My chin is breaking out, and not into dance...
April 28, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Within the last 6-8 months, I've been breaking out (blackheads/whiteheads) around my chin and mouth area. I'm experienced in dealing with acne, but nothing I do helps.

I am a 26 year old female. I've been dealing with acne since I hit puberty. I've been using Azelex for the last two years.

Up until about 6-8 months ago, I've had an acne-free face* using Azelex. Now, it doesn't matter what time of the month it is, I get terrible break outs around my chin and mouth. Specifically: blackheads on my lip line, and whiteheads and blackheads on my chin. I've done all of the things I could think of: reduce stress, change my pillow case more often, get off all harsh meds and cleansers to let my skin "rest" (that was 3 months ago, it didn't work), make sure the things I put up to my face (phones, etc.) are clean, etc... Nothing helps. And, my face stays red for a long while after the breakouts, which never used to be the case.

One possibility: the new beau has a goatee. I refuse to make him get rid of it. If that's the culprit, is there anything he can do to help me out a bit? Trimming a little closer? Specific shampoos?

And, do you have any tricks I may not have thought of to get rid of my problem? Do you think this medication has simply lost its effectiveness? Does that actually happen?

I'm really at a loss here. I don't want to look like I'm 15 again. In case anyone wants to suggest the ridiculous: I am NOT pregnant.

*I've had some small breakouts during my time of month, but the meds knocked them out within a day or two
posted by Lizsterr to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and I forgot to mention: I've been dating my dude for about 10 months, and his facial hair hasn't always been consistent. No goatee at one point and full beard at another. However, the problem has been consistent.
posted by Lizsterr at 3:11 PM on April 28, 2010

IANAD, but I use raspberry seed oil to calm redness and tea tree oil pads for breakouts. I asked a "cruelty free acne products" question earlier and got some good advice. I'd link it if I wasn't such a MeFi html putz. Trader Joes has tea tree oil stuff cheap. I used meds but they peeled my face off. So far monthly professional facials and natural stuff has worked well. Good luck.
posted by ShadePlant at 3:28 PM on April 28, 2010

What does your guy use on his face? Maybe you're having a reaction to his face wash/lotion. Or maybe his face is oily and it's getting on your skin. You might want to look into changing his face washing routine.
posted by ishotjr at 3:30 PM on April 28, 2010

Could you have developed some sort of nervous face-touching habit without realizing it-- while you're on the computer, for instance, or perhaps even while you're asleep? Maybe try being extra-vigilant about not touching, and/or sleeping in cotton gloves, for a few days to see if that helps?
posted by Bardolph at 3:32 PM on April 28, 2010

Hmm. . .a lot of people say that breakouts along that area, particularly the chin/jawline, is hormonal, and not "you're pregnant" hormonal, just our hormone levels fluctuate and in women, this is what can happen. That's often said with a shrug and a "what are ya gonna do?" sentiment, but it still sucks.

A clean phone is a huge thing, but you're already on top of that. One other thing that sometimes causes me to break out there, is that I occasionally slip into the habit of resting my chin in my hand. Oftentimes, I don't even realize I'm doing it until I notice some ill effects.

Could this be beard burn? If you're making out a lot, your boyfriend's beard could be the culprit. That doesn't mean he has to shave it, but maybe some protective moisturizing lotion or ointment before beard exposure might help.

Lastly, when all else fails talk to your dermatologist. It may be a simple solution that only a doctor would think to mention. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 3:33 PM on April 28, 2010

Did you start hormonal birth control when you started your relationship? I've read that acne around the mouth and chin is often related to hormones.
posted by something something at 3:33 PM on April 28, 2010

Response by poster: No birth control or other hormones. The dude also gets occasional acne, and he uses acne products.
posted by Lizsterr at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2010

Best answer: It sounds like it may be Perioral dermatitis. When I had it, I switched to a toothpaste without SLS and it seemed to help.

Have you recently changed toothpastes or mouth washes?
posted by 6:1 at 3:50 PM on April 28, 2010

Give this a read. He suggests sleeping with a clean towel over his pillow every night elimated his acne.
posted by DrDreidel at 4:03 PM on April 28, 2010

Response by poster: 6:1: Wow, toothpaste! I have started using a different toothpaste, and the time period fits perfectly. SLS=sodium lauryl sulfate, correct? That will be the first thing I check when I get home. Thanks!

DrDreidel: I haven't tried the towel method, but I do change my pillow every other day, which has to be enough. Besides, it would be happening on other parts of my face as well. Thanks, though!
posted by Lizsterr at 4:13 PM on April 28, 2010

If the toothpaste trick doesn't work, go see a dermatologist. There seem to be two kinds of dermatologists out there:

* Those that think acne (the non-nodular kind that won't leave your face permanently scarred anyway) is a trivial cosmetic matter, not really worthy of medical attention.

* Those that go OMGWTFACNE and treat it as seriously as you want.

You want the latter kind. I'll note that your profile says you're a student. Your University Health Services is unlikely to be helpful, because most such agencies are unlikely to be helpful, but I can't speak for yours. If you don't have a good recommendation to see someone there, I'd look outside.

If nothing else, steroid injections to zap the worst of the zits might help as a short-term remedy.
posted by zachlipton at 4:42 PM on April 28, 2010

This may or may not be helpful for you, but I'm around your age, and last year I started breaking out on my chin and mouth area also. I don't use any skin medication, and I also have a tendency to break out in the days leading up to that time of the month, but this would happen at any time of the month. This happened for a while and was really annoying.

I only wash my face before bed, and I thought maybe that had something to do with it, but I didn't want to wash my face twice a day because I tend towards dry skin. Instead, I started using a toner in the morning, after the shower (I don't wash my face in the shower), and before I apply my cetaphil face lotion. Since I started doing that, it hasn't been a problem anymore. I still get pimples, but they aren't concentrated in that area anymore or anywhere else really. YMMV, and if you wash your face in the morning, you should probably ignore this post.
posted by wondermouse at 4:48 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, that is correct, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This site has a link that lists the different names that it goes by. It may be that your current toothpaste has it and your other didn't, or a different percentage. Or, you've become sensitive to it.

FWIW, I'm now using a toothpaste with it, because of a dental issue. But my dermatologist was the first one that clued me in on the correlation of it and perioral dermatitis.
posted by 6:1 at 4:50 PM on April 28, 2010

Whiteheads, especially if they come out of nowhere and occur in a clump, can sometimes be caused by a mild staph infection in your skin- you can try putting antibacterial cream on it. Bacitracin is said to be the best. It may help, and can't hurt.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2010

nthing the toothpaste!
posted by mdiskin at 7:06 PM on April 28, 2010

If it turns out not to be the toothpaste, don't be afraid to get a little aggressive. I didn't really banish acne until stepping up to a level of product (combination of OTC and prescription) use that would make most people's skin flake and peel just hearing about it. Turned out to be just what my face needed, though. Also, whatever approach you try, stick with it several weeks before gauging its effect.
posted by lakeroon at 8:01 PM on April 28, 2010

I was going to say "toothpaste" too. I'm a little sad I don't get to sound like the psychically clever one. But at least I can add to the choir.

Everyone will tell you to use baking soda, of course. I found baking soda to be completely disgusting. My dentist gave me the go-ahead to brush without toothpaste if I wanted!
posted by ErikaB at 9:17 PM on April 28, 2010

Response by poster: My face is clear other than on my chin/mouth area.

I checked out my toothpaste, and it does have SLS in it. However, so does everything else I use, including my shampoo. I don't usually get breakouts on my forehead (I have bangs), so I doubt it is the SLS that is causing the problem. Maybe just the toothpaste in general? Did anyone have any luck with organic toothpaste?

I agree with lakeroon, I do plan on getting an appointment for a dermatologist. My GP prescribed the Azelex to me, and I'd be willing to try something new.

Thanks peeps!
posted by Lizsterr at 11:27 AM on April 29, 2010

See if the SLS is listed higher up on the list of ingredients than your previous toothpaste. Your current may have a higher concentration. Yes, it is in shampoos. I've never had a problem with my scalp.

You may want to switch toothpastes while you away your dermatologist appt..

Good luck!
posted by 6:1 at 1:55 PM on April 29, 2010

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