- Acne between the eyebrows can form as a result of excess oil and debris on the skin.
- Pimples that form in the area between the eyebrows can indicate a problem with liver function.
- There are a number of over-the-counter, natural and prescription remedies that can help combat acne between eyebrows.
- Other conditions such as folliculitis and milia can resemble acne between the eyebrows.
Acne breakouts can sometimes form between the eyebrows. These breakouts may be caused by pore-clogging products for skin and hair. Sometimes, acne between the eyebrows indicates an underlying health condition.
What Causes Acne Between Eyebrows?
Acne between the eyebrows appears at the top of the T-zone, the area that spans from the chin to between the eyebrows and across the forehead. Acne that appears between the eyebrows–also known at the glabellar area–is common.
The T-zone produces more oil than any other area of the face. Because of its higher sebum production, it is also more prone to developing blemishes. Inflammatory acne tends to develop most often on the acne prone skin between the eyebrows.
Pimples form between the eyebrows because pores and hair follicles become clogged with oil and debris. The clogged pores become inflamed, resulting in pimples.
Plucking and waxing the eyebrows makes the hair follicles more prone to becoming inflamed and developing acne lesions. Removing hair leaves the follicle vulnerable to not only acne breakouts, but also to ingrown hairs that resemble acne.
There are many other factors that may contribute to acne between the eyebrows. Using comedogenic skin care products, such as oil-based moisturizer, can contribute to acne between the eyebrows. Some hair care products such as serum that are used near the hairline can also cause acne between eyebrows. Health conditions such as a hormonal imbalance or an issue with liver function can also contribute.
Acne that occurs between the eyebrows may be linked to liver health. Face mapping, a Chinese medicine technique, is a technique that is often used to assess overall health based on where acne breakouts occur.
When an individual has acne between the eyebrows, face mapping indicates their liver function could be reduced. When the liver does not work at full capacity as it should, acne may form between the eyebrows.
How to Get Rid of Acne Between the Eyebrows
There are a number of over-the-counter, natural and prescription acne remedies that can treat acne between the eyebrows.
Azelaic acid is a topical acne treatment that is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-keratinizing and rich in antioxidants. It’s prescribed regularly to treat acne vulgaris and helps to smooth and exfoliate skin. This treatment is available in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products, in 15% to 20% concentrations.
Azelaic acid is available for commercial purchase in cream and gel formulations. For people who are pregnant or breast-feeding, azelaic acid is generally considered safe. It is best to consult your doctor or dermatologist before use.
Benzoyl peroxide is an effective, topical treatment for acne that is available in both OTC and prescription formulations. It fights bacteria and inflammation, and is often recommended and prescribed for inflammatory acne.
Benzoyl peroxide reduces excess oil on the skin and helps to clear pores. It is available as a spot treatment or all-over skin treatment, and product concentrations range from 2.5% to 10%. Benzoyl peroxide is known for staining fabric and hair, so use caution when applying it.
Glycolic acid–an alpha-hydroxy acid–can help to exfoliate the skin and encourage healthy cell turnover. It is available OTC in creams, gels, cleansers and face masks.
In addition, it’s possible to get a glycolic acid chemical peel from a professional provider. Professional chemical peels have stronger concentrations of glycolic acid than at-home formulations. Medium to deep chemical peels also require a short recovery period and pain medications may be required after the treatment.
Retinol is available in creams and gels, and is used to treat acne and to rejuvenate the skin. Side effects of retinol tend to occur most often with high concentrations and long-term use.
Rosehip oil is a naturally-derived acne treatment that is available in OTC topical and oral supplement formulations. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to moisturize the skin. Rosehip oil is generally considered safe to use for all skin types and is associated with few side effects.
People who are allergic to sulfa drugs should not use sulfacetamide.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil and a common natural remedy for acne and other skin conditions. It is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, and has been proven to effectively treat acne lesions.
All essential oils such as tea tree should be diluted with a carrier oil before use. Although there are no severe side effects associated with tea tree, it may cause some mild side effects such as itching, dryness, burning, swelling and redness in some people. Tea tree oil should never be ingested.
Preventing Acne Between the Eyebrows
In addition to using topical medications and supplements to treat acne between the eyebrows, it’s possible to reduce or prevent breakouts in this area. Here are a few tips for preventing acne between eyebrows:
- Do not squeeze or pop pimples between your eyebrows
- Avoid plucking, waxing and threading eyebrows – use a small brow trimmer to shave instead
- Avoid touching your face
- If you wear bangs, consider growing them out or pinning them back–natural oil and hair products can contribute to breakouts
If prevention steps and OTC acne remedies don’t help reduce or eliminate breakouts between the eyebrows, your dermatologist may need to prescribe stronger prescription acne medication.
Professional Treatment Options
For severe acne between the eyebrows, your dermatologist or doctor can prescribe or recommend professional treatment options. Some of these may include:
- Light therapy, which uses specific wavelengths of LED light to address acne-causing bacteria and inflammation
- Oral or topical antibiotics, which fight acne-causing bacteria
- Oral contraceptive medication, which regulates hormones and controls acne
- Prescription acne medications such as isotretinoin, which encourages cell turnover and is only used in severe cases that don’t respond to other treatments
- Prescription retinoid cream, which encourages healthy cell turnover and rejuvenates skin
- Professional chemical peels, which remove damaged skin cells and encourage new skin cell growth
- Surgical treatment of severe cystic acne lesions, including draining and removal
- Steroid shots, which combat inflammation associated with severe acne
Other Bumps That Appear Between the Eyebrows
Besides acne, there are other causes for bumps that appear between the eyebrows. These can be caused by clogged hair follicles, a buildup of excess keratin in the pores, and more.
Folliculitis–or the inflammation of hair follicles–occurs when you pluck or wax body hair. Removing eyebrows at the root can cause folliculitis, which may look like pimples. Instead, consider shaving or using a small, battery-powered trimmer.
Keratosis pilaris occurs when dead skin cells build up in hair follicles, causing small, hard bumps on the skin. Although it appears on the upper arms most often, it can sometimes appear on the face, including between the eyebrows.
Milia are small, white bumps under the skin that are also caused by excess keratin buildup in the pores. They appear on the face more often than keratosis pilaris and are harmless.
Seborrheic dermatitis causes pustules, bumps, redness, scaling and flaking skin. It is similar to dandruff and is thought to be caused by a fungal infection, though the exact cause is unclear.
It’s possible to treat and prevent acne between the eyebrows. OTC treatments such as azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, retinol, rosehip oil and tea tree oil may help combat these breakouts. If you need a stronger medication or procedure, your dermatologist may prescribe medication or recommend treatments such as chemical peels or laser therapy.
Several skin conditions can mimic acne between the eyebrows, including folliculitis, keratosis pilaris, milia and seborrheic dermatitis. If acne treatments aren’t effective, see your dermatologist for diagnosis and the appropriate next steps.
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