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What Does It Mean to Have Cheek Acne?

Medically reviewed by Sue Kua, MD · Dermatology

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

    What Does It Mean to Have Cheek Acne?

    Normally, dirt and other skin irritants cause acne breakouts. But, some would also consider a person’s diet and lifestyle affecting these flare-ups. With these in mind, what makes acne on your forehead different from the ones on your cheeks? What factors do affect your recurring cheek acne? And what does it tell you about your lifestyle and practices? Find out here. 

    Acne, its Different Types, and Importance of Face-Mapping

    Acne is a skin condition that is not anything new or different to people. Regardless of whether it is back acne or cheek acne, acne occurs due to the blockage of hair follicles beneath the skin. It may display itself in forms such as:

    • Open and close comedones (blackheads and whiteheads)
    • Small, painful pink lesions
    • Pus-filled lesions that are white or yellow in color with a tinge of red at the base
    • Huge, painful deep-seated solid nodules that are huge and painful.
    • Deep, painful, pus-filled sores

    Many may have had these on different parts of the face, as well as other parts of their body. And now, it is coming back to haunt them. This then makes you concerned even more about what could it mean. Science says there is a reason behind it. 

    Several dermatologists take into account the location of acne on your face. They say that it is a good indicator of what factors contribute to its appearance and how you can treat it. However, there is little to no evidence yet on how acne breakouts on the face can affect different organs or on health.

    What Does It Mean to Have Cheek Acne

    Acne mechanica, or frictional acne, refers to the development of acne due to friction. Rubbing the skin and coming into contact with another thing that could potentially be dirty can cause cheek acne.

    The most common situation is when a person holds the phone against their face. New research for Global Handwashing Day reveals that phones get contaminated with fecal matter. People have the tendency to neglect proper handwashing with soap after using the restroom. Moreover, phones come in contact with all kinds of surfaces when you put them down, thus spreading dirt and bacteria.

    Dermatologist Dr. Charles Lynde also adds that a person who is always on one side of their (either left or right) is most likely to have more acne in that area. For instance, if you are answering your phone on your right side, you may develop persistent acne on this side.

    Furthermore, there is another thing called acne cosmetica. Dermatologist Dr. Lauren Kole shares how cheek acne may show up when makeup products come in contact with the face. Some products may be irritating for other people, causing inflammation on parts where you put them.

    Other causes of cheek acne are:

    • Dirty pillowcases and bedsheets
    • Excessive face touching
    • Improper shaving technique
    • Hormonal imbalances

    And, due to the pandemic, maskne has become more common. Maskne can not only cause breakouts but also skin irritations especially to people who already have skin issues. This is because wearing a mask can cause buildup of microorganisms, dead skin, sweat, oil and friction on the covered area.

    The wrong choice of skincare products can also affect the flare-ups of acne all over your face. 

    What Can You Do to Treat Cheek Acne?

    You can treat cheek acne by following through these easy tips:

    • Wash your face twice a day with a gentle and alcohol-free cleanser. Make sure to also wash your face after sweating or working out as it can worsen the acne situation.
    • Disinfect your phone every so often to prevent spreading the bacteria.
    • Change your pillowcases, sheets, and blankets at least once a week.
    • Avoid touching your face when a new pimple pops in. Rather, treat it accordingly with products and healthy practices. You may also let it heal naturally.
    • Choose skincare products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic.
    • Exfoliate your face with a gentle scrub at least once a week.
    • Wash your makeup brushes regularly. Do not share your makeup with anyone as it can easily get contaminated. Treat them like how you treat your toothbrush as a hygienic product. 
    • Use lukewarm water when rinsing your face. Hot water may strip down the natural oils and moisture your skin also needs. 
    • Wash cloth masks using gentle detergents.
    • Give your skin a break and remove your mask at least 15 minutes every 240 minutes. Bring an extra disposable mask and dispose of the disposable mask properly.
    • Use a mask not made of synthetic cloths.
    • Clean your hands before and after putting on the mask.

    Key Takeaway

    Whether you have dry, combination, or oily skin, cheek acne is usually a result of your surroundings and how your skin comes in contact with other factors. 

    Acne usually improves when the cause of friction against the skin is addressed.

    Learn more about Acne here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Sue Kua, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

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