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Does Touching Your Face Cause Acne? 

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Posted May 12, 2020 in Face, Skin

Woman rubbing her nose

This pandemic has been getting people into some good habits that we will hopefully continue even well after this has gotten under control. Besides the fact that touching your face can get you sick by bringing bacteria and viruses and dirt into your mouth or eyes, you are getting all that stuff into your skin too! Dirt and bacteria get down into your pores and will contribute to acne. While touching your face is not the underlying cause of acne, it can contribute to acne you already have. So, don’t touch your face because it can make your acne worse.   Learn more about Acne from our website.

Don’t Touch Your Face!

Simply avoiding touching your face won’t cure your acne, and it can cause other problems.  If you are touching your face, you are more likely to feel those little bumps and be tempted to pick at them. DON’T do it! When you pick at your bumps, you could be driving the bacteria deeper into the skin making the acne worse or causing a scab that you know you will keep picking at. The more you pick, the more likely you will create a scar. The more you pick and try to pop the acne, the more scars you will get. What if it is too late and you already have a lot of acne scars? The red marks can often be treated with lasers like BBL. The pitted scars can improve with other lasers and  Microneedling  or PRP injections.
Other things touching your face can make acne worse though. Especially if you have a lot of acne on your chin, think about if you wear a helmet, for instance, a horseback riding helmet or dirty football or lacrosse helmet. The dirt and bacteria stay on those chin straps and can keep infecting your skin, so make sure you clean and disinfect those properly after wearing. Also, the face masks that we have to wear during this COVID-19 pandemic need to be washed. The reusable cloth masks should be washed anyway to make sure you are not bringing germs into your house, but the inside of the mask will get your sweat on it, so you want the inside to be clean too, for your skin’s sake.
If you do find that your skin is prone to redness or discoloration from your acne, then you need to make sure you use a good sunscreen, at least SPF 30 every day. The sun makes the red spots redder and the dark spots darker. You need to protect your skin from the harmful damage of the sun’s rays.

Wash Your Face Twice Daily

Just like it is a myth that simply touching your face will cause acne, it is a myth that if you just wash your face more, you won’t get any acne. A lot of factors go into how acne is formed. Hormones and oil production, inflammation, pore size, dirt and bacteria all come together to make a mess of your skin.
You only need to wash your face twice a day. Any more than that can strip too much oil from your skin and then cause you to overproduce oil to try to compensate. So, limit your washing to the morning after you wake up and before you go to bed. What type of cleanser should you use? That will depend on how oily or sensitive your skin is and what sort of prescription acne medications you are using. If you have very oily skin, you can probably tolerate a wash that has salicylic or glycolic acid in it, like SkinCeuticals Clarifying Exfoliating Cleanser or LHA Cleanser . If your skin gets dry very easily or if you are using some very drying acne prescriptions like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide or Accutane, then you probably want to stick to a very gentle cleanser, like SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser.  

No Scrubbing

Don’t scrub, be gentle. If you use a washcloth, get a clean one each time you wash. If your cleanser has benzoyl peroxide, remember that it bleaches fabric, so use a white washcloth or one that you don’t care about if it gets bleached.  Why shouldn’t you scrub? Mechanically exfoliating your skin is much harsher and more likely to cause redness and irritation than chemical exfoliating, especially if you are doing both together. Topical retinoids and acids like tretinoin, adapalene, salicylic and glycolic acids are already exfoliating your skin. If you scrub too much, you can over irritate and deplete your skin’s moisture.
Just like washing too often, the temperature of the water matters too. Use cool or warm water, not hot. The hotter the water, the more drying to your face.

What Next?

After you wash your face, then you will apply your prescription or over the counter topical acne treatments and moisturizers. The order of these may or may not matter depending on what prescription you are using. But in general, you will probably do moisturizer first and then the medicine.

How Well is Your Acne Controlled?

Are your over the counter products not helping? Are you getting a lot of redness or scarring? Then it is time to call NOVA Plastic Surgery and Dermatology in Ashburn, VA to schedule your dermatology appointment. We will discuss your skincare routine and get you on an appropriate regimen to decrease acne breakouts and improve the quality of your skin.

Important note: Treatments do not work immediately. It takes a good 6-8 weeks to really see if something is going to work. So, don’t wait until the week before prom or homecoming or your wedding to make your appointment. The medicines need time to kick in.
In the meantime, stop touching your face!

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