Eyebrow Pimples: What’s Causing Breakouts and How to Handle Them

By Katarina V.| Last updated on January 12, 2024
a worried girl with eyebrow pimples
⏱️ 8 min read

Your face has a new hotspot for pimples and this time they’re making a bold statement right around your eyebrows?

Don’t stress. The fact is, pimples happen and they tend to pop up anywhere you may have some oily patches and hair follicles — which obviously includes your eyebrows.

Just like any acne, they can get ugly, itchy and possibly even painful, making you super self-conscious, insecure, and frustrated.

So, what can you do to fix the breakouts? Read on and find out.

Here’s why eyebrow pimples happen in the first place, how to handle them like a pro, and what to do if things get out of control.

What Causes Eyebrow Pimples?

Pimples around the eyebrows can be attributed to various factors. Some of them are obvious, while others are more sneaky, quietly sabotaging your brow game from the incognito mode.

We’ve identified the root causes of eyebrow pimples and listed them below. So, let’s take a closer look.

Oily T-zone

Eyebrow pimples often trace back to the higher oil gland activity in the T-zone.

Within every hair follicle located in this area, there is an oil gland responsible for producing sebum. This substance, together with dead skin cells, plugs up the follicle, often trapping bacteria underneath.

Without a proper skincare routine based on ingredients that boost cell turnover, this can lead to nasty breakouts, clogged pores and a vicious cycle of other skin issues.

Bad Grooming Habits

Truth be told, we are a generation of obsessive eyebrow groomers, and sometimes it is our bad habits and poor choices that make our brow life miserable.

We’re talking about aggressive self-tweezing, waxing and threading, which can all lead to unnecessary irritation, serious skin damage and even severe infection of the hair follicle.

Also, the tools for brow grooming often carry bacteria if not cleaned regularly. When these come into contact with the delicate skin around your eyebrows, it’s a combo for instant breakout.

@dr.farzan If you get acne around your eyebrows, it’s probably because of your tweezers which were not clean. Make sure to clean your tweezers after each use! #acne #breakout #tweezers ♬ оригинальный звук - kth ☆

Ingrown Hairs

Even if not aggressive, intense grooming can disturb the network of hair follicles.

Ultimately, this may cause the hair to curve back into the skin rather than growing outward. This is a tricky process that usually triggers irritation and annoying eyebrow pimples.

Also, there is one hair removal technique you should definitely be doing right or not at all, and it’s called tweezing.

Why? Because it often leaves a tiny fragment of hair trapped underneath the skin’s surface, which typically results in the appearance of ingrown hair-related blemishes.

If this sounds familiar, possible symptoms you should look out for include:

  • Red or pink bumps
  • Red and swollen bumps
  • Bumps with pus on top
  • Itching
  • Possible pain

Eyebrow Treatments Side Effect

Treating your eyebrows with a professional treatment can be a transformative experience for both you and your eyebrows.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that, like any beauty procedure, these treatments may carry potential side effects, and one of them is the occurrence of eyebrow pimples.

Eyebrow Pimples After Waxing

Professional waxing products may contain harsh ingredients or fragrances that can trigger negative reactions, especially if your skin is sensitive.

Hygiene is another critical factor. If the tools or environment are not adequately sanitized, the risk of introducing bacteria to the freshly waxed area increases.

Also, post-waxing care is crucial. If the skin is not properly cleansed after the procedure or if harsh skincare products are applied, it can trigger irritation and potentially lead to pimples.

Eyebrow Pimples After Microblading

While microblading is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, there are certain cases where you can experience some post-treatment issues.

One one of them is poor microblading aftercare, such as inadequate cleansing or the use of skincare products that simply don’t match your skin type.

Additionally, individual skin sensitivity and how well your skin heals can play a significant role.

Eyebrow Pimples After Plucking

When done professionally, eyebrow plucking carries minimal or even zero risk from ingrown hairs. But, there are other factors that can sometimes lead to the development of pimples.

One of them is bacterial transfer, which happens when plucking tools are not adequately sanitized.

The other is post-plucking care, such as not cleansing the treated area properly or applying irritating skincare products, which can contribute to the development of pimples.

Eyebrow Pimples After Threading

Everyone’s skin reacts differently, and the likelihood of pimples after threading can vary based on individual factors.

For example, if you go for threading with pre-existing skin conditions like facial acne, you may experience a sudden explosion of these spots after the treatment.

Likewise, if your healing processes are slower or you struggle with specific skin concerns, you may be more prone to post-threading complications, including pimples.

Comedogenic Brow Make-Up

If you’ve been relying on brow make-up to help you tame and frame your eyebrows, you should know that some brow products have the potential to clog pores and trigger pimples.

Comedogenic ingredients within brow gels and pomades often include oils, waxes, silicones, as well as other pore-blocking substances that obstruct the hair follicles and cause breakouts.

Once again, it all comes down to the dangerous mix of sebum, bacteria and clogged pores.

Types of Eyebrow Pimples

There are various types of pimples that can affect the eyebrows, and each of them has distinct characteristics and causes.

Here are some common types:

Whiteheads (or closed comedones)

These are small, raised bumps with a white or flesh-colored center. They occur when hair follicles become blocked with sebum and dead skin cells.

Blackheads (or open comedones)

Similar to whiteheads, blackheads are also caused by clogged hair follicles, but the pore remains open. The dark color comes from melanin, not dirt.

Papules

These are small, red, and tender bumps without a visible center. Papules are caused by inflammation and may be a result of infection.

Pustules

Pustules are similar to papules but contain pus at the top, appearing as a white or yellowish center. They are often associated with bacterial infection.

Nodules

Larger, solid, and painful lumps beneath the skin’s surface characterize nodules. They can be more severe and may require professional medical attention.

Cysts

Cysts are deep, painful, and filled with pus. They can be the result of a severe infection or inflammation and may leave scars if not treated appropriately.

The good news is all of them are treatable, but some of the listed types are difficult to fix without the help of a dermatologist.

How to Get Rid of Eyebrow Pimples

It’s important to keep in mind that preventing pimples is always much easier than treating them — especially on your eyebrows.

But, when spots have already popped up around your brows, you should go for the remedy which involves a combination of effective acne treatments, good hygiene practices, and, in some cases, professional assistance.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you build your perfect pimple-proof beauty routine.

Keep the Eyebrow Area Clean

Gently cleanse the eyebrow area using a mild, fragrance-free cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup. Avoid harsh or abrasive cleansers that may irritate the skin.

This CeraVe face wash is a perfect example of the cleanser you should go for:

Topical Treatments

Use over-the-counter topical treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, retinoids or salicylic acid to target acne-causing bacteria and unclog pores.

These are our recommendations:

Avoid Touching or Picking

Refrain from touching or picking at the pimples, as this can introduce bacteria, worsen inflammation, and lead to scarring. Use pimple patches instead.

Blue Light Therapy

Use blue light therapy to kill bacteria and visibly treat acne and breakouts, while speeding up the healing process.

It penetrates deep and helps calm down inflammation. Plus the effects are noticeable pretty much right away.

Warm Compress

Apply a warm compress to the affected area to help reduce inflammation and promote drainage of any pus.

They also increase blood supply on the skin surface around the pimples, making the healing process smoother and faster.

What to Do If Eyebrow Pimple Won’t Go Away

If your eyebrow pimples refuse to go away after two weeks of at-home treatment, the best and safest option for you is to consult with a dermatologist for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

Don’t be shy or think you can work outside your abilities. Ignoring the situation won’t make the problem disappear, just like playing skin doctor won’t fix the pimple mess.

A dermatologist will provide reliable insights into potential underlying causes and recommend targeted solutions based on your skin type and condition.

How to Prevent Eyebrow Pimples from Coming Back

Fixing pimples is great, but there’s one thing even more satisfying and that’s making sure they never mess with your brows again.

Here are some tips to prevent eyebrow pimples from coming back.

  • Wash your face twice a day, as well as immediately after your workout or whenever you break a sweat to remove oil and dirt buildup.
  • Always, always, always remove your makeup before you go to bed.
  • Exfoliate two to three times a week to remove dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores. Choose a mild exfoliant suitable for your skin type.
  • Choose your skincare and makeup products carefully. Go for oil-free, non-occlusive, and non-comedogenic formulas that won’t suffocate your skin.
  • Regularly clean your skincare and makeup tools and applicators to prevent bacterial contamination.
  • Be mindful of eyebrow grooming practices. Avoid over-plucking, over-waxing, or aggressive threading to minimize irritation.
  • Before plucking or threading your eyebrows, make sure to wash the targeted area with warm water and exfoliate your skin to loosen the hair follicle.
  • If you’re waxing your eyebrows, cleanse your skin using a gentle formula, but skip exfoliation to avoid additional irritation.
  • Follow the specific aftercare instructions provided by your esthetician or the ones included with your at-home grooming products.

Why Do Pimples in Eyebrows Hurt?

Dealing with a regular eyebrow pimple can be quite annoying, but dealing with a painful pimple is just next level frustrating. And you can’t help but wonder why they hurt so bad?

Well, there are a couple of possible answers, and we’ve listed them all below.

Inflammation

If you’re experiencing pain, tenderness, and increased sensitivity, you can be sure that these symptoms are the three cardinal signs of inflammation.

Basically, it’s just your body’s natural response to inflammation typically caused by bacteria and dead skin cells trapped within the hair follicles.

Pressure and Swelling

As a pimple develops, it may grow in size as pus and dead skin cells gradually build up.

The larger it gets, the more pressure it puts on the surrounding tissues, which is why you may experience some pain in the affected area.

Nerve Endings

The nerve endings in the skin make certain areas, including the eyebrows, more sensitive to pain.

When a pimple pops up on the surface of your skin, it can stimulate these nerve endings, leading to an increased pain response.

Infection

If the pimple becomes infected, either through bacteria entering the follicle or due to repeated touching and irritation, the infection can intensify the pain.

Infected pimples may also result in persistent redness and unpleasant sensations of warmth in the eyebrow area.

Key Takeaway

Eyebrow pimples are a common beauty challenge and they typically happen as a result of poor skincare or grooming habits.

However, there are also other, less obvious causes of these irritating bumps. The good news is that most of them can be successfully treated and prevented at home.

The best way to manage pimples on your eyebrows is to prioritize clean skincare practices, choose non-occlusive and non-comedogenic products, and remember to do aftercare.

This holistic approach will not only fix your eyebrow pimples but also pave your way towards flawless brows.

Cover image source: Freepik

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