Acne Around My Mouth

iImage by, courtesy of Nicole Makauskas

Acne around the mouth can be especially irritating. Every time you smile, eat or speak, you're reminded of your recent breakout, which can lower self-esteem and the ability to actively engage in the world. But with treatment and care for your specific condition, you can get rid of acne around the mouth with a persistent plan.

Acne Types

Acne comes in a variety of forms. When it appears around the mouth, however, it usually falls under the more minor acne types of whiteheads and blackheads. Whiteheads are characterized by a white spot filled with pus. Blackheads are black in the center due to a buildup of oil, dead skin cells and pigment cells. These blemishes can cluster around the mouth and make it cumbersome or even painful to move your lips. Other more serious forms of acne include papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. All have some level of inflammation, pus and deeply-rooted irritation.


Having too oily skin or skin that doesn't slough off dead skin cells is usually the cause of most acne. However, acne around the mouth can occur for other reasons, such as leaning your face in your hands when resting, sleeping on dirty pillowcases, eating spicy foods that cause skin irritation or wearing lip balm, lipstick or other makeup that clogs your pores.


In some cases, acne around the mouth isn't acne at all. It might be a rash called perorial dermatitis, which occurs when your mouth is exposed to something you're allergic to or your body finds irritating. This rash is made up of tiny blisters that might be slightly red in appearance, making them easy to confuse with acne. Often, a sign that this mouth rash isn't acne is that it's very itchy.


Treating acne around your mouth is like treating acne on any other part of your face, but be careful when applying creams and cleansers that contain harsh ingredients around your mouth. Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and even sulfur could irritate your lips and mucus membranes if applied too closely to your lips, so only treat your skin and test new treatments on a small area before applying them to the entire mouth region.


Take special care not to touch your face excessively and be delicate to your skin by using products that won't clog your pores, irritate your skin or contain harsh ingredients and fragrances. Change your pillowcases every few days, and avoid scarves and turtlenecks, which might irritate your mouth. Avoid any foods you have discovered to trigger breakouts.