There are a slew of reasons why we break out: traveling, stress, and even junk food binging are all possible culprits. Sometimes, flare-ups are predictable (like when you have your period), but often, the source of irritation is a mystery. Good news: The location can unlock the real reason behind your blemishes, allowing you to proactively prevent your next complexion conundrum. Read on to learn what bumps mean when they pop up in five common areas of the face.


If you’re having a forehead freakout, everyday hair care products could be to blame. Lingering conditioner could clog your pores especially if they contain sodium lauryl sulfate and fragrance, both of which irritate the skin. “Be sure to thoroughly rinse in the shower, and if you use any styling products, protect your forehead from contact,” says Ava Shamban, a dermatologist based in Beverly Hills.


Resting our chin on our hands might be comfortable, but it has been known to spread breakout-causing bacteria. “You can develop pressure acne, which forms in the exact location as where you applied the pressure,” explains Shamban. The next time you see pimples below your mouth, notice if they popped up where you usually have hand-to-chin contact.


Now there are more reasons to make sure your phone is clean! Pimples along the cheekbones are a telltale sign of a dirty cell phone screen, so sanitize it as often as possible. Since this is a common acne area in every age group, if it seems to be recurring for several months, Shamban recommends switching your foundation or blush.


Unfortunately, our noses are always acne prone simply because they produce more oil than other areas of our face. “It has the highest density of sebaceous glands, so we’re prone to breakouts here no matter what,” Shamban says. Nose bumps are also a sign of pressure acne from glasses, so double check that your style isn’t resting too snugly against your skin.


Acne in this area may look different than other irritated sections of your face because it’s often hormone-driven. “Jawline zits are 100 percent hormonal and can be due to low-grade, chronic stress,” Shamban explains. Adopt a strict hands-off policy and a topical benzoyl peroxide. “If over the counter doesn’t work, see your doctor after a few weeks,” she warns.

Want more skincare tips? Follow us on Pinterest!

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.

Illustration: Sarah Tate