Highly sugary foods and drinks
- Very low carb diets
Hormones, Medications and Health Conditions
Some of the various medical conditions that could be causing perioral acne
- PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovaries)
- HA (Hypothalamic Amenorrhea)
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Irregular periods
- Perioral dermatitis
Health conditions that may be causing the acne include
- Taking corticosteroids and lithium-based medication
- High-stress levels
- Poor sleep
- History of cold sores in the area
Medication that you could be taking for perioral acne and how it works
So, when it comes to acne there are lots of various medications including Accutane, Roaccutane, Isotretinoin, anti-biotics among others. But for perioral acne specifically there are only two main options:
Spironolactone or ‘Spiro’ is usually the drug of choice as Flutamide has various side effects. ‘Spiro’ works by decreasing testosterone activity and whilst it is effective, it is not a long-term solution. It, like Flutamide, has various side effects including low blood pressure and it is also a diuretic. Also ‘Spiro’ always triggers a first initial breakout that could last for a couple of days, weeks or months depending on how severe the acne is.
How estrogen is good and testosterone is bad
So, this is the science part of the blog! Acne is caused by three main factors:
- Excess skin cells
- Excess oil production
- Bacteria (p. acnes)
If you can control the excess skin cells (with exfoliation) and the excess oil (with clearing masks and clay-based products) then the bacteria will take care of itself. Making acne one of the easiest things to clear up in the professional treatment room.
However, if you delve deeper into the causes of acne then you can start to look at why we start to get excess oil production and skin cells in the first place. Often, we can work it back to puberty in teenagers, stress in adults or bad dietary choices. But the actual root cause of the breakouts often links back to hormones
Causes of increased oil production in the skin include:
- Increased production of androgens (male sex hormone)
- Increased production of testosterone
- Increased production of DHEA-S (stress hormone that comes the adrenal gland)
So, with all these excess male sex hormones floating around in the bloodstream and sending your oil glands crazy, estrogen comes to the rescue! Estrogen helps promote clear skin, normalise testosterone in the bloodstream and balances and soothes the skin. So, the higher your levels of estrogen, the better your skin.