What are forehead pimples?

Pimples, also known as acne, are common for most people. The red, painful bumps can crop up at any time and can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Pimples happen when pores in your skin get blocked and inflamed. They can appear anywhere on your body, but some areas are extra acne-prone. 

Your forehead is one spot where you might notice pimples cropping up frequently.  Learn more about why forehead pimples are so common, what to do about them, and how to prevent future breakouts.  

Symptoms of forehead pimples

When the pores on your forehead get clogged with dead skin cells, oils, and bacteria, they can get irritated. The result is a red, inflamed spot called a pimple

Pimples are easy to notice and identify. They are usually a raised bump that might be red and tender to the touch. They can occur one at a time or in clusters. In severe cases, pimples can lead to permanent scars on your face.

Types of pimples

Many different types of pimples may appear on your forehead. Recognizing them makes a difference in how you get them to clear up. 

Here are some types of pimples you may experience:

  1. Whiteheads and blackheads: These are the easiest pimples to treat because they are closest to the skin's surface. These small bumps are either flesh-colored or have a dark spot on top. If the irritated pore closes over after being blocked, it will become a flesh-colored or whitish bump. This is called a whitehead. Blackheads are red bumps with a dark spot on top. This happens when the pore stays open and the material blocking it is exposed to the air. The oxidation causes it to turn a dark color.
  2. Papules and Pustules: If the irritation to the pore is severe, the pore walls start to break down under the surface of the skin. The result is a bigger, usually more painful pimple. Papules are raised bumps with no head that might feel rough or sandpapery. Pustules are like papules, but they are filled with a white or yellowish material, similar to a blister. They are harder to treat and may require prescription medication.
  3. Nodules and Cysts: When pimples are deep below the surface of the skin, they look like red bumps that are larger than typical blemishes. Nodules are hard to the touch. Cysts feel softer because they are filled with fluid. If left untreated, they can lead to scarring. These usually require a doctor’s care. 

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Causes of forehead pimples

Forehead pimples show up because something is blocking the pores on your skin. Sometimes, it's as simple as your own skin oils causing the problem. Your forehead tends to be an area where the skin gets naturally oily.

The oil from your hair can be a culprit as well. You might see pimples around your hairline. If you have bangs that cover your forehead, the skin underneath can become acne-prone. Your natural hair oils or residue from styling products can clog pores.

You may also be using skincare products that block your pores. Heavy creams or oil-based products are a common cause of acne on your face.

When to see the doctor for forehead pimples

Most pimples respond to over-the-counter treatments, and you can clear them up at home. However, for some people, acne is a persistent problem that won't go away without a prescription.

Clearing up nodules or cysts, in particular, is hard. If you have that type of acne, see a dermatologist to discuss treatment options. A dermatologist can help with less severe acne as well. Check with your doctor if you have chronic breakouts, breakouts that don't clear up after a few weeks, or breakouts that result in dark spots or scars.

Diagnosis for forehead pimples

Your doctor will look at your skin to see what sort of pimples you have. They probably won't need to do any invasive testing. However, your doctor may collect skin swabs to check for bacterial or fungal infections.

Treatments for forehead pimples

Depending on the type of pimples you have, your doctor will choose a treatment plan. 
For whiteheads and blackheads, your doctor may prescribe topical treatments. They may offer a retinoid cream and possibly combine it with benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, or salicylic acid. Your doctor may add an antibiotic cream to the regimen if they think bacteria is a problem.

Nodules and cysts might require a prescription acne medication such as isotretinoin or a hormone treatment like birth control pills.

Laser or light treatments are also effective, so your doctor may offer that option as well.

Once you have cleared up your forehead pimples, take care to use acne-preventing skincare products. Keep your skin clean, avoid touching your face, and stick to products without oils or other ingredients that might clog pores.

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Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 3/15/2021
References
American Academy of Dermatology: “Acne: Diagnosis and Treatment.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Are Your Haircare Products Causing Breakouts?”

American Academy of Dermatology: “How to Treat Different Types of Acne.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Isotretinoin: Overview.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Lasers and Lights: How Well Do They Treat Acne?”

American Academy of Dermatology: “What Kids Should Know About Kinds of Pimples.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Acne: Who Gets and Causes.”