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The Most-Googled Questions About Nose Acne, Answered by a Top Dermatologist

Vogue Arabia, March 2019. Photo: Féliz Valiente

Unless you’ve been blessed with clear skin, it’s likely you’ve experienced acne (and most likely nose acne) at some point in your life.

In fact, according to the NHS, acne is one of the most common skin conditions with 95% of people aged 11 to 30 being impacted to some extent.

Pesky little spots can pop up everywhere but one of the most irritating (and often painful) areas is on the nose, with hundreds of thousands of Google’s most-asked questions specifically around nose acne.

If you’ve got any burning questions about the causes of nose acne – and how to treat it – Dr Ophelia Veraitch, a leading dermatologist at the renowned Cranley Clinic, has answered Google’s most-asked questions below.


What causes spots to occur on the nose, both blackheads and whiteheads?

Blackheads (aka open comedones) and whiteheads (aka closed comedones) occur when pores become blocked due to an excess of sebum, dead skin cells and debris from day-to-day life.

Blackheads are essentially open pores that become clogged and take on a dark color due to oxidization. Whereas whiteheads are closed clogged pores that do not change in color. They are both clinical signs of acne.

Why is my nose red and spotty?

The nose naturally has the largest pores on the face and thus, tends to be the area that suffers the most from blackheads and whiteheads. Sebum (oil) is necessary to keep the skin protected and lubricated, but some people’s sebaceous glands can produce too much oil.

When there’s a build-up of oil and dead skin cells in the hair follicles, they eventually become blocked – causing spots. And if these blockages become infected by bacteria, they may become inflamed – appearing swollen and red.

How do you get rid of spots on your nose?

The key to treating acne is to control oil production and effectively remove dead skin cells. Make sure that your skincare routine is oil-free, as the oil in skincare products will only exacerbate acne further.

Also, look for cleansers which are non-foaming, as foaming cleansers can strip the skin of its essential oil, causing skin to overcompensate and produce more oil. Always ensure that your makeup is non-comedogenic as this will allow your skin to breathe and will help prevent pores from becoming blocked.

Why am I suddenly breaking out on my nose?

Oil production is the key to most breakouts and the levels of sebum are often closely related to your hormones. Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can all trigger an increase in sebum production.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking sebum over-production can only affect women and teenagers; testosterone belongs to a class of male sex hormones called androgens, which triggers acne by over-stimulating oil glands. Androgens also change the skin cells that line hair follicles making them stick and more likely to clog pores.

Photo: Getty

Are there any products or skincare ingredients that can specifically tackle blackheads and whiteheads on the nose?

Night-time retinoids are fantastic as they speed up the cell turnover of the skin, helping to restore a healthy skin cycle and reduce the amount of dead skin on the surface, in turn reducing the chance of blocked pores. When combined with an oral treatment, this will give fantastic results. These can include tetracycline which is used for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, spironolactone which is great for cyclical acne and is an anti-androgen. Another option is Roaccutane, which offers long term benefits but requires careful monitoring.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid are also useful for clearing up nose acne, acting as an exfoliant to weaken and dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together and speed up cell turnover by acting on the epidermal and dermal layers.

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