Chin Acne: Why It Happens and How to Get Rid of It

Kristin Hall, FNP
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 8/12/2020

No one wants acne, and certainly no one wants acne on their face. 

When you develop large lesions right in front of everyone, it can be embarrassing and just plain annoying. You may feel like people meet your pimples before they meet you. 

Acne is an age old problem, and this means there are numerous longstanding solutions. You don’t have to continue suffering with acne breakouts — whether the flare-ups happen on your chin, covering your entire face, on your back or anywhere else. 

What You Should Know About Chin Acne

  • Like acne elsewhere on your body, chin acne is caused by clogged pores, trapped sebum, inflammation and bacteria. 
  • Acne on your chin can feature small lesions like whiteheads and blackheads, or any number of inflammatory blemishes, including deep and painful nodules or cysts. 
  • Chin acne can develop with the use of certain athletic equipment. When this happens, it’s known as acne mechanica. 
  • Acne treatment may include a combination of over-the-counter solutions and prescription medications. 

About Acne 

Sure, you know what acne is. It’s the pimples on your face and body you’d love nothing more than to get rid of. 

But do you really know what acne is? 

Acne is a result of four different contributing factors: dead skin cells clogging hair follicles, excess oil (sebum) production, bacteria and inflammation

When these four things get together, the result is one (or many) lesion types. 

Yes, there are different kinds of pimples. And you likely knew there were some differences in the spots you’ve seen on your face over the years, but maybe weren’t aware of what they were called or the differences between them. 

Pimples or acne lesions generally fall into these categories: 

  • Closed comedones, or whiteheads 
  • Open comedones, or blackheads
  • Papules
  • Pustules
  • Nodules
  • Cysts

Comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) are considered noninflammatory lesions whereas papules, pustules and nodules are inflammatory acne.

Several other things can play a role in the development of acne, including hormones (particularly during puberty), certain medications, oils present in some skin care products and possibly diet.

What Causes Acne on Your Chin 

Acne can appear just about anywhere on your body, but is most common where you have the most oil or sebaceous glands. This includes your face, chest, back, shoulders and neck. 

On your face, the area including your forehead, nose and chin — known as the “T-zone” — has an abundance of these glands. 

So, chin acne isn’t all that unusual. As with acne elsewhere, it’s caused by clogged hair follicles, oil production, bacteria and inflammation.

That said, limited research has been done on chin acne specifically. 

There is conflicting evidence on just how big of a role oily skin plays in the development of chin acne. 

A study published in 2019 indicated that while sebum production played a role in lesion development overall, increased sebum production in the T-zone specifically was not associated with increased lesion numbers. 

However, a 2018 study published online found sebum secretion to be correlated with both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions in the T-zone.

We do know some athletes may be at a greater risk of developing chin acne — specifically acne mechanica. Acne mechanica is caused by athletic equipment rubbing against the skin.

So, in the case of acne on the chin, it could be caused by the chin strap on a helmet or a face guard, putting football players and wrestlers at risk. 

Acne mechanica results in small, rough bumps that may not always be visible. But these little bumps can develop into deep acne cysts.

Chin Acne Treatment 

In the case of acne mechanica, keeping your sports equipment clean and dry can help. But in general, the proper treatment for your acne depends on how severe it is. 

If acne on your chin is your primary concern, you may have mild acne

Mild acne is typically limited to the face and generally features open and closed comedones, and limited inflammatory pimples. 

The treatment best suited to mild to moderate acne may be over-the-counter face washes featuring salicylic acid, a topical solution with benzoyl peroxide and/or a topical retinoid like tretinoin.

However, if your acne is moderate to severe and includes inflammatory pimples like pustules, papules and nodules (and may be spread from your face to other places on your body), it may warrant more intensive treatment. 

Your healthcare provider or dermatologist may prescribe an oral antibiotic such as a tetracycline like doxycycline, and/or a prescription retinoid.

If you’ve tried over-the-counter solutions for the acne on your chin and are still struggling to control it, it may be worth a medical discussion. 

A healthcare professional can help you determine a course of treatment likely to be effective, and to end the collection of cleansers, creams and acne treatments likely filling your bathroom.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.