It happens to the best of us: dealing with blemishes around your smile can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and unhealthy. When pimples pop up around your grin, it can be difficult to determine their source and what you should do about them. Fortunately, Dr. Craig Armstrong and our Houston dental team are here to help you with any and every oral health problem, including mouth acne. Knowing more about this condition can help you prevent and treat it. In the following blog, we explain what causes mouth acne and how you can get rid of it.
To pulverize mouth pimples, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of acne in general. Mayo Clinic provides a basic definition: “Acne occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells.” This mechanism creates the swelling, discoloration, itchiness, and other assorted symptoms we’re all familiar with (and try to avoid).
What Causes Mouth Acne?
There are a variety of reasons the follicles around your mouth might become clogged. A few of the most common culprits include:
- Cosmetics. The wrong foundation, cover-up, or lip products can stop up your pores. Facing Acne highlights “overuse of lip balm, especially scented and flavored lip balm” as a key contributor to mouth acne. The oil in these products can stop up your follicles. Added ingredients to make them smell or taste a certain way can also irritate the skin around your smile.
- Toothpaste! That’s right: toothpaste. While of course you must brush your teeth, using the wrong products could lead to breakouts. Facing Acne explains: “toothpastes that contain sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) [a sudsing agent…to give the product a foaming action] can also cause acne around the mouth.” The bubbles created by SLS “can force tiny cracks in the skin,” making your pores vulnerable.
- Diet. In her Cosmopolitan article, “What Your Pimples Say About Your Health,” Elizabeth Narins describes: “residue from acidic foods (think lemon and vinegar-based dressings) can irritate your skin and cause inflammation, while the greasy remnants of fried foods (like chips, fries, and basically every other delicious food) can physically block your pores. Either way, the result is the same: gnarly looking zits around your lips.” These not-so-follicle-friendly foods can also wreak havoc on your teeth—acidic substances can wear down your enamel, while greasy foods leave behind debris for bacteria to feast on.
- Other issues. Of course, in some cases, mouth acne, like all acne, can be a holistic, systemic concern. Adult Acne points out: “in 90 percent of [adult acne] sufferers, such acne can be attributed to the wrong cosmetic products…in the remaining 10 percent of sufferers, acne around the mouth and chin region can be attributed to hormones, stress, and other health conditions.”
The good news is that most of the time, mouth acne is completely avoidable, as long as you practice good oral and facial hygiene.
Clearing Up Your Smile
Are you ready to get rid of mouth acne? To unclog your follicles and beautify your smile, we recommend that you:
- Remove your makeup every night before makeup. Adult Acne notes: “women who tend to sleep with their makeup on are more likely to suffer from [mouth] acne.”
- Use a toothpaste free of excessive fragrances, flavors, additives, and chemicals such as SLS.
- Wash your mouth regularly, particularly after consuming acidic or greasy foods. Narins advises: “use a facial cleansing wipe to remove invisible irritants around your mouth after you eat.”
- Eat a healthy diet, use high-quality cleansers, and generally take care of yourself. Improving your general well-being can help handle hormonal or other systemic causes of acne. In some cases, seeing a dermatologist or another qualified health professional may be appropriate, as well.
- Come and see us for your biannual cleaning and examination appointments! As part of your general dental health checkup, we can make recommendations to help you clear up your mouth acne.
Contact Our Houston Dental Practice Today
Are you ready to take charge of your oral health and improve your smile? Contact us today to find out more and schedule your next appointment with Dr. Armstrong.