Whiteheads around mouth are skin disease conditions cause by excess sebum production, bacteria, and accumulation of dead skin cells which makes the skin break out in bumps, lesions, and inflammation

In this article, we are going to breakdown the causes, preventions, treatments, and mechanisms of acne formation around the mouth.

Acne is a skin disease condition that occurs when pores get clogged by oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. Acne around the mouth would possibly develop from repeated pressure on the skin close to the mouth, for instance, frequent shaving, and daily phone calls.

    Mechanism Of Acne Formation

    Source picture showing the formation of acne

    There are numerous pores on the skin, providing ways for the passage of air in and out of the skin. When dead skin cells are not properly shed from the body, they sometimes combine with sebum (an oily substance secreted by sebaceous gland) to form a solid structure, which blocks the skin pores.

    This prevents movement of air in and out of the skin. The spaces formed in the pilosebaceous unit by the blockage of skin pores, then provide a nice breeding home for the growth of acne-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.

    This condition appears on the skin, especially around the mouth as a nipple-like lesion with inflammation.

    What Causes Small Pimples Around Mouth?

    Acne around the mouth can be caused by a variety of factors, which can trigger irritation and alter the normal sebum production, the sebum fatty content, and the nature of hormones microenvironment (source).

    Common factors responsible for causing small pimples around mouth are but not limited to cosmetics (lip balms, toothpaste, toothbrush, comedogenic moisturizers and so on), changes in hormones levels ( for instance during puberty, menopause, pregnancy and after pregnancy), insufficient diets, frequent pressure around the mouth ( such as putting helmet trap, and frequent shaving).

    The causes of acne are discussed below:

    Poor Lifestyle

    Lack of good personal hygiene can provide a welcoming space for dirt and acne-causing bacteria. Failure to wash your cloth and bedsheets at the right time was found to provide a nice breeding home for bacteria and germs. And these microorganisms block skin pores and suppress the proper supply of oxygen to the skin cells, which could lead to skin inflammation and breakouts.

    Poor Diets

    Lack of sufficient diets or malnutrition is also a factor, which greatly contributes to the formation of acne.


    Stress causes acne by increasing the production of sebum, which combines with dead skin cells to clog skin pores.

    Hormones Imbalance

    Changes in the level of hormones during puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and premenstrual period were found to cause acne on the jawline, lips, nose, and mouth.

    Underlying medical conditions

    Some diseases also increase the risk of acne formation. Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer were found to lower skin immunity against outside intruders such as radiation, infections, and skin aging. And these increase the likelihood of acne formation.


    Acne may also be as a result of infections that are caused by bacteria and fungi such as acne vulgaris.


    You may experience breakouts if you are allergic to some substances in cosmetic products and you use those products.

    Allergens include foods, clothes, cosmetics, and any other substances which can cause inflammation, burning sensation, and redness to your skin.

    Can Kissing Cause Acne Around The Mouth

    Breaking out from kissing is less common. However, acne may form on your lips, mouth, and jawline if your partner is using cosmetic products that are allergic to your skin.

    These products include soaps, creams, shaving lotions, and Cologne. So, when you come in contact with your partner during kissing, this causes a contact dermatitis, which is a form of allergic response characterized by skin lesions and bumps.

    Foods That Cause Acne Around The Mouth

    Foods generally don't cause acne directly and there is not sufficient medical literature report to back this up. However, few studies showed that foods loaded with a high glycemic index are more likely to cause acne.

    According to one study made on Australian men, the participants who took diet with low glycemic load were found to significantly reduce their overall acne.

    Moreover, sugary foods and sweetened beverages increase the likelihood of type II diabetes, which could also lead to body acne.

    One study with 91,249 women participants showed that participants who increased their sugar intake by 1 sugar-sweetened beverages a day saw an 83% increased risk of developing type II diabetes compared to participants who took only 1 sugar-sweetened beverages a month.

    Below are some common foods with the potential to cause acne:

    • Chocolate
    • Groundnut
    • Refined foods
    • Sweetened beverages
    • Pasta
    • White bread
    • Cookies

    Foods That Don't Cause Acne

    • Carrots
    • Spinach
    • Avocado
    • Lemon
    • Grapefruits
    • Apple
    • Banana
    • Pineapples
    • Apricot
    • Eggs
    • Fish

    Why Is Hormonal Acne Around Mouth?

    Hormonal acne around mouth results from the changes in the levels of testosterone, progesterone and estrogen hormones during menopause, puberty, pregnancy and after pregnancy. Then, this increase and decrease in the levels of hormones causes overproduction of sebum, which in turn leads to congestion and blockage of skin pores around mouth, jawlines, and chin. This blockage near the pilosebaceous unit provides a good breeding place for acne-causing bacteria.

    Areas On The Face That Can Be Affected By Acne Around The Mouth

    The most common places seen to be affected by the whiteheads around mouth are the forehead, jawlines, nose, and chin. These areas are heavily loaded with oil-producing glands, also known as sebum. Another area that can be prone to breakouts is the area around the lips.

    Treatment Of Pimples Around The Mouth

    Always refer your problem to your medical doctor for proper medical advice. This is because there are forms of skin disease conditions around the mouth that look like acne. And these diseases can only be properly diagnosed through face to face contact with a dermatologist.

    Home treatments include topical steroids,  antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory creams. In severe cases, oral treatments may be administered.

    How To Get Rid Of  Acne Around Mouth: Home Remedies

    Increase your vegetables and fruits intake
    Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, and soluble fibers. Consider adding them to your food menu to make less room for acne-causing foods and get rid of your acne.

    Become hydrated always

    Consider increasing your water intake and cut down on surgery foods to help flush out toxins.

    This also helps balance blood sugar levels, which could also lead to proper blood flow, oxygen supply, and less clogged pores on the skin.

    Cut down on saturated oil and oily makeups

    Saturated oil such as coconut oil and oily makeups may worsen your acne.
    If you have acne or oily skin, provide less space for coconut oil and comedogenic makeups in your beauty care menu.

    Consider adding or using makeups with olive oil and 2% salicylic acid content such as Neutrogena products.

    Preventions Of Acne Around Mouth 

    Breakouts on the face can be prevented by properly observing the followings:

    • It is advisable to consult your doctor before you start to use any cosmetic products

    • If you have oily skin, do not use cosmetic products that contain a high amount of saturated fatty acids such as coconut oil

    • Use Noncomedogenic cosmetics: these are cosmetic products that do not clog skin

    • Observe your personal hygiene by washing your body at least two times a day

    • Make sure that you cleanse all cosmetics such as lip balm before going to bed

    • Ensure to apply a medicated powder after shaving, and avoid applying too much pressure, and use of multi razor blade while shaving

    • Avoid shaving your face frequently as this can irritate the skin around your face.

    • Avoid using synthetic perfumes such as fragrances, especially near the mouth

    • Always cleanse your face and mouth with a good disinfectant after playing musical instruments

    • Always tight a helmet trap to your jawlines and chin loosely

    • Avoid bringing your cell phones closer to your chin.


    I have seen some online articles and videos recommending exfoliation. Never try to do that, as this can irritate your skin, and thus leaving your skin with a serious condition that can be more than the present one.

    Recommended reading: pimple in the nose causes and treatments


    I hope this guide gives you excellent help in understanding the causes, preventions, and treatments of whiteheads around mouth.

    We would love listening to your views about the preventions, causes, and treatments of acne around the mouth. So do write to us in the comment section below.

    Written by Idris Ya'u


    American Academy of Dermatology. “CAN THE RIGHT DIET GET RID OF ACNE?.” News release issued in February 2013.

    Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, et al. “High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005;52(2):207-14.

    American Academy Of Dermatology "HOW TO TREAT DIFFERENT TYPES OF ACNE"
    Article published by American Academy Of Dermatology

     , "The efficacy and safety of non‐pharmacological therapies for the treatment of acne vulgaris: A systematic review and best‐evidence synthesis".Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology32, 7(1195-1203)(2018).

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