Zap Your Zits, No Matter Where They Are

Acne always seems to pop up when you least expect it — in the last place you ever wanted it to be. Whether it's your forehead, your back, or even inside your ear (yep, we get those too), these pesky flareups can be a pain in the butt to deal with. But, before you start slathering on every and any product you can get your hands on, heed this warning: Not all acne should be treated equally.
Placement on your bod has a lot to do with how you go about ridding yourself of acne — for good. What’s the solution? We talked to Dr. Craig Kraffert, board certified dermatologist and founder of Amarte, about zapping zits based on where they pop up. With these tips, you can launch a full-scale attack that will work instead of just trying 100 things that don’t. So, you can be zit-free without a headache, which is pretty much the holy grail of beauty tips.
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Forehead
“Treating acne here really has to do with the severity of the acne,” Kraffert says. The flare ups you see here can range from blackheads, to red bumps, to pustules, to huge goose egg-like nodules. But, for the most part, you’ll be dealing with moderate acne, which forms when the pilosebaceous glands get clogged, but still continue to produce oil.

When it comes to this type of acne on your forehead, cleansing and retinoids are your best bet. “A lot of people will start scrubbing their foreheads aggressively, which will only aggravate the problem,” he says. Instead, a gentle cleanser coupled with rentinoids are a dynamic duo. “The most important tip is to continue to use these, even after the acne clears,” Kraffert says. “Otherwise, it will likely come back.”
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Nose
The fact that you can’t seem to clear up your nose doesn’t mean you’re nuts — Kraffert says that these guys are notoriously difficult to get spot-free. “This is where there is the densest population of large oil glands,” he explains. “That’s why they tend to get inflamed so easily.

While you can double down on your retinoids and use them twice a day on your nose (if you don’t have ultra-sensitive skin, that is), Kraffert says that the best course of action is prescribed medication. Doxycycline and tetracycline are the two most commonly prescribed medications for these issues, but talk to your doctor if you’re interested in learning more.. “The good thing about antibiotics is that they don’t have to be used constantly,” Kraffert says. “You can take them during a flare up and then discontinue them once it subsides.” So, you don't have to freak about being on medication 24/7, which is a nice perk.
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Chin
You can thank your hormones and your mother for that big honker on your chin. “Most acne in this area is hormonal and genetic,” Kraffert says. “And, the truth of the matter is, oral contraceptives that are prescribed for acne control don’t always work well.” Instead, reach for your retinoids and gentle cleansers to rid the acne, and continue to use them even after your zits have cleared.

If what you’re seeing around your chin doesn’t resemble traditional acne, though, it could be something completely different. “Perioral dermatitis is a condition that women get that isn’t acne or rosacea” Kraffert says. “It’s a rosacea-like condition that doesn’t respond to acne treatments.” Perioral dermatitis looks like acne flares, but are flatter and show up around your mouth and nose. If you feel like this is what you may have, talk to your dermatologist about treatment options. Kraffert says that tetracycline is typically what clears it up.
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Cheeks
Zits on your cheeks aren’t super common on ladies, and they can be treated like forehead acne. But, with men, they’re a lot more prevalent. “Oil glands become hair follicles, and men grow a lot of hair around their cheeks,” Kraffert says. Since there is a lot going on within these glands, it’s easier for them to get clogged. But, cleansing and retinoids should clear them up quickly.
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Ears
Yes, folks. We all get zits burrowed in our ears sometimes. “This is something I’ve seen for years,” Kraffert says. There isn’t really a reason why they happen — they’re just one of those pesky issues that pop up to make our lives hell. But, treatment is totally possible. “Reach for your topicals, like a retinoid, to help clear up the issue,” Kraffert says.
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Back & Chest
“There are very interesting issues with your chest and back,” Kraffert says. “The areas that tend to get inflamed cover such a wide area, that topical treatments don’t tend to get the job done.” There’s also the pesky issue of benzoyl peroxide bleaching your clothes — not practical on your back or chest.

Although it tends to be controversial, an antibiotic like Accutane may be your best course of action. “When doctors think about prescribing Accutane, they take into consideration how widespread an area the breakouts cover,” Kraffert says. “Since acne on the back and chest covers such a wide surface area, Accutane is actually extremely effective.” But, if you aren’t 100% comfortable or convinced when it comes to Accutane, talk to your dermatologist. Other options are limited, but they are out there.

If Accutane seems a little too hardcore for you, there are plenty of over-the-counter, non-spot treatments, like a body wash with salicylic acid, that can help clear you up. The important thing to remember is to continue using these even when you don't have spots, and always wash the area immediately after a good sweat session.
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Butt
Here’s a newsflash: Booty bumps aren’t typically acne. “They actually tend to be a condition called keratosis pillaris, which is when the protein keratin clogs your hair follicles,” Kraffert says. That’s a bummer for anyone hoping to rid your bum of acne because keratosis pillars isn’t that easy to treat. Kraffert says a medicated moisturizer that has beta hydroxy in it can help. “Glycolic and lactic acids are also good for issues like this,” Kraffert says.

He also notes that Accutane and other antibiotics don’t cure keratosis pillaris. “There isn’t a ‘cure’ for it,” he says. “It’s a totally unmet medical need, which is something we’re hoping changes.”
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