What causes acne breakouts to be only around my cheek areas?

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may i ask what are the few reasons that may have caused my acne breakout to be only around my cheeks area? is it because of diet or the skincare/makeup i’m using?

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euniceH unselected answer January 3, 2018

Hi shi_yinggg,

Acne affects any part of the face, chest/back area where there is oil production, something that occurs after puberty kicks in and hormone secretion, namely testosterone ( both males and females) starts. Most people tend to produce oil over the entire face, while some people complain of an oily T-zone area. Nevertheless, the cheeks are an area where sebaceous glands are active and hence is also susceptible to pimples. However, if you have more than 3-5 pimple outbreaks a month or have been struggling with this for more than a few months, you may have a case of moderate to severe acne that should be treated with medications. Patients with acne rosacea, which is a distinct skin condition from acne, may find they have more red bumps or pimples over the cheek area on top of having a red, flushed face, worsening due to heat, hot foods and emotion. Do read more about these conditions here, and seek the help of an accredited dermatologist if you are troubled.

The main causes of acne- genetics, inflammation, bacteria, oil and hormones are reviewed in the video. Diet does not play a major role although some small studies have shown a correlation between taking chocolate and dairy products and worsened acne in patients who are already acne-prone. Makeup in the modern cosmetic industry should not cause acne, as opposed to in the past, because cosmetic companies now know to test that makeup products are “non-comedogenic”, i.e. do not cause breakouts due to the occlusive properties of certain oils or waxes, a condition known as “acne cosmetica”, when in doubt, look for the “non-comedogenic” label. The cleansers used to remove makeup is more problematic than the makeup itself. Most foaming cosmetic skin cleansers are heavily sodium-laureth sulfate( SLS) based,  which can strip skin of natural protective lipid(fatty acids)barrier while removing makeup. Specialised make-up removers are otherwise mineral oil based( depending on the quality and origin of such oils, can cause comedone formation).An ineffective cleanser may lead the user to apply large amounts of the product in an attempt to get rid of the makeup and this can further irritate acne-prone skin, causing facial eczema which presents as redness and flaking. If you have recent episode of sensitive skin, I would recommend first stopping all makeup and cosmetic brand cleansers for a while, switch to a gentle dermatologist-recommended cleanser which can be a generic pharmacy brand like a gentle sensitive skin cleanser or a cosmeceutical skin cleanser with additional skin regenerating, soothing and calming benefits.  The difference with dermatologist-recommended cleansers lies in that they contain much lower concentrations of traditional cheap lathering agents like SLS or ammonium laureth sulfates and are designed to respect the skin natural protective barrier.


Dr. Teo Wan Lin


TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre

euniceH unselected as best answer January 3, 2018
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