What Your Breakouts Say About Your Health Based On Where They Pop Up

Ever notice that you’re breaking out in certain areas of your face more often than others? Us too, so we wanted to get to the bottom of it by “facial mapping”, studying the location of blemishes on the face and why they’re occurring. Danae Markland, aesthetician and Vice President of Business Development for PCA SKIN, says that the ancient Chinese tradition has long correlated the placement of these breakouts with the different organ systems throughout the body. While historic in its age, facial mapping is more common than you think. New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD, says that her practice employs facial mapping before every skin treatment to better assess every patient’s need beforehand. Translation: your breakouts may have a deeper meaning. Here, the most common places breakouts occur, what they mean, and how to keep them from happening. 

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Location: Nose

While you probably could have guessed, your nose is linked to your heart and lungs. Breakouts here can be an indication of high blood pressure, but Dr. Russak adds that blackheads in this area are normal due to an abundance of oil glands. If you have a full-on breakout and white heads that just won’t quit, it could be a sign of something more serious.

How to treat it:

“Avoid energy drinks, reduce your salt intake and eat more fruits and vegetables to promote better heart health and low blood pressure,” says Markland. To clear up pesky blackheads, Washington, DC, dermatologist Rebecca Kazin, MD, suggests a light chemical peel with salicylic or glycolic acid along with retinoids to keep the area clean. We like PCA Skin's BPO 5% Cleanser ($36) for a gentle yet effective wash. 


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Location: Between the brows

Breakouts in between your peepers usually mean that you’re drinking (or smoking) too much and eating too many fatty foods. Markland explains that this area can be irritated because of poor circulation, gallbladder problems, diets to high in fat and processed foods or heavy alcohol consumption alike. Dr. Kazin adds that breakouts here can also be due to over-plucking, which can lead to ingrown hairs and irritation.

How to treat it: 

A significant amount of water every day is key here, as well as watching your diet and hygiene. Focus on cutting down on foods like butter and cheese while being mindful of all those late night snacks. 


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Location: Cheeks

While hormonal imbalances, high sugar consumption and some spleen issues can be the reason for breakouts on your cheeks, the experts say germs are also a huge reason why. “Be aware of how close you’re holding your cell phone to your face,” Dr. Russak warns, explaining that the screen accumulates oil and makeup from pressing onto our faces. Markland also says that laying on dirty pillowcases and using dirty makeup brushes can also instigate a breakout in this region.

How to treat it: 

Always be sure to clean and swap your pillowcases on a normal basis, wipe your phone screens down thoroughly and don’t forget to wash your makeup brushes as often as you can. Dr. Kazin says to notice if you’re breaking out more on one specific cheek rather than the other and go from there. “Do you hold your phone on that side, sleep on that side, or hold your head on that side? These are all ways your pores can be clogging on that specific side.”


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Location: Chin

There’s a reason you tend to see more blemishes pop up when you’re about to start your period. Dr. Kazin says that breakouts in the jaw and chin area are commonly because of hormonal acne. “The chin is linked to the small intestine, so diet changes can make a huge difference,” says Markland.

How to treat it: 

According to Markland, staying away from dairy and oily meals will help this area clear up while keeping digestion running smoothly. Dr. Kazin says that she usually prescribes Spironolactone for hormonal acne to prevent hormones from binding to the oil glands. 


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Location: Around the mouth

“Acne here can be caused by constipation, an excess of spicy or fried foods and a reaction to a certain toothpaste,” Markland explains. However, Dr. Russak also says that this could be perioral dermatitis, a rash—typically small red or pink lumpy spots—around the mouth that can be triggered by hormonal changes, beauty products or bacteria.

How to treat it: 

According to Markland, an increased intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables—as well as easing up on all the spice—can help here. As for the dermatitis, always using clean makeup brushes and reaching for good-for-your-skin makeup products made with organic ingredients can help clear it up.


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Location: Above the brows

The area above your brows is linked to your gallbladder and liver. “Forehead breakouts are usually linked to digestive system issues,” says Dr. Russak. “This can be an indication of food intolerance or an overburdened liver.” Markland adds that toxins and lack of water are familiar culprits to blemishes in this area.

How to treat it: 

“Be sure to consume the daily suggested amount of water so the toxins are flushed out of your system, get at least seven hours of sleep, check if your facial or hair products are irritating your skin (especially if you have bangs) and exercise regularly to improve metabolism,” says Markland. Also, don’t forget to check your diet and get rid of any over processed foods that aren’t doing your skin any favors. 


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