What Causes Spots?

Read our guide on why we get spots, how to prevent them and if you do next if you do get them!

What are spots?

The science behind spots

Spots are actually the bodies way of healing itself. The sebaceous gland is located next to small hair follicles in the skin and secretes an oil known as sebum, which is used to prevent the skin and hair from drying out. Spots develop when these pores become clogged and inflamed. This tends to happen mostly around what’s known as the T-zone, which refers to the area surrounding the forehead, nose and chin. The body then tries to repair itself by sending extra blood and chemicals to the area, this causes inflammation.

Blackheads vs whiteheads

What's the difference between a blackhead and a whitehead? When a pore is clogged but not completely closed, the bacteria inside is exposed and becomes oxidised forming a grey colour; known as a blackhead. Whiteheads are formed when the pore is completely sealed up and becomes inflamed.

Teenage Skin

Teenagers are more susceptible to spots because the sebaceous glands are enlarged during puberty and the hormones that are produced trigger changes, increasing their production of sebum. This means there is a higher chance of the pores becoming blocked. For more information read our guide on teenage skincare.


What causes spots

The different reasons why we get spots on our face

Diet

It’s not surprising that what we eat can affect how our skin looks. ‘High-glycaemic’ carbohydrates that raise the blood sugar such as pasta, white rice, sugar and white bread can cause the production of hormones and raise sebum levels. Dairy, saturated and trans fats can also increase your chances of getting spots.

Hormones

The sebaceous glands are particularly sensitive to hormonal changes. As teenagers’ hormone levels change so dramatically during puberty, this puts them at particular risk of hormone-related acne. In women, if the androgen receptors are sensitive they can produce more sebum causing pores to get clogged.

Medications

Certain medications can affect the hormones in your body which can then cause spots. If you think that your medication is causing you to breakout, go and see your doctor.

Harsh skincare

Using the wrong skin care can affect your chances of getting spots, especially if it’s harsh on the skin. Using harsh products especially those with fragrances and dyes can irritate the skin and dry it out. Sometimes when our skin is dry it will over compensate and produce more oil, which in turn can clog up our pores creating spots. If you are susceptible to spots make sure to use gentle products like NIVEA Caring Micellar water to cleanse your face and keep your skin moisturised with an oil-free moisturiser like the NIVEA Daily Essentials Oil-Free Moisturising Day Cream, it even has a high performing formula to effectively fight existing spots and helps to prevent blemishes.

Genetics

Whether we get acne or spots can sometimes be connected to genetics, some specific genetic mutations can lead to us being more likely to get acne or spots. Spots can be caused by multiple different things from the way your immune system works to specific bacteria in the gut to hormones and all of these things can be affected by genetics.


face mapping - what do spots on different parts of the face mean?

 What’s going on with different areas of our face can let us know what’s going on with our body.

  • Spots on forehead: When we get spots below the hairline it could be due to two things; hair or diet. When sweat gets caught in your fringe or when residue from products used in your hair get on the skin they can block up your pores, causing spots. Spots on the forehead could also be a sign that you’re consuming too much red meat, saturated fats or alcohol. 
  • Spots on cheeks: This can also be down to too much consumption of red meat, sugar and dairy. Although, it could also be down to general hygiene. Our pillows and phones will carry a lot of bacteria and when we put these against our faces they can cause spots, so make sure to not take your phone to the bathroom and give it a wipe down with anti-bacterial wipes and change your pillows often. 
  • Spots on jawline: When we get spots on our jawline this could be down to congestion of the large intestine. Heavily processed foods such as ready meals, fast food and even biscuits could be causing you to get spots along your jawline. 
  • Spots on chin and spots around the mouth: These usually signal a hormonal change, when there is a disruption in your endocrine system, which produces hormones, this can cause the sebaceous glands to become overstimulated. This is why women in particular might notice more spots on their chin during their period, or if they are on certain types of birth control.
  • Spots on t-zone: We tend to be most oily around our t-zone, which is especially the case with combination skin, this can cause more spots in this area. There have also been studies linking higher levels of stress and fatigue to spots in this area. 


how to prevent spots

Avoid touching your face

Even if you wash your hands very regularly, you’d be surprised at how many germs and bacteria they carry. These are easily transferred when you touch your face, which can encourage pimples to form.

Pay attention to your hair

Make sure to wash your hair regularly in your routine. It can be a carrier of additional impurities like oils. Other hair tips for avoiding the transfer of oils is ensuring long hair is pulled back away from the face.

Diet

As previously mentioned eating the wrong things can increase your chances of getting spots and conversely eating the right things can help prevent spots. Things which contain probiotics such as kombucha and pickles promote healthy bacteria in your gut which can decrease inflammation. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans and veg can also reduce your chances of developing spots.

Moisturise

Keep your skin moisturised to prevent drying out but make sure to use oil-free products. When choosing hair products, try to find silicone based rather than oil as this oil can build up on the skin.

Makeup

Try to wear less makeup, as it can clog up your pores. However, if you do still want to wear makeup make sure to keep your brushes clean, as they may spread bacteria around your face creating spots. Also, ensure to always remove your makeup properly before bed, read our guide on removing makeup properly.


How to get rid of spots

The different reasons why we get spots on our face

Skincare 

A good daily skin care routine is a huge part of any treatment for blemish prone skin and will help prevent any new spots from forming. Make sure you are cleansing twice a day to rid the pores of any dirt, grime and pollution. Good skincare is important, even on the go - read our face cleansing routine for women on the go here.

Firstly, when you wash your face try to use warm water to open your pores allowing your cleanser to wash away any impurities, however try not to use hot water as this can dry out the skin. We suggest using the NIVEA Daily Essentials refreshing cleansing cream for every day use and then exfoliating your face a couple times a week with the NIVEA 1 Minute Urban Detox Mask Purify a couple times a week for a deep cleanse and to exfoliate the skin. When you are drying your face make sure to pat the skin with a clean towel instead of rubbing it. Always finish with a moisturiser, the NIVEA Daily Essentials Light Moisturising Day Cream is the perfect choice as it gives you the moisture you need without being too heavy! Find out more on how to cleanse your face here.

Don’t forget to cleanse in the morning!

Your morning cleanse is just as important as your evening cleanse. It rids the skin of any sweat, sebum and dirt particles that may have built up in the pores overnight, which could otherwise lead to spots. Have you tried NIVEA Sensitive Caring Micellar Water for a refined complexion?

To pop or not to pop - that is the question!

According to dermatologists – you should never pop a spot! When you pop a spot you are actually preventing your skin from healing. You can also tear the skin, this leads to bleeding and creates an open wound, which may get more bacteria in making the spot bigger and worse. Popping a spot can also lead to more debris being pushed further into the follicles making spots worse. Another reason why you shouldn’t pop spots is because it can actually lead to scars which are difficult to get rid of!