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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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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.
How do you make pimples go away fast?
A pimple is a small swelling or bump on the skin that contains oil, dirt, and bacteria.
Pimples on the face, also known as acne, are a common skin problem. It affects most teenagers and some adults. Pimples occur due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for the production of an oily substance called sebum that protects the skin. Although pimples are often a persistent problem, they can be treated.
Symptoms of pimples
There are different ways in which pimples can present. They include:
- Whiteheads: These are small tissues that appear when dead skin, oil, and bacteria get trapped within your pores.
- Blackheads: These are pimples that are easily spotted on the surface of your skin. They are either black or dark brown. Such pimples can easily be mistaken for dirt and should not be rubbed vigorously to avoid skin irritation and other problems.
- Papules: These types of pimples are usually small, solid, and rounded bumps. They rise from the skin and are often pink in color.
- Pustules: These types of pimples are clearly visible on the surface of the skin and are usually full of pus. The base of this pimple is red, while the pus can clearly be seen at the top.
- Nodules: Nodules have a similar structure to papules, but this type of pimple is much larger and a bit more painful.
- Cysts: This type of pimple occurs below the first few layers of skin. They are usually filled with pus and are extremely painful. Acne scarring is often caused by cysts.
Causes of pimples
Pimples usually occur when pores are blocked with sebum and dead skin When sebum and dead skin cells accumulate and block a pore in the skin, undesired bacteria may grow. An example is Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes which is a slow-growing bacteria linked to the development of acne.
The existence of these bacteria on our skin is harmless. However, if the conditions of its environment are right, it can easily reproduce more rapidly and become a problem. Although pimples are related to bacterial infection, they cannot be spread from one person to the other.
Who can get pimples?
If a close blood relative had a history of a certain type of acne, you are more likely to develop similar pimples.
Hormones are another cause of pimples in teenagers. During puberty, hormones called androgens increase and fluctuate. These hormones are required for different processes like growth, reproduction, and well-being and often increase the size of the skin’s oil glands. These glands start making more oil, leading to clogged pores.
Diagnosis for pimples
Pimples can be diagnosed physically. A skin doctor, called a dermatologist, will examine your face, chest, and back for different types of acne.
Treatments for pimples
Pimples can be treated using the following methods:
Your doctor may prescribe the following medication:
- Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat pimples that are rooted deep in the pore. This includes nodules and cysts. Antibiotics help in killing bacteria, which reduces inflammation and allows pores to clear. However, the bacteria involved in acne may develop a resistance to antibiotics and blemishes may reappear.
- Birth control pills: Oestrogen found in birth control pills has been shown to reduce the effect of hormones linked to acne. If your skin gets red and inflamed with blemishes regularly appearing along your chin or jawline, hormones may be responsible. If your doctor prescribes birth control pills, they must be taken daily and can result in skin improvement within three to four months.
- Topical products containing Benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, or salicylic acid. Creams containing these ingredients are available over-the-counter or by prescription and should not always be used in combination.
You can keep your skin from clogging using the following home-based care remedies:
- Clean your skin gently with a mild, non-drying soap twice per day and after exercising. Avoid roughly scrubbing your skin.
- Avoid oil-based cosmetics.
- Comb your hair backward to keep it out of your face.
- Avoid using rubbing alcohol or toners that are very drying to the skin.
- Shampoo your hair daily if it tends to be oily.
Complications and side effects of pimples
Some of the treatments used for pimples may have some side effects or cause complications. Usually, the treated area may experience mild dryness. This is a common side effect of topical antibiotics.
Skin irritation and sensitivity from topical treatments is rarely severe, but you should always consult with your dermatologist when experiencing side effects. Your doctor may recommend that you stop using the product. Solutions and gels are more likely to cause irritation than lotions.
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American Academy of Dermatology: “Are Your Haircare Products Causing Breakouts?”
American Academy of Dermatology: “How to Treat Different Types of Acne.”
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American Academy of Dermatology: “What Kids Should Know About Kinds of Pimples.”
American Academy of Dermatology: “Acne: Who Gets and Causes.”
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Acne: Who Gets It and Causes."
Apollo Clinic: "Pimples."
Dermatology Online Journal: "Acne in Adolescents: Quality of Life, Self-Esteem, Mood and Psychological Disorders."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Acne: What you need to know."
NYU Langone Health: "Oral Medications for Acne."
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