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Is your teen breaking out around the mouth?

If they are, one of your first thoughts is likely, “Why is my teen breaking out around their mouth? Is there a link between toothpaste and acne?”

Those are all fantastic questions. As a mother who struggled with her own teens’ acne for years before I became an acne specialist here in Colorado, I had very similar ones! So, without further ado, let’s examine how and why your teen may be breaking out around the mouth area:

Types of Breakouts Around the Mouth

Firstly, let’s talk about the types of breakouts around the mouth your teenager may be experiencing.

The different kinds of acne include:

  • Blackheads, which are open comedones on the surface-level layer of the skin that fill with oil and dead skin, which oxidize and turn black in color. These “bumps” often look brown or black in color and can be hard to the touch.
  • Whiteheads, which are closed “bumps” that are beige or white in color. Like blackheads, whiteheads also contain oil and dead skin cells.
  • Pustules, which look similar to whiteheads, except they contain pus and are typically ringed in red. They are typically soft to the touch and scar easily if picked.
  • Papules, which are small pink or red pimples that are inflamed.
  • Cysts, which are large pus-filled pimples. 
  • Nodules, which are solid and, oftentimes, sizeable “bumps” under the skin that are hard to the touch. Nodules tend to be uncomfortable and painful when touched.
  • Fungal acne, which is triggered when excess yeast develops in the skin’s hair follicles. Fungal acne often takes the form of texture irregularities and can be itchy.

Most commonly, breakouts around the mouth consist of blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, and papules… especially if your teen has sensitive skin!

The Link Between Acne and Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is… well, skin that’s sensitive!

If your teenager has sensitive skin, that means that they are more susceptible to pore-clogging ingredients and general skin inflammation. That means having to keep an eagle-eye out for common comedogenic ingredients found in skin care

Namely, these skin care “red flags” are:

  • Essential oils
  • Isopropyl myristate
  • Isopropyl palmitate 
  • Ethanol
  • Sodium chloride
  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Algae extract
  • …And the dreaded sodium lauryl sulfate

(Before reading on, it’s recommended that you bookmark this blog for future reference! With so much skin care available on the market today, it is a fantastic idea to have a short list of “must-avoid” ingredients on-hand when shopping for your next cleanser, serum, or acne-fighting solution.)

Does Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Cause Acne? The Short Answer is, Yes!

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a foaming agent that is found in most commercial shampoos, mouthwashes, and (you guessed it!) toothpastes. 

It also happens to be a highly comedogenic ingredient!

Because sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent, it is highly irritating to skin and, as such, can quickly lead to blocked hair follicles and chemical reactions. For example, just think about how your teen probably brushes their teeth: eyes glued to their phone, one hand mechanically moving their toothbrush side-to-side… bubbles of toothpaste leaking at the corners of their mouth and, sometimes, even dripping down their chin!

Considering they’re (hopefully!) brushing their teeth upwards of twice a day, that is a lot of time for the irritants in their toothpaste to soak into the skin around their mouth and start wreaking havoc. 

How to Prevent Breakouts Around the Mouth

To prevent toothpaste-related breakouts around the mouth, it’s recommended to:

  • Cleanse your face immediately after brushing your teeth
  • Never apply toothpaste directly to your face and, when brushing, take care to keep toothpaste on your brush
  • Switch to a sulfate-free toothpaste like Sensodyne

When in doubt, it is always recommended to seek the help of a certified acne specialist to ensure that your teen’s skin is getting the care it deserves. Here at Face 5, we offer an Acne Solution Program 101 for clients. In this life-changing program, we offer a 90-day strategy to clear skin through a blend of 100% acne-safe homecare products and expert in-clinic support. 

Contact us today to book your first (or next!) appointment now.