Acne around your mouth? Here’s what to do.

How to treat the pimples on and around your lips.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Mar 16, 2020 · 3 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Meet my recurring waking nightmare: the pimple on the corner of my mouth. Just when I thought I’d finally gotten rid of pimples around my lips for good, it once again reared its ugly (white)head — even once the breakouts on the rest of my face were gone! That’s when I learned that, sometimes, preventing small pimples around the mouth takes a little extra effort. Here’s what I learned.

Why am I breaking out around my mouth?

The causes of pimples around the mouth aren’t so different from the causes of pimples on the rest of your face — factors like hormones and diet may play a role. That said, if you’ve got pimples around your lips — and nowhere else — it might be because of one of these sneaky culprits:

  • Red 30 (or red 30 lake) is a synthetic pigment that’s often used to get a rosy pink color, especially in lip products. Unfortunately, it may be pore-clogging for some. And red 30 isn’t the only ingredient that can cause breakouts! Check your lip products using the cosDNA test to see if they might be breaking you out.

  • Toothpaste. Some kinds of toothpaste contain sodium laureth sulfate to help make them nice and foamy when you brush — unfortunately, this ingredient can clog pores, which may lead to breakouts. Some options without sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate include toothpastes made by Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, Sensodyne, and Jason Natural Cosmetics, among others.

  • Too much phone. If you talk on the phone a lot, a dirty touch screen might be contributing to breakouts! Pressing your face to your phone can result in sweat and friction, which — together — can make breakouts worse. And this goes for anything that touches your face on a regular basis, from your trombone mouthpiece to your roller derby helmet strap.

How to treat acne around your mouth

Treating the pimples around your mouth is similar to how you’d treat acne on the rest of your face, but the skin on and around your lips can be more sensitive.

Here are 6 ways to help treat acne around the mouth:

1. Apply petroleum jelly in a thin layer on and around your lips before using your Curology medication on this area. This will help to protect this sensitive area.

2. Spot treat your zit with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. You can also use a hydrocolloid bandage.

3. Wear sunscreen to protect your skin and help it heal. In addition to applying sunscreen all over your face, you can try a non-comedogenic lip balm with SPF like EltaMD UV Lip Balm SPF 31.

4. Compress. You can use a warm or cool compress to help alleviate swelling and pain. My go-to is a green tea bag, steeped then cooled to around room temperature.

5. Don’t pick. Only pop a pimple when your dermatology provider says it’s okay, and don’t pick or scratch at them!

6. Don’t touch. You might be hyper-aware of that whitehead on the corner of your mouth, but touching it may transmit gunk from your hands to your face, which can make breakouts worse.

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Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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