January 17, 2017

Scarf Attack! How Your Winter Breakouts Can Be Prevented

Scarves and coat collars can provoke adult acne on neck and jawline areas.

Do you have new jawline and neck breakouts that are bad enough to have you running to your doctor?  Don’t go making an appointment just yet… This winter is cold but the weather keeps fluctuating.  Sometimes it's humid with snow, sometimes bitter cold and dry.  Nothing else bares the brunt of freezing cold like your skin.  But you know what, while everyone is familiar with the drying and chapping effects of frigid winds, very few people take into account how the weather might affect adult acne.  What makes winter different, why would adult acne breakouts be any different than now?

The answer is friction.

Adult acne breakouts on jawline and neck could be from your winter scarf.

The kind of breakouts that can be caused by friction are painful, red, hard lumps. They often occur in clusters, as you may see right now along your jawline and neck. These "papules" are commonly confused with what some refer to as "cysts" but that's not actually what they are.  Cysts are infected pimples that become so out of control, the infection bursts through the bottom of the pore to surrounding tissue and subsequently grows to the size of a gum ball, staying quite a bit below the surface rather than jutting out on top.  Cysts are the result of a genetic condition - not everyone who breaks out underneath their scarves and coat collars have cystic acne.  The rest of the year they may not break out there at all.

Consider the pattern of your breakouts -- Do they correspond to where your scarf gathers around your neck? What about where your coat or jacket collar rubs against your skin?

Friction and pressure from scarves and coat collars can aggravate adult acne breakouts along the jawline and neck.
One thing that I’ve learned over the 16 years I’ve been in the skincare biz -- skin really hates being bothered!  

Your skin can get used to many things, but sometimes the way it can develop a tolerance is to react in the most inconvenient of ways. One of the ways the skin reacts to friction and scratching is inflammation inside and just outside pores.  This causes swelling, redness and hyperpigmentation.  Another is to cause a little extra oil production to help brace against the friction so there's more "slip".  If there is any pore congestion or already existing inflammation from skincare or makeup, this oil can get stuck and lead to further inflammation inside pores.  This also results in swelling, redness, and pain.

A few things to consider :

  • You may be slightly allergic or sensitive to wool. If you’ve ever had any itching from a wool sweater at all, even if it’s never really bothered you very much, your skin could be just sensitive enough for your pores to react to a wool or wool-blend scarf (even more so to a wool coat collar!). If this describes you, switch to scarves that are made of cotton or soft acrylic and be sure that it's layered between your skin and your wool coat.
    Bright overcast skies and snow on the ground means you need sun protection.

  • No matter what the material, your scarf or coat collar may not be scratchy enough to itch, but may be bothering your skin anyway.  Wear scarves that are soft.

  • Oily skin that is prone to inflamed breakouts doesn't like to get too heated.  Be sure to remove everything from your neck and jawline as soon as you get indoors.

  • Even if you’re not allergic to wool, your coat or jacket collar jabbing your skin is very likely to result in a breakout.  Try to make sure there is something soft and well-fitting between your skin and your outerwear.

    So.  What to do ??

    Now that you know all about what can contribute to winter breakouts along your jawline, what can be done about the breakouts that are already there?

    A great quick-fix for unruly breakouts is something called "Ice Therapy". 



    Ice Therapy for quick fix of adult acne breakouts.

    Each morning and evening until the breakouts subside, very gently massage your blemishes with an ice cube for 1-2 minutes. Dry the area off gently and rub in a tiny amount of a well-formulated salicylic acid gel. (I highly recommend Rescue Gel.) If blemishes are especially painful and stubborn, follow the salicylic acid gel with a dab of a clay mask -- either the Zinc & Sulfur Mask or the Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask. If your skin is sensitive, leave the mask on for 10 minutes then rinse gently with a wet soft cloth. If your skin is not that sensitive, leave the mask on as long as you wish. Just don’t forget to rinse it off before you leave the house! :)

    In addition, be sure to always include your jawline and neck when performing your day and nighttime skincare routines and make sure that your makeup and skincare products are all 100% non-comedogenic!   




Your acne problem has a source, and clearing your skin requires finding that source and either eliminating it or healing it.  You can start that right now by filling out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation Form created specially for ages Gen-X to Baby Boom!

Eval by Email, Virtual Skincare Coaching specially designed for acne sufferers ages 24 and up.

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Stay warm, stay dry, stay safe !