Acne on the forehead: Why it happens and how to cope

Acne on the forehead is a common concern for many. The T-zone, which covers the forehead, nose, and chin, is a hot spot for pimples. But you can make those unsightly little bumps go away. All you need is an understanding of how and why forehead acne occurs, basic knowledge of how to prevent flares, and a targeted treatment plan. 


Why am I breaking out on my forehead?

Forehead acne develops in the same way as acne on other parts of the body. Sebaceous glands located under the skin produce a natural oil called sebum. The sebum travels to the skin’s surface through tiny openings called pores. As excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells accumulate on the skin, they sometimes block these pores, and acne bacteria begin to breed inside. The bacteria cause the skin to swell and form pimples.

Now that you know how forehead acne arises, let us dive into the reasons why the area above the brows is so acne-prone.

  1. Excess oil: Hormonal fluctuations around puberty are often responsible for pushing up sebum levels and causing early breakouts on the forehead. You might also struggle with a pimply T-zone if you live in a hot and humid region or if one of your parents had acne. (Discover why teens are so prone to acne.)
  2. Hair and hair products: Thick and greasy hair styling products like oils
    , pomades, gels, and waxes can leave their mark on your forehead. These zits even have their own special name: pomade acne. But hair products alone are not to blame. Natural oils from your hair could also trigger acne along the hairline.
  3. Hygiene: Skipping out on cleansing your face and hair may result in oil deposits that plug the pores along your forehead, creating breeding grounds for acne bacteria. Another common culprit is sweat. If you don’t wash off the perspiration immediately, sweat can increase the oil levels in the pores and worsen your acne.
  4. Skin irritants: Hats, headbands, and even your bike helmet could be aggravating your acne. Consider replacing these accessories if the fit is tight or the material irritates your skin. Another common irritant is makeup. If your acne flare coincides with the use of new cosmetics, your makeup could be the culprit.


How do I manage my forehead acne?

Acne on the forehead usually appears in the form of pimples. You may notice small inflamed bumps (papules) or bumps containing white or yellow pus at the tip (pustules). Some people experience nodular or cystic acne on the forehead, but this is not too common. 

Preventive measures and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments should help you tackle mild-to-moderate flares. Here is your forehead acne survival kit:

  1. Cleanse, tone, and moisturise (CTM) daily: For best results, schedule a twice-daily CTM routine. 
    1. Cleanse to wash off dirt, excess oil, and harmful bacteria. 
    2. Tone to replenish the skin’s pH level and remove residual grime. 
    3. Moisturise to hydrate, nourish, and protect the skin from impurities.
  2. Exfoliate the gunk away: Use an exfoliating cleanser once or twice a week to eliminate dead skin cells and other debris that may be blocking the pores. Regularly deep-cleaning the pores with an exfoliant keeps your complexion clean and smooth while preventing excess build-up.
  3. Attack the acne directly: For mild-to-moderate forehead acne, invest in a multitasking product like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream. This not only combats redness and swelling but also deep-cleans the pores and wards off acne bacteria and infections. Its antioxidant formula helps revitalise the skin. 
  4. Take a dermatologist’s advice: If you have nodular and cystic acne on the forehead or if OTC treatments don’t seem to be working, consult a professional. The dermatologist may prescribe topical or oral medication to treat your acne. They could also offer tips on how to minimise acne scars.
  5. Eliminate the irritants: Start with simple steps like shampooing your hair
    regularly and finding substitutes for hair products that trigger pimples. Resolve also to use cosmetics that are non-comedogenic and alcohol-free. Cutting out these offenders could help clear up your forehead.
  6. Try the hands-off approach: In other words, don’t pop that pimple on your forehead. Touching the affected area won’t make the zits go away faster. By running your fingers over the forehead, you actually risk spreading the bacteria and worsening your symptoms.



Acne on the forehead is quite common, and milder flares can be managed at home with the help of OTC products. However, severe nodulocystic acne may need a dermatologist’s intervention. Do your skin a favour and zero in on a treatment plan right away. While you may not see instant results, continued care will send those forehead pimples packing. Just wait and watch!





Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.