What do pimples on certain areas of your body mean?

While we know the short-term fix to a pimple is to cover it up with makeup or whack cream on the spot, we’ve often wondered what actually it is that causes spots to break out in specific areas of our face.

According to dermatologist, Monash University Associate and chief of surgery at the Skin and Cancer Foundation of Victoria, Professor Greg Goodman, the most common areas women get acne are the forehead, jawline, back and around the lips. And there’s a reason for it.


“This is usually the first place you get pimples in puberty,” Dr Goodman says.

“It’s comedonal acne which is blocked up acne, and is usually caused by hair follicles blocked by excess moisture and grease.”

“The most common cause is sweating,” says dermatologist Dr Michael Freeman. “This can be exacerbated by wearing hats, and also oils from your hair.”

If you've got a fringe like Rihanna, take care to avoid makeing your forehead oily. Image via Getty


Unfortunately, this is the area most older women will develop acne.

"This is a common place for late acne development in women from their late 20s and 30s," says Dr Goodman. "That's because it gravitates down your face."

"In women, it's hormones to blame," agrees Dr Freeman.

Lily Allen suffers from acne on her chin and jawline.



The most inconvenient kind of acne (particularly in the warmer, singlet-wearing months) bacne has a surprising cause.

"Genetics are the main cause of acne on the back, but it can also be from anabolic steriods," explains Dr Freeman.

Cream isn't always the best option for treating it. "The best way is generally aural therapy," says Dr Goodman. "Unfortunately pimples on the back are often a hereditary issue." (Post continues after gallery.)



According to Dr Goodman, the spots around your lips might not actually be acne.

"More often than not, the redness around your lips is actually perioral dermatitis, which looks similar to acne but it's not. It's caused by excessive moisture."

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Image via iStock.


"Using creams, especially those with oils can cause pimples around the lips," says Dr Freeman.

"Additionally there is a special situation where cortisone will cause this if applied regularly."

Treating pimples

So given that there are so many different causes, should you be treating each area differently?

"It's best to address the cause of the acne," says Dr Freeman.

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"If the causes above don't apply to you, then treating the acne is similar in all areas. However, often the back will require a stronger treatment."


It's also important to remember that there are different things to blame for blackheads and whiteheads.

"Acne is essentially a plumbing or drainage problem," says Dr Goodman. (Post continues after gallery.)

"Blackheads are due to a build-up in the dead skin of a pore with bacteria, while a whitehead occurs after a blackhead suddenly inflames causing inflammation and the accumulation of white blood cells," explains Dr Freeman.

While our major concern is typically focused on getting rid of the pimple, Dr Goodman stresses that it's far more important to try and combat the cause, rather than the result.

"Most people think that pimples are the problem, when they're actually the end stage," he says.

Monique Bowley and Holly Wainwright - both non-popper fans - were forced to watch Dr Pimple Popper on an episode of Mamamia OutLoud. Post continues after audio:

"So in some ways, it actually defies logic to try and treat an existing pimple, because they are just the outcome of the issue. So the exploded hair follicle happened days ago - the pimple is just the end result."

Dr Freeman also advises against squeezing which can cause scarring, irritating the skin with too many products (always make sure you're using "non-comedogenic" cosmetics which won't cause acne) and to do something about it early.

"A mistake people make is not treating it early enough - this can avoid more severe changes in the acne," he says. (Post continues after gallery.)


A healthy diet and skincare regime can lessen your chances of getting pesky pimples.

"If you eat like rubbish, you'll look like rubbish," says Dr Goodman. "So eat well."

"Also use non-comedogenic skincare products and wear sunscreen."

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According to Dr Freeman, reducing the amount of milk you consume could also help. Studies have found that milk is naturally high in anabolic hormones which can stimulate insulin production and as a result your skin to produce more pimples.

"Also use a good (non-beaded) exfoliating cleanser too, but avoid rubbing the skin," he says.

"If stress is a factor, try doing some relaxation exercises."

Disclaimer: If you're concerned about you acne, please seek advice from your local GP.

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