What Causes Lip Acne And How You Can Prevent It

Having acne, in any part of your body, is frustrating. But having a breakout along your lip line is a whole different ball of wax. For instance, swollen pimples are painful, but lip pimples can hurt even more. This is because the skin around your lips is thinner and more sensitive than other skin areas, says dermatologist Dr. Christine Ko to Insider. Besides, the regular movement that our lips are constantly executing, such as talking, eating, and yawning, also makes the pain seem more persistent.

While lip pimples look like cold sores, a viral infection marked by fluid-filled blisters on and around your lips, these are two different conditions that have little in common. Cold sores, as dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner explains to Byrdie, make their presence known through a stinging sensation followed by "a clustered group of small blisters." The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes cold sores, whereas bacteria causes lips pimples. Lip acne takes the form of red bumps, not blisters, and usually pops up around the lip edge rather than directly on the lips. The good news is, lip acne can be prevented and treated using simple methods. Here's everything you need to know about lip acne and what you can do to prevent it.

What causes lip acne?

Like most pimples that you get elsewhere, acne that forms near your mouth is caused by bacteria, excess sebum production, and clogged pores caused by sweat, makeup, and impurities. Speaking to Real Simple, dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo adds that one of the most common culprits for lip blemishes is scented lip products, like lipstick, gloss, and lip balms. If you habitually wear face masks, which inevitably rub against your lips, the humidity coupled with abrasion makes the area around your mouth a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. 

Medical News Today also points out some potential causes of blemishes around the mouth, including hormonal changes, oily skin, touching your face, as well as holding a phone against the face. Leaving greasy food and drink residue around the mouth area after eating can also make your mouth and lips vulnerable to blemishes since small food particles around the mouth can clog the pores and cause acne to form. Waxing, shaving, or plucking hair around the lips can also inflame the follicles and trigger breakouts in the close vicinity of the mouth. Although it is hard to tell when a pimple will appear on the border of your lip, there are ways to avoid getting one.

How to prevent and trip lip acne

One way to do so, according to SkinKraft, is to keep your skin hygienic For facial cleansing, use a mild cleanser to remove excess sebum and pollutants before applying moisturizer. Before going out, always slather on sunscreen to prevent photodamage. To keep your skin and lips hydrated, consume at least three liters of water daily, and never go to sleep without first removing the lipstick. You might want to give greasy foods, dairy, and sweet treats a pass because they can cause pimples to flare. 

In case pimples are already flaring up around your lip line, Healthline recommends applying benzoyl peroxide to your affected skin. Containing bactericidal substances, benzoyl peroxide is known to reduce inflammation, open the pores, and unleash oxygen to annihilate pore-clogging bacteria. Castor oil, a moisturizer containing ricinoleic acid with anti-inflammatory elements, has been proven effective in minimizing inflammation as well as promoting hydration. Tea tree oil, an essential oil with antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties, is also an ideal home remedy for treating acne.

In case you're vulnerable to frequent breakouts, especially around your mouth, you should consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and timely medical treatments. No matter how frustrated you are about the blemishes around your lips, refrain from popping or squeezing them to avoid damaging the skin barrier and pushing bacteria deeper into the skin. This action will exacerbate the swelling and might cause more acne to form on your face.