Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Mary Francis Garcia

Having acne in one of the most obvious places (your face) is not ideal in any situation. Thankfully, there are simple methods that can be  incorporated into your daily life to reduce the severity and keep your skin looking and feeling great.

What is cheek acne?

Cheek acne is exactly what it sounds like: acne that appears on your cheeks. Acne is a blanket term for the small bumps that can appear on your skin as a result of hair follicles becoming clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They may appear in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, and/or pimples.

Face mapping, an ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic technique associates acne placement on your face with different outcomes. While acne may not be indicative of all health and lifestyle factors, it can provide some insight. For instance, having acne on your cheeks may be a sign of poor hygiene (i.e. not changing your pillowcase or cleaning your makeup brushes). With that being said, face mapping should be taken with a grain of salt, as acne often has numerous causes regardless of where it appears on your skin.

Face Map of Acne

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What does cheek acne look like?

Cheek acne looks just like acne elsewhere. It can be whiteheads, blackheads or pustules and papules. Each person is different and manifests acne in different ways and in different areas.

What causes cheek acne?

The big question is: what causes acne on our cheeks? Typically it’s caused by oil accumulating inside pores, which makes acne more visible and increases inflammation. This build-up of oils is often due to many different factors including the use of pore-clogging skincare products or dirty makeup brushes. Cheek acne may be due to one or more of the following: makeup, your phone spreading bacteria, dirty pillowcases, touching your face, or hormonal changes. The good news is there are several steps you can take to prevent it or reduce the severity of your cheek acne. See a doctor to get your acne treated.

Your phone spreads bacteria

Your phone spends time in many different places, which ultimately leads to the collection of bacteria. While this alone is not a big deal, it becomes a potential issue when we touch our phone and then touch our face or worse, put our phone directly up to our ear. Unless you’re disinfecting your phone screen 24/7, it’s likely that at least some bacteria is getting transferred to your face. This could in turn lead to clogged pores, which ultimately causes or worsens acne.

Dirty pillowcases & sheets

Pillowcases and sheets collect bacteria even though they typically remain in one place. Furthermore, it’s possible to irritate your skin while sleeping, especially if you constantly rub your face against the pillow—it happens to the best of us!

Touching your face

It’s impossible to go about your day without touching different surfaces—your keyboard, steering wheel, credit card… and that’s just to name a few. And while it might sound like an easy task to avoid touching your face, it’s not always possible. The transfer of oil and bacteria from your hands to your face can create new blemishes or worsen existing acne.

Related content: Best Birth Control for Acne

Poor skincare routine

What we put into our body can greatly impact how we look and feel. More specifically, using skincare products that contain harsh chemicals or even rubbing your face too hard can lead to irritation on your skin. On the other hand, not washing your face enough can be problematic, as oil and bacteria build up in the pores, which can lead to acne if not removed.

Hormonal changes

There are hormones in your body called androgens, which fluctuate quite a bit (especially for women). The release of androgens stimulates the sebaceous glands, causing the production of sebum (oil). Oily skin can lead to acne, as it’s a perfect environment for bacteria growth.

Best Way to Get Rid of Acne

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How to prevent acne on your cheeks?

Thankfully, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the severity of acne or prevent it altogether. In order to keep your skin healthy, try the following tips:

Wipe down your phone before each use

While this may seem like a hassle, disinfecting your phone screen (especially before putting it up to your face) can reduce your risk of developing acne. The cleaner your phone screen, the less likely you are to transfer bacteria to your face.

Don’t bring your phone with you to the bathroom

It’s no secret that the bathroom is one of the germiest places. Between flushing the toilet and touching the faucet, your hands come into contact with many potentially bacteria-filled surfaces. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to leave your phone out of the bathroom or keep it in a closed bag if need be.

Related content: What are Oral Antibiotics for Acne?

Swap out your pillowcase at least once a week

Even if you go to bed with a clean face, it’s impossible to keep bacteria from getting on the pillowcase and eventually transferring to your skin. If washing your pillowcase weekly isn’t feasible, keep an extra on hand to swap out.

Wash your hands regularly

In general, washing your hands usually can’t hurt. This prevents the spread of germs not only to your face but also to surfaces you touch. Make sure to use soap, as water alone is not as effective at killing bacteria.

Adjust your skincare routine

Some skincare products can irritate the skin. If you notice that your current routine is causing discomfort or simply not working, switch it up. While you typically can’t go wrong with gentle, unscented soap and warm water, you may need additional treatment if your acne is severe. In this case, it’s necessary to consult a doctor, so they can assist you in finding a routine that best meets your needs.

Talk to your doctor about birth control

Birth control alone should not be used for acne treatment, but it may help clear up your skin when used in combination with other treatments.


will my acne ever go away


How to treat cheek acne

Understanding what causes acne is just the start of the solution. But how can you really treat acne efficiently? The answer is easy, you need to find a personalized acne treatment. You can start, if not have already tried, by using some pimple-fighting product that has salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as one of the main active ingredients. You can find skincare products with these ingredients at many grocery stores or pharmacies, and no prescription is needed. Nevertheless, if you already tried some lifestyle changes and new skincare routines, and nothing worked out, we recommend consulting with a doctor. When it comes to acne, it is important to have a doctor who specializes in acne care to treat your skin needs and help you find the best treatment that your skin responds to.

Clinically Proven Acne Treatment

Getting clearer skin has never been this easy! Pandia Health now offers online consultations for acne. Our expert doctors will find the best acne treatment that fits your personal needs and health history to help you say bye-bye to your cheek acne! We offer topical treatments and oral acne treatments (for those who struggle a bit more getting rid of acne). We do not prescribe accutane, though. You need to see a dermatologist for that.

Safe, easy and convenient! Sign up for an online consultation, fill out our health questionnaire, provide all the information requested; then, one of our doctors will assess your health history to find the best treatment for your acne. The consultation is only $35 and we offer FREE delivery for your medication. Yup! Straight to your mailbox, no need to waste time going to the pharmacy and waiting in long lines. Get the best acne treatment for your cheek acne today from the comfort of wherever you are! Why are you waiting to say bye to acne and hello to your best skin health?

Disclaimer: The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or healthcare provider before starting or changing acne treatment.