Acne Face Map: What Your Breakouts Are Trying To Tell You

Reviewed by Dr. Aanand Geria, MD
Written by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

Acne is a complex skin condition and reflects the processes inside our body.
The idea of the acne face map is rooted in this principle. Acne face mapping is followed in traditional Chinese medicine and is based on the idea that internal factors may trigger acne on a particular spot on your face.
Multiple factors like hormonal changes, diet, stress, and medication may trigger acne. Therefore, if you often get breakouts on a particular spot, you can refer to the acne face map to understand the reason. While there could be several other reasons behind acne, this can help you understand the root cause of the occasional breakouts. Scroll down and take a look.

Acne Face Mapping: A Quick Tour

Acne face map

This is an ancient concept practiced widely in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. In those days, the scholars used this face map to diagnose various internal issues by observing certain traits on different areas of your face. However, at that time, this was done only by clinical experience. The scholars and doctors in ancient times had no other way to diagnose other than the symptoms or by touching and asking questions.

But now, as medical science has advanced, doctors follow a face map that is based on scientific evidence for proper and thorough diagnosis.

If you have recurring acne on certain parts of your face, here is what it means.

Acne Face Map: What’s The Actual Cause Behind Your Acne?

  1. Acne On Your Forehead And Your Nose (The T-Zone)
  2. Acne On Your Hairline
  3. Acne On The Eyebrow Area
  4. Acne On Your Cheeks
  5. Acne On Your Jawline And Chin
  6. Acne On Your Ears

1. Acne On Your Forehead And Your Nose (The T-Zone)

Acne on your forehead and your nose

Recurring acne in the T-zone (forehead and nose area) is mainly caused due to excessive sebum or oil production and stress. Although stress and oil production are not related, stress can definitely worsen your acne. A study also confirmed the same (1). This survey on 215 medical students found that about 67% of them had acne that was triggered by stress.

Even in adult females, stress plays a crucial role in aggravating acne (2). How it does so is still unclear.

Acne on your forehead may be due to a number of issues, such as poor diet and pore-clogging chemicals present in hair products.

Avoid touching your forehead frequently. Unclean hands and fingers spread dirt directly to your skin, which clogs the pores and causes acne (2).

2. Acne On Your Hairline

Acne on your hairline

Some hair care products contain pomades (a greasy and water-based chemical). Your shampoo, hairspray, hair serum – anything may contain pomade. When you apply pomade on your scalp, it often irritates the skin on your forehead, especially the part close to your hairline. This type of acne is called pomade acne. When you see that you have recurring acne near your hairline, understand that something’s wrong with your hair care product(s).

The best way to avoid it is to stop using that product or change the product immediately. Use shampoos and products that are non-comedogenic (that don’t clog your skin pores).

3. Acne On The Eyebrow Area

Acne on the eyebrow area

If you have acne on your eyebrows, it is caused by an irritated hair follicle (caused by eyebrow or face makeup or hair care products). If you use brow styling products, make sure they are non-comedogenic, and you clean the applicator frequently. Ingrown hair caused by shaving, threading, and plucking eyebrows can also cause acne.

What you eat reflects on your skin. Although researchers are not clear about how diet affects acne, evidence proves that it does affect your breakouts (3). A diet high in processed foods, alcohol, and fat can be one reason for acne. Improper water intake and issues with your gallbladder can be other factors.

4. Acne On Your Cheeks

Acne on your cheeks

From dirty pillowcases and makeup brushes to your cellphones, and stress, there are a lot of reasons for the recurring acne on your cheeks. While talking, the majority of us hold the phone to our ears, with the screen touching our cheeks. A study found that most mobile phone screen surfaces are contaminated with germs and bacteria. And this is the easiest way for the bacteria to reach your skin (4).

Another study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London found fecal traces on phone screens (5).

Hence, maintaining basic hygiene is very important.

5. Acne On Your Jawline And Chin

Acne on your jawline and chin

Your hormones mostly regulate chin and jawline acne. A study says that hormonal acne is mainly concentrated in the lower third of the face, i.e., your chin and jawline (6).

In other words, acne on this part of your face is related to your endocrine system that regulates hormone production. Usually, when your body has excess androgen, your oil glands become overactive. Also, the hormone production increases during your menstrual cycle and when you are on progestin-only birth control medication.

Your hormones are also affected by your diet. Research reveals that your hormone levels fluctuate on the basis of your diet. So, if you are following a high-carb diet containing lots of dairy products, your hormone levels will go up (7).

Check your diet if you have frequent breakouts in this particular area.

6. Acne On Your Ears

Acne on your ears

You can get acne on your ears due to certain reasons like:

  • Bacteria build-up (due to using unclean headphones or putting your fingers into your ear quite often)
  • Stress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Pore-clogging hair care products and cosmetics

Once you identify your acne pattern, you can work on it. Although you can’t do much about hormonal acne, there are ways to reduce the severity of acne.

Tips To Prevent Acne: Things You Should Keep In Mind

  • Maintain Hygiene

Keep your face clean and avoid touching it often, especially with unclean hands. Also, do not use soap and harsh face washes to wash your face.

  • Drink Water And Check Your Diet

Drink water and check your diet

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Kick the habit of eating a lot of processed foods. Cut down sugar from your diet. Chips, baked goodies, and soft drinks raise your blood sugar levels and affect your breakout patterns. Also, if you find that dairy products trigger your breakouts, cut down on their consumption. Drink plenty of water. When you are dehydrated, your body produces more oil. Also, when you are dehydrated, your cells cannot function properly.

  • Check Your Makeup And Hair Care Products

Switch to products that are non-comedogenic. Avoid using hair care products that contain pomades. Keep track of the products that make your skin break out. Whenever you are choosing products, always pick the ones that are oil-free and non-comedogenic.

  • Avoid Touching And Popping Your Acne

Avoid touching and popping your acne

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I know it’s hard to resist the temptation to pop acne, but avoid doing that. This worsens the inflammation and increases the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

  • Reduce Your Stress Levels

Now that you know stress worsens your acne, take active measures to de-stress yourself. Discover activities that can act as stress busters. Try yoga, meditation, gardening, aromatherapy, or any other activity that you love.

Acne face map is an ancient diagnostic technique used by doctors today to understand the causes behind acne on different parts of your face. Acne on each part of your face is caused by different factors. Acne on your forehead is caused by lack of sleep, stress, and poor diet. On the other hand, if you see acne on your ears or chin, it is probably due to bacterial build-up or hormonal imbalance. Once your doctor identifies the cause behind the acne, you can reduce acne by maintaining a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and managing your stress levels healthily.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Study of Psychological Stress..”, Advances in Dermatology and Venerology
  2. Emerging Issues in Adult Female Acne”, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine
  3. The relationship of diet and acne”, Dermato Endocrinology, US National Library of Medicine
  4. High level bacterial contamination..”, Germs, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Contamination of UK mobile phones..”, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  6. Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update”, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine
  7. Diet and Dermatology..”, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine
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Dr. Aanand Geria

(MD)
Dr. Aanand Geria is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Geria Dermatology in Rutherford, New Jersey. He is an expert... more

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