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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a triple-board-certified dermatologist with over 100 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


Beard Acne: Causes And Treatment - Dermatologist Explains

Updated: Jun 25

Beard acne can be a frustrating and uncomfortable skin condition for men. Learn about the causes and treatment options for beard acne here.

A person showing the part of the face impacted with beard acne.

What is Beard Acne

Beard acne refers to pimples and inflamed hair follicles that develop in the beard area. It’s a common condition for men with facial hair, characterized by red bumps, pustules, and sometimes cysts. This form of acne is often aggravated by shaving and poor beard hygiene.

Causes of Beard Acne

Understanding the root causes of beard acne is essential for effective treatment. Here are the primary culprits:

Bacteria Buildup

The beard area can become a breeding ground for bacteria. The combination of sweat, oil (sebum), and environmental dirt can clog pores, leading to bacterial infections and acne breakouts.

Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs occur when beard hairs curl back or grow sideways into the skin. This can cause irritation, inflammation, and pimples. They are particularly common in areas where hair is coarse and curly.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal fluctuations, especially an increase in androgens, can boost sebum production, leading to clogged pores and acne. This is why many men notice beard acne during puberty or stressful periods.

Poor Hygiene

Not washing the beard regularly or using the wrong products can contribute to acne. Residue from grooming products, dead skin cells, and dirt can accumulate, clogging hair follicles and triggering acne.

Treatment Options

Effective treatment of beard acne involves a combination of proper hygiene, suitable products, and, in some cases, professional care.

Washing And Moisturizing Regularly

A regular cleansing routine is vital. Use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser to wash your beard twice daily. This helps remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Follow up with a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated without clogging pores.

Using A Gentle Beard Shampoo

Specialized beard shampoos can help keep your beard clean without stripping away natural oils. Look for products free from harsh chemicals and fragrances that can irritate the skin. Ingredients like tea tree oil and aloe vera can be beneficial.

Applying Topical Treatments

Over-the-counter treatments containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can be effective. These ingredients help exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. Apply these treatments to the affected areas as directed.

Seeing A Dermatologist For Severe Cases

For persistent or severe beard acne, consult a dermatologist. Prescription treatments such as topical or oral antibiotics, retinoids, or hormonal therapy might be necessary. Dermatologists can also provide professional advice tailored to your skin type and condition.

Prevention Tips

Preventing beard acne involves maintaining good beard hygiene and following a few essential grooming tips.

Keeping The Beard Clean And Groomed

Regular washing and conditioning of the beard can prevent the buildup of dirt and oil. Use a beard comb or brush to distribute natural oils and prevent tangles, which can lead to ingrown hairs.

Avoiding Overgrowth Or Trimming Too Closely To The Skin

Keeping the beard at a manageable length can reduce the risk of acne. Trimming too close to the skin can cause irritation and ingrown hairs. Use proper shaving techniques and tools to avoid razor bumps and pseudofolliculitis barbae.

Additional Insights


Gentle exfoliation once or twice a week can help remove dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores. Use a mild scrub or a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid.

Beard Oils

Using non-comedogenic beard oils can keep the beard soft and the skin underneath hydrated. Avoid oils with heavy fragrances or those known to clog pores.

Razor Blades

Ensure you're using a sharp, clean razor blade. Dull blades can cause irritation and increase the risk of ingrown hairs. Consider using an electric razor for a less irritating shave.

Skincare Products

Choose skincare products labeled "non-comedogenic" and "fragrance-free" to avoid clogging pores and causing irritation. Ingredients like zinc pyrithione and ketoconazole in dandruff shampoos can help manage beard dandruff and associated acne.


Keeping the skin well-hydrated is essential. Drink plenty of water and use a good moisturizer to maintain skin health.

Professional Treatments

In cases of severe beard acne, treatments like chemical peels or laser therapy administered by a dermatologist can be effective.


Beard acne can be managed and prevented with proper care and the right products. Maintaining a regular grooming routine, using gentle and suitable skincare products, and seeking professional advice when necessary can help keep your beard and skin healthy and acne-free.

By understanding the causes and adopting effective treatments and prevention strategies, you can enjoy a well-groomed beard without the discomfort of acne.


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