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Forehead Acne: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Ah, acne. While a rite of passage for teens and not uncommon for adults by any means, acne can undoubtedly affect one’s confidence and self-image. This is especially true for cases of severe acne, or acne located in a clearly visible place, such as the forehead. In fact, according to the American Academy of dermatology, suffering from acne can increase the risk of developing depression by 63%.

Acne can develop anywhere on the body, but some areas are more susceptible than others. A person might find acne popping up more frequently on the shoulders, back, chest, arms, and face.

Girl's clean and clear forehead

Why? Forehead acne develops when tiny glands just beneath the surface of the skin, called sebaceous glands, become blocked. Sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum that is meant to hydrate and protect the skin.

However, when excess oil mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells, the sebaceous glands can get clogged and inflamed, and acne forms. This is why “clogged pores” is often considered a root cause of acne.

Forehead acne can be stubborn and continue to reappear despite one’s best efforts to combat it. Luckily, this guide provides everything you need to know to get rid of forehead acne for good. In this article, we will cover types of forehead acne, causes, prevention, and treatments that work.

What Are the Different Types of Forehead Acne?

forehead acne irritated

Since acne vulgaris is caused by clogged pores, it can occur anywhere on the body. However, certain types of acne form more frequently on the forehead, such as the following:


Whiteheads and blackheads, also known as comedones, are the result of when oil and dead skin cells clog pores. They are the most common form of forehead acne and are typically quite stubborn.

Pustules and Papules

Pustules, red bumps, and papules, red bumps filled with white or yellow puss, are the most well-known kind of pimples. However, pustules and papules are less common on the forehead than whiteheads and blackheads. They still pop up from time to time.

Nodules and Cysts

Nodules and cysts, painful acne that grows beneath the skin, might signal that unbalanced hormones are causing acne. They are not commonly associated with forehead acne and tend to form on the jawline, chin, and the temples instead. However, it is possible to find them on the forehead too.

What Causes Forehead Acne?

All acne forms the same way, regardless of location. It occurs when excess oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria block the sebaceous glands and cause inflammation. Certain environmental stressors and lifestyle choices can make forehead acne worse, however. Here are some of the causes of forehead acne based on recent research.

Skin Irritation

Tight clothing can trigger acne

Do you have a favorite baseball cap that you wear every day? Turns out, that might be the culprit of your forehead acne. Wearing something that is in constant contact with the forehead can clog pores and cause breakouts. This is especially true for people who have active lifestyles or participate in sports, as helmets and other protective headgear can increase oil production and block pores.


Sweating after a workout without rinsing

Sweat is a natural process and is great for detoxifying the skin and body. However, if sweat is not rinsed off and remains on the skin for too long, it can clog your pores and worsen acne.

Hygiene and Dead Skin Cells

Dead skin cells, as stated previously in this article, can be a large contributor to forehead acne. Dead skin can mix with bacteria on the skin and result in acne-causing inflammation. Even if this combination does not cause a visible breakout, a build-up of dead skin can make pores more visible and worsen skin texture.

Hair Products

Hair products can result in pores that are clogged

We have covered that what you put on your head can cause acne. Well, the same can be said about what you put onto your hair. The oil from your hair (caused by a greasy scalp) can travel to your forehead and cause acne.

In addition, certain products associated with hair styling can cause breakouts. These include gels, oils, waxes, and pomades. These kinds of breakouts are so common, in fact, that acne caused by hair products has its own name, pomade acne. Pomade acne is common partly because many hair products consist of coconut oil or cocoa butter. These ingredients can leave the hair oily, and this oil sometimes makes its way down to the face.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, caused by puberty, menstrual cycle, or stress, can cause the body to produce excess oil. Although oil is meant to protect your skin, too much of it can clog the pores and cause forehead acne. If you tend to have oily skin, this excess oil can ultimately lead to acne breakouts.

How Do I Prevent Forehead Acne?

Avoid Tight Clothing

Make it a habit to clean protective headgear, hair accessories, and hats after every use. In addition, it is important to frequently give your skin room to breathe. Try to take breaks from wearing these garments when you are able or avoid wearing them altogether.

Cut Your Bangs

Cutting your bangs can prevent acne

Bangs can trap sweat, hair products, and oil on the forehead, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. Cutting your bangs can reduce skin irritation on the forehead.

Wash After Sweating

To prevent acne breakouts caused by sweating, wash your face with water or clean your face with a facial wipe after a workout. You could also spritz your face with tea tree oil to help absorb any excess sweat.


Man exfoliating in the mirror to prevent acne

If you get little bumps on the forehead, regular cleansing and exfoliating with a non-irritating chemical exfoliant may go a long way in keeping pores clean and free of clogs.

Exfoliating can help unclog pores and remove any impurities such as dead skin, oil, and bacteria. (Physical exfoliants, like face scrubs, may further exacerbate the situation.)

Avoid Harsh Cosmetics

Use makeup, cleansers, and other products labeled “noncomedogenic.” This means they won’t clog your pores and cause acne. Don’t use products that can irritate the skin, like cleansers that contain alcohol. It is always best to use a gentle cleanser.

Wash Your Hair Often

Washing your hair regularly and avoiding thick, oily hair products can reduce the chances of developing hair-related forehead acne.


It may seem counterproductive to apply moisturizer to already oily skin, but hear us out. If your skin is dehydrated, your body will produce more oil to compensate as a result. So to keep your face’s oil production within a normal range, it is important to keep keep your skin moisturized and hydrated.


Over the counter acne medication

With mild cases of acne, over-the-counter medication is normally enough to get rid of acne breakouts. However, prescription-strength acne treatment may be necessary for moderate to severe cases.

See a Dermatologist

Scheduling regular appointments with a dermatologist can help you combat any skin-related issues you might be having, including forehead breakouts. Getting professional treatment can not only treat breakouts faster, but it can also prevent scarring.

Wash Your Hands

We touch and pick at our faces way more often than we think. For many of us, it is something done habitually. While you can make a conscious effort not to touch your face, frequently washing your hands will also help prevent bacteria from reaching your face (for the times you do touch your face.)

How Do I Treat Forehead Acne?

We have covered the different kinds of forehead acne and the potential causes behind it. But, how do you get rid of acne so that it does not come back? Luckily, there are various ways to treat acne, which we will cover here.

Over-the-counter Medications

Acne treatments will vary depending on how severe the breakout is. In general, over-the-counter medications work well for a majority of acne breakouts.

Over-the-counter medications come in various forms of gels, lotions, creams, and soaps, so you have options to see which works best for you.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in over-the-counter medication. It helps the skin to shed dead cells, which can reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation on the skin’s surface. The result of this is less visible facial acne.

Benzoyl Peroxide Formula

Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic used to remove bacteria from the skin’s surface. It most commonly comes in a gel form, and the typical dosage is 5%. Prescriptions higher than this can dry out the skin.

In cases of moderate to severe acne, you can get a prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide formula from your dermatologist.

Clinical Treatments

If natural remedies and over-the-counter medication are not working, or you are dealing with severe acne, it is best to seek professional care. This is because a prescription medication may be necessary to treat a chronic skin condition and help prevent scarring.


Your dermatologist can prescribe antibiotics that specifically target the bacteria causing your acne.


Retinol is the gold standard for getting clear skin. It is a derivative of Vitamin A and provides a multitude of benefits for the skin. Retinol can help exfoliate the skin and stimulate the production of collagen.

It can be found in a wide range of acne medications, from over-the-counter formulas to prescription acne medication such as Accutane.

Birth Control or Anti-androgen Agent

For women, birth control pills or an anti-androgen medication may be used to target acne caused by imbalanced hormone levels. A dermatologist might also suggest chemical peels to treat and prevent acne scars.

Home Remedies for Forehead Acne

In cases of mild acne, natural remedies such as the following may be an adequate solution.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory qualities and can soothe skin irritation and facial acne.

Green Tea Extract & Tea Tree Oil

Green tea extracts

Green tea extract and tea tree oil can both cleanse and soothe the skin due to their anti-inflammatory benefits.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid can naturally kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin.


Zinc can heal the skin and even skin texture.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar bottle and apples

If you can stand the smell, apple cider vinegar can tighten the skin and be used in an acne face wash or as a spot treatment.

What Other Conditions Cause Forehead Breakouts?

Sometimes what might seem like acne is actually a sign of an underlying skin condition. Here’s what else those forehead bumps may be.


In their early form, boils can easily be mistaken for pimples. They begin as red, sensitive lumps that eventually grow and fill with pus. They are the result of when a hair follicle becomes infected and inflamed.


Cellulitis is a serious bacterial infection and must be treated by antibiotics. The rash is typically very red, swollen, and painful to touch.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction caused by contact with a triggering substance. It typically causes red, irritated skin near the point of contact.


Folliculitis is a condition that occurs when one or more hair follicles are infected. It causes small white heads that can be painful or itchy. The condition is more common with acne-prone skin.


Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes scaly, round patches on the skin that can itch. It is highly contagious and must be treated with antifungal medication.


Rosacea is a common condition that causes small, red, pus-filled bumps on the face. It often looks similar to acne but occurs most commonly among middle-aged women.

Forehead Acne FAQ

Do Overnight Remedies Work?

In short, no. Any treatment that claims to solve issues overnight will most likely overdry your skin. Overnight or instant results often don’t work for skin-related issues because lasting results will take time. There surely could be exceptions, but they are quite rare. Hence, do not rush; allow the treatment/product to do its job. It is best to speak to a doctor for the best treatment and guidance.

Is It Safe to Pop a Pimple on Your Forehead?

Popping a pimple

You never want to pop a pimple on your forehead — or anywhere else on your face or body. Picking at acne introduces dirt from your fingers into your skin, which can lead to an infection. When you pop a pimple, it’ll take longer to heal. Popping can also leave a permanent scar.

Does Drinking Water Actually Help Clear Skin?

Your water intake plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin. It helps get rid of toxins, hydrates your skin, and helps keep pores clean.

When Should I See a Dermatologist for Forehead Acne?

Dermatologist checking forehead

Pimples on the forehead or any other area in your body can be annoying. It can be challenging for someone to be constantly reminded or asked about their pimples.

However, remember that it’s okay to have pimples, and there are ways to prevent them too.

Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Moderate to severe acne may require prescription-strength acne medication to slow oil production and reduce inflammation. If you are experiencing painful or highly inflammatory acne, it is best to consult a dermatologist.


Forehead acne is extremely common, and everyone is bound to deal with it at some point in their life.

However, there are many ways to stop forehead acne. In mild to moderate cases, natural remedies combined with over-the-counter medications should stop acne and keep your skin healthy.

Maintaining good hygiene and having a skincare routine can also help you get healthy skin. It is important to keep skin hydrated and clean. To achieve this, you should wash and moisturize your skin each morning and night, and after exercise.

Following the advice in this guide can help you get to the source of your forehead breakouts and treat them so that it does not come back.

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