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Mapping Acne Breakouts

If you suffer from acne, you may feel like there’s no rhyme or reason to where breakouts occur. However, different areas of the face may be more susceptible to breakouts than others. The skin does not act in isolation from the rest of the body; in fact, what surfaces on the skin is often a direct reflection of what’s going on inside the body.

The forehead, nose and chin (known as the t-zone) are often oilier than the rest of the face and more apt to develop pimples, blackheads and clogged pores, whereas the skin around the eyes lacks oil glands and therefore is less breakout-prone.

The American Academy of Dermatology cites hormonal factors as primary causes of adult acne, especially in women. The chin, jaw and neck are typically more susceptible to these hormonally charged breakouts, which occur when the production of male hormones called androgens cause an increase in sebum and/or p. acnes bacteria. These fluctuations often occur during menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.

Many skin care professionals also support the connection between the foods we consume and their effect on our skin. Certain foods like meat, milk and other dairy products contain hormones that are thought to increase inflammation in the skin. In fact, recent studies confirm the role of dairy products in cases of hormonal acne.

If breakouts appear primarily on the lower half of your face, try switching to organic dairy products, which contain fewer artificial hormones; even better, reduce the amount of dairy products in your diet.

Alternative forms of medicine rely on a traditional face mapping technique to determine the source of many medical conditions, including acne. According to this system, the face is divided into regions that are affected by various dietary and lifestyle habits.

For example, eating fresh fruits and vegetables may alleviate breakouts around the lips, while acne on the cheeks can be improved through the inclusion of “cooling foods” such as winter melons, cucumbers and green beans in the diet. Other regions of the face, like the forehead, are purportedly affected by improper sleeping habits or sluggish digestion.

Often, basic changes in daily habits can improve breakouts in certain areas of the face. For instance, if you tend to break out on your forehead, consider the fact that comedogenic hair products may be clogging pores when hair touches the skin.

Cell phones or headsets—along with your hands—can easily transfer bacteria to your face. If you are prone to breakouts on the side of your face or around the chin, clean your phone with rubbing alcohol regularly and avoid touching your face or resting your face in your hands.

When in doubt, analyze the source of breakouts with guidance from your doctor—severe or persistent breakouts are best left to a dermatologist or skin care professional.