Subclinical Acne: How To Safely Prevent And Treat Forehead Bumps

How To Get Safely Rid Of Those Pesky Forehead Pimples

June 8, 2020 Updated September 29, 2020

subclinical acne
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You wake up feeling fresh as a daisy only to discover small bumps on your forehead. WTF?! Acne is annoying enough, but having acne on your forehead where it’s front and center is even more frustrating. Spotting bumps on your forehead is pretty common when it comes to pimples and often as common as blackheads on your nose. While there are obvious reasons why your forehead might be the perfect spot for a zit (your oily T-zone being one of them) there is another reason why you might be experiencing blemishes up there: subclinical acne. So what are these tiny bumps on your forehead and how can you get rid of them? Here’s the gist on that.

What is subclinical acne?

While there are many shapes and forms of acne, those bumps on your forehead are probably a result of subclinical acne. Subclinical acne is just a fancy term for something that means, essentially, a baby pimple. A pre-pimple, if you prefer. It’s also known as a closed comedone. These pre-pimples pretty much remain the same. Instead of becoming inflamed and/or forming a whitehead, these zits only cause visible texture (a.k.a. those bumps on your forehead) and remain flesh-colored with no apparent head. Another thing to know about subclinical acne? While ugly and annoying, the bumps are shallow and superficial. Meaning? They’ll be easier to treat than, say, a pustule or a cyst. And while they’re definitely a precursor to a full-blown breakout, they’re not sore or tender to touch, which, at this point, counts for something.

What causes subclinical acne?

Dirt and dead skin cells can result in subclinical acne, as can hormones and genetics. Which means your forehead bumps could be caused by a range of things, including your refusal to wash your face thoroughly after a workout or the oily T-zone you inherited from your dad.

How to treat subclinical acne 

So how do you get rid of these forehead bumps? Unfortunately, because it results in closed pores, subclinical acne is a little tricky to treat. Why? Well, for example, blackheads are open comedones, which means they can be extracted by your dermatologist and topical treatments can actually dissolve into them faster. While subclinical acne is harder to treat, it’s definitely not impossible. To help treat these bumps, it’s better to understand what they are: a clogged pore. What clogs up a pore? A collection of sebum (excess oil) and dead skin cells, and sometimes bacteria gets in there too.

One way to help treat your bumps is with an oil-based cleanser. Oil with oil? Yes. Stripping your skin with astringents and harsh cleansers will only dry out your skin, which might lead to additional breakouts. When you apply a cleansing oil into the skin, it grabs onto any excess oils and works to soften congestion, a.k.a. the texture of your skin, over time.

Exfoliation is another treatment that you might want to try. Instead of grabbing any store-bought facial scrub, it’s better to choose products that include ingredients like salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acid, which help to loosen the bonds between skin cells. This makes it easier for the cells to get rid of old skin rather than it just hanging around like a bad smell and clogging the pore. Exfoliant products that work well with subclinical acne include toners, washes or creams, or gels.

How to prevent subclinical acne 

While you can definitely treat the pimples you have now, it’s also a good idea to prevent acne altogether. After all, who wants to go through the stress of treating it over and over again? A consistent and thorough skincare routine is key.

It’s a good idea to cleanse your skin twice a day — morning and night — with a gentle cleanser. You’ll also want to start buying skincare products that are labeled as “non-comedogenic.” This includes everything from your sunscreen to your makeup to your moisturizers. You’ll also want to work regularly with products that contain benzoyl peroxide to treat and prevent blocked pores. If you consistently have subclinical acne, then you should also ask for a prescription from your dermatologist who might write you a script for retinoid creams. An example of a prescription retinoid, Tretinoin, is the active ingredient in acne topicals such as Retin-A. These types of products will help minimize the formation of clogged pores. Remember: skip retinoids if you’re pregnant or nursing.

It’s not typically necessary to visit a dermatologist over subclinical acne, however, if you tend to get those bumps on your forehead more often than not, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor to discuss your skincare routine, hormones, or any other lifestyle stressor or habit that might be contributing to your zits.

Is subclinical acne hormonal?

Not all acne is caused by the same root issue, but often hormones play a major role. Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like, acne caused by the fluctuating hormones in our bodies. For women, this is often tied directly to the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during a woman’s cycle. Per Self, the five top ways to tell whether acne is caused by fluctuating hormones are:

— You’re getting acne and breakouts as an adult and are no longer an adolescent

— Your acne appears in the around your chin and along your jawline

— You can practically time your breakouts with your menstrual cycle

— You’re experiencing stress

— You have painful cysts and not merely blackheads and whiteheads

Again, no matter what you do it’s important to remember you are not on your own episode of Dr. Pimple Popper and should keep your fingers or extraction tool away from your skin. If a cyst is painful to the touch and stays behind beyond your menstrual cycle you can pay a visit to your dermatologist who can advise you on your best course of action as far as cleansers and treatment.

Speaking of Dr. Pimple Popper, aka Dr. Sandra Lee, the TV personality and board certified dermatologist spoke with SheKnows‘ Elizabeth Yuko to talk all things skin and acne. Here’s what she had to say about causes of acne that the lay person may not know about: “When it comes to acne, there are a lot of factors that can cause us to break out beyond simply not washing our face. Genetics, hormones, sweat and even certain hair care products can cause breakouts on the face. Every case of acne is different and usually has more than one of these factors involved.”