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What Causes Chin Acne and How to Get Rid of Them?

Chin pimples are very common, especially for people with adult or hormonal acne. Studies have demonstrated acne on the chin and jawline is often associated with hormones, particularly in women. Hormones called androgens stimulate the production of sebum, which is the oil responsible for clogging the pores. Hormone production increases during the teenage years, so acne breakouts in teens are more common. Moreover, up to 54% of women and 40% of men above the age of 25 continue to develop acne throughout adulthood [1].

What Causes Chin Acne?

Acne of the chin results from clogged hair follicles caused by dead skin cells, bacteria, and excess oil. Other factors that can worsen chin acne, such as moisturizers, make-up, and hair products that contain heavy oils that clog pores and cause breakouts.

This is commonly observed during the Covid period, when mask wearing is compulsory. The excess sebum production and accumulation leads to inflammation, subsequent infection by bacteria. Prolong wearing of face masks creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth, accumulation of dirt, make up, sweat and oil in the pores. This may develop into acne around the area covered by your mask, including your chin.

Treatment for Chin Acne

Treatments for acne are widely available on the market, we have divided these treatments into topical treatments, topical medication, oral medications, and in-clinic skin treatments. As there is no one size fits all acne treatment, consult your doctor for a customized treatment regime according to your skin type, medical history, severity of acne and lifestyle.

1. Over the Counter (OTC) Topical Treatment

Topical treatment like creams and serums are the most commonly used products to treat chin acne. Benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, salicylic acid and adapalene are the common topical acne agents you can find in the form of creams, gels, lotions and facial washes to treat acne. They help to kill bacteria on your skin, exfoliate your skin, remove sebum and dead skin cells as well as relieve redness and inflammation.

OTC treatments are suitable for mild to moderate acne conditions such as blackheads and whiteheads. For cystic or inflammatory acne, it is best to consult an experienced doctor to determine the suitable course of treatment for your skin concern.

2. Prescription Topical Medication

A prescription topical acne treatment may be necessary if you have moderate-to-severe or stubborn acne, and you have not found relief with OTC solutions. Some of these topical medications include retinoids and antibiotics. Although retinoids can be effective in treating acne, proper application is essential to prevent possible side effects such as skin sensitivity, dryness, and peeling. 

Another prescription treatment option is antibiotic cream. Acne outbreaks can be treated with antibiotics by targeting the bacterial infection that underlies some outbreaks and by treating red, painful acne. The downside of antibiotics is that they often cause harsh side effects and may make bacteria more difficult to treat in the long term. Hence, it can only be a temporary solution. All prescription medication should be carefully monitored and reviewed by the doctor regularly to minimize side effects.

Chemical peel treatment

3. Medical Grade Chemical Peel

Chemical peel works by exfoliating your skin with chemical peeling agent applied to your skin surface. It removes dead skin cells and excess oils from the surface of your skin. This prevents blockage of hair follicles and pores which causes acne formation. Unlike over-the-counter peels, medical grade chemical peels work deeper into the skin and help to exfoliate thoroughly.

4. Laser Treatment

Lasers are effective treatments as they can control inflamed acne lesions by targeting many of the main pathophysiologic factors[2]. While topical treatments can kill bacteria on your skin’s surface, lasers can reach deeper into your dermis and destroy acne causing bacteria without harming the deeper layer of your skin while clearing your pores.

They also remove hair and shrink your sebaceous glands, reducing sebum production, preventing acne. Additionally, lasers can help reduce inflammation and speed up healing of your skin by stimulating your skin cells and increasing circulation. In addition to treating acne, laser treatment can also be used to resurface your skin, removing damaged layers and revealing healthier-looking skin while fading atrophic acne scars, and brown and red marks.

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These benefits make laser treatment a highly effective treatment. Some of the popular lasers include Q-switched nanosecond, picosecond, long-pulsed Nd: YAG, Erbium YAG and yellow laser.

5. Radiofrequency (RF) Microneedling

This minimally invasive process helps to prevent acne from forming by reducing sebum production, minimizing pore size and slow down acne breakout[3]. RF Microneedling uses fine needles to create channels in the skin to deliver radiofrequency energy directly into the deeper skin layers to shrink the overactive sebaceous glands. In addition to stimulating collagen and elastin production, it also tightens collagen fibers, repairs damaged tissues, breaks down scar tissue, reduces acne scars, and lightens brown acne marks, a condition known as Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), resulting from inflammation caused by acne or an injury.

detail skin scar surface diagram

6. Intensed Pulsed Light (IPL)

IPL is an energy-based device that emits quick pulses of good band light energy to the targeted area. Unlike lasers, which deliver light energy of one precise wavelength, IPL releases a broad spectrum of pulsed light wavelengths, which is therefore less focused and more scattered. The intense pulsed light can penetrate to deeper layers of the skin beneath the acne to;

Kill acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes)

When the pulses touch the skin, this light energy is absorbed by porphyrins, a class of pigments in our body which causes a chemical reaction producing reactive oxygen and heat which destroys Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes acne [4].

Permanant hair reduction

IPL also targets your pilosebaceous glands, permanently reducing hair follicles. Using this method helps clear out the pores and prevents them from clogging. Additionally, it eliminates the need for aggressive hair removal methods that may exacerbate inflammation. As a result, future breakouts are reduced.

Reduce sebum production

Short pulses of intense light are emitted from the applicator to the skin. Capillaries that feed the sebaceous gland are stuck together by flashes of light. As a result of a lack of nutrition, the sebaceous gland produces less sebum. When bacteria lose their nutrient medium, they are unable to reproduce, resulting in a reduction of acne-causing bacteria on the skin [6]. Consequently, fewer comedones are formed.

7. LED PhotoLight Therapy

There are different lights that can help treat acne[7]. Most commonly used lights are blue, red and infrared light. The different wavelengths of these lights help to reduce acne. Blue light reduces the activity in your sebaceous glands, which in turn slows down sebum production and kills acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Red light stimulates your fibroblasts, which are skin cells responsible for producing collagen and speeding up wound healing. Furthermore, it reduces redness, swelling and inflammation, thus improving acne's appearance. As infrared light penetrates deeper into the skin, it has been shown to increase blood flow, which reduces inflammation from acne and supports natural cell regeneration.

Although LED light therapy offers various benefits, there is a difference between professional LED light therapy in clinics and LED light therapy at home. For effective skin treatment, appropriate wavelength and energy density are crucial. Compared to at-home LED light therapy, professional LED light therapy uses more powerful light sources, which deliver more benefits to the skin since at-home LED devices may not have the correct wavelength to reach the skin's depth.

This treatment can be used singly or in combination with other colours as well as other treatments for optimal results. Speak to your doctor to understand which treatment is suitable for you to help you achieve your skin goals more efficiently.

8. Prescription Oral Medications


Antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, are the most often used oral medication for treating moderate and severe inflammatory acne. Oral antibiotics can kill bacteria, help reduce redness and inflammation. However, due to risk of drug resistance, antibiotics are not meant for long term use. As it allows bacteria to develop resistance to the drug, making them more difficult to treat in the future. Another disadvantage of oral antibiotics for acne is that it takes about up to six weeks to only start seeing results and during the course of this treatment, it can also cause gastric discomfort, nausea or diarrhea as it can affect your bacterial balance. Aside from that, the skin can also become more sensitive to the sun.


Isotretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A is often prescribed to individuals with severe acne. This medication work by reducing the size of your sebaceous glands, thus reducing sebum production, preventing acne. It is the most effective and efficacious treatment for severe acne to date. Patients would also be required to review regularly with doctors to monitor progress and side effects closely as too high a dosage of vitamin A can cause hypervitaminosis A which may cause osteoporosis and damage to the liver and kidney. Other side effects of isotretinoin include skin irritation and itching, rash, dry eyes, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headache.

This medication should not be used by pregnant or trying to conceive women because of its risk for birth defects. Although this treatment is generally considered safe, it's best to speak to your doctor first.

Oral Contraceptives

Chin acne can be caused by increased sebum production from hormones. In such cases, oral contraceptives containing estrogen and progestogens can be prescribed to reduce the effect of androgens which is responsible for increased sebum production, one of the triggers of acne. However, once you stop taking this medication, you may experience more frequent and painful breakouts. Since the pills suppress our bodies' natural hormones in favour of synthetic estrogen and progestogens, when you stop taking them, your body may revert to its original state or worsen.

Some other side effects for women include breast tenderness, weight gain, spotting between periods, missing periods, decreased libido and mood changes. Birth control pills are only suitable for women above the age of 14, reached puberty and started menstruating as taking it before starting menstruation can damage your hormones.

Other serious potential complication of birth control pill is developing a blood clot in your heart, lungs, brain, or legs. The risk is increased in women:

  • Who smokes
  • Aged 35 and older
  • Medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and conditions that increase the risk of blood clotting
  • Confined to bed rest or wearing a cast

It is not recommended for people with a history of depression to take birth control, as it may worsen their condition.

Anti-Androgen Pills

Another type of medication known as anti-androgen pills or spironolactone block the effects of androgens on your sebaceous glands instead[8]. This may be prescribed by your skin doctor if oral contraceptives do not work. This medication is an off-label use for treating acne in females, so it needs to be used with caution and regularly reviewed by the doctor. Among the side effects of this medication are:

  • High blood potassium which may cause heart rhythm problems,
  • Low blood sodium (hyponatremia) which may lead to kidney failure and etc.  
  • Breast tenderness (Males & Females)
  • More pronounced female characteristics should males take it
  • Loss of libido in males
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach problems (Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Central nervous system problems which includes brain and spinal cord.
  • Skin rash

Other Ways to Prevent Chin Acne

  • Wash your face at least twice a day with a gentle yet effective non-comedogenic cleanser to keep your pores clean.
  • Switch to non-comedogenic skincare and makeup products that do not contain ingredients that can clog the pores.
  • If you wear a face mask, wash it, or replace it regularly. Cleanse and moisturize your skin after removing the mask.
  • Avoid or consume foods in moderation that can cause acne such as food rich in refined carbohydrates and fat, such as fast food
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Causes of chin acne differs between different individuals so if topical solutions do not work for you, it is best to consult an aesthetics physician. An important consideration is the experience of the doctors performing these acne treatments as they would be better at diagnosing the underlying cause of your chin acne. Before proceeding, make sure the skin clinic in Singapore also offers you information on how the different types of treatments can treat your acne.