Breakout Break-Down: What Is Causing Your Spots?

There are very few of us lucky enough to have never woken up in the morning with a red blemish on our face. Whether it's one every now and then or regular breakouts, almost all of us have had to battle a spot or two (or 100).

Adult acne is just as common as teenage acne, and according to American Academy of Dermatology 85 percent of people aged between 12 and 24 have experienced at least one bout of acne.

It’s common knowledge that the secret to tackling pimples is to identify the cause, but in recent years Chinese dermatology has taken diagnosing blemished skin one step further, by aligning the location of your spots to varying health issues. This is called face mapping, in which the face acts as an outside view of the body's internal health.

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See the best products to treat spots and acne-prone skin

So, from spots on your chin to breakouts on your forehead and spots on your back, what is your skin trying to tell you?

What do spots on your forehead mean?

Your forehead is believed to indicate problems with the bladder or the digestive system, so if you’re getting spots here it could mean you’re dehydrated or eating too many processed foods.

The forehead is also linked to the nervous system, so high stress levels could be contributing to your breakouts.

What do spots on your hairline mean?

According to expert facialist Kate Kerr, if you’re experiencing breakouts around the temples or hairline, the culprit could be as obvious as your hair products. The ingredients in shampoos, serums etc. can affect everyone in different ways and some cause congestion in the pores. Try out a few different brands to find out which is kindest on your skin.

Bumps on your forehead can also be caused from exercising, as your sweat glands can become easily clogged in this area. Try showering as soon as possible after a workout and cleanse your face thoroughly.

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What do spots in-between your eyebrows mean?

If you’re getting spots in the middle of your forehead or between your eyebrows it could mean that you’re consuming too much alcohol and rich foods, or could mean you're allergic to a type of food.

What do spots on your ears mean?

According to Chinese dermatology those painful stubborn spots you get in your ears may be a sign that you need to drink more water and cut down on caffeine and alcohol, as your ears are linked to your kidneys.

What do spots on your cheeks mean?

If you’re breaking out regularly on your cheeks it could be due to a number of things. The cheeks are said to reveal respiratory distress, so smoking, allergies or pollution could be responsible.

Or, your cheeks may flare up if your metabolism is slow and your body is not absorbing nutrients quick enough.

Probably the most common cause for spots on cheeks, though, is due to the spread of bacteria from your hands, your phone, and your pillowcases. So, purchase some hand sanitiser to take in your bag, wash your pillowcases weekly, clean your phone screen (carefully…no water damage please) and do not ever touch your face. We mean it.

What do spots around your eyes mean?

Eyes, like ears, are linked to the kidneys, so dehydration is most likely the reason why you have blemishes in this area. Similarly, dark circles, though mostly hereditary, are worsened by not drinking enough water.

What do spots on your nose mean?

Spots on your nose will most likely flare up if you have high blood pressure. Also, if you’re using comedogenic makeup products they will often clog your pores and make you break out in this area.

What do spots on your jawline and spots on your chin mean?

Spots on the lower third of your face are generally related to hormones and tend to sync with your menstrual cycle, so are, annoyingly, harder to tackle. Even as adults our oestrogen and progesterone levels are constantly shifting, and the hormonal imbalance can be responsible for unwelcome flare-ups.

Women who suffer with hormonal acne can usually see results by taking the contraceptive pill, but each women reacts to birth control pills differently.

Unsurprisingly, stress is another reason why you may be breaking out around your jaw or mouth. Also, your chin mirrors the small intestine so a poor diet filled with carbs and sugar can also lead to pesky pimples.

What do spots around your mouth mean?

If you're breaking out around the mouth it could be caused by the residue from any greasy or fatty foods in your diet. Try cutting down on these, or rinse your face after eating.

What do spots on my back or chest mean?

The back and chest are areas where we have a higher number of oil glands, and we tend to sweat more profusely here, so you may find that spots on the back of your neck is a common problem. Wearing materials that don’t quickly draw sweat away from the skin, such as cotton, can result in irritation, leading to outbreaks. Man-made fibres that are designed to be fast drying will help reduce this and are particularly important to wear during exercise. Also, try loosening your bra straps and carry less on weight on your shoulders to keep skin irritation to a minimum.

Quick tip: Let your skin sweat

On the flipside, as with our face, it can be beneficial to sweat as it flushes the skin of cell debris from within the pores. It’s important, however, that the skin is clean and makeup or moisturiser free to allow the process to work its magic.

Tips for de-stressing to reduce acne

Stress is a direct catalyst to acne flare-ups if you're prone to getting spots. One study explains how stress causes an inflammatory response in the body, which leads to a broken pore become red and filled with puss.

To de-stress try these 3 things:

  1. Exercise every day to promote oxygen flow to the brain, as that reduces stress
  2. Spend 10-15 minutes every day meditating or practising deep breathing exercises
  3. Get a good night’s sleep of 7-9 hours per night

See the best products for treating spots and acne-prone skin

To learn more about how to get the best night's sleep, read: Don't Skimp On Sleep: How To Get The Rest You Need

Herbal and detox teas contain skin-saving ingredients which could aid your acne. Find out The Benefits And Uses Of Detox Teas And Herbal Teas

READ MORE: The Best Face Masks To Save Your Skin This Winter

READ MORE: Q&A With Dr. Pimple Popper: How To Deal With Acne

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