Does Touching Your Face Cause Acne? The Answer: YES!

If you ever wonder whether touching your face with your own hands can cause acne, the answer is yes! This has been proven by various studies, showing that our hands carry a lot of bacteria and germs. When these bacteria come in contact with your face, it can easily lead to clogged pores and resulting acne breakouts.

However, it’s not always as simple and straight-forward as “don’t touch your face”. Sometimes, the urge to do so can be strong and difficult to ignore. Or, another times, you just forget that your hands have been exposed to germs and bacteria, and you end up touching your face without thinking.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. 

And, among the most common causes of acne are contact with bacteria and dirt, which can be easily transferred from your dirty hands to your face.

Having acne (and acne scars) does not only affect your appearance, it also affects your self-esteem and confidence, and take a toll on your mental health. 

So, if you want to keep your skin healthy and acne-free, it is important to be mindful of how often you touch your face, and always make sure that your hands are clean before touching. 

does touching your face cause acne
Photo from Pexels

Different Types of Acne

Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that results in pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes even cysts on the skin.

It occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with sebum, an oily substance produced by the body’s sebaceous glands. When bacteria get trapped in these blocked follicles, they can cause inflammation that leads to acne breakouts.

The reasons for its occurrence vary, including hormonal imbalances, diet, and genetic factors, among others. And while it can be a temporary nuisance, acne can leave long-lasting scars, hyperpigmentation, and lower self-esteem in more severe cases.

Depending on the severity of acne, it can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Mild cases are characterized by occasional breakouts and may respond well to over-the-counter treatments. Moderate to severe acne, however, often requires prescription medications or other more aggressive treatments.

Then, among all acne types, most dermatologists agree that touching your face is the number one cause of breakouts. In fact, it has its own name — acne mechanica. This type of acne is typically triggered by friction, heat, and pressure, which can be caused by wearing helmets, tight clothing, and even touching your face.

What Is Acne Mechanica?

As you can see from the name, acne mechanica is caused by mechanical factors, like pressure or friction, on the surface of the skin. This type of acne is typically found in people who often wear tight clothing items (like hats and helmets) or who spend a lot of time with their hands on their faces.

It’s also common among athletes, as the sweat and humid environment can make it more likely for bacteria and dirt to get stuck on the skin. And with constant friction, these bacteria can easily get into your pores and cause breakouts.

While acne mechanica is not as common as other acne types, it’s still important to be aware of its potential for causing breakouts, as well as take steps to reduce the risk of it happening.

Main Causes of Acne Mechanica

The main cause of acne mechanica is friction, pressure, or heat. This kind of physical contact to the skin can increase sebum production and create an environment that’s ripe for bacteria to spread and cause breakouts.

Most cases of acne mechanica are caused by a combination of factors, which include:

  • Prolonged contact with bacteria and dirt from your hands, your glasses, or even your mobile phones.
  • Friction or pressure on the skin, such as when wearing tight hats or helmets.
  • Heat generated in close environments (like gyms).
  • Humidity levels that can increase bacteria growth.

However, the most common cause of acne mechanica is simply touching your face too much, as our hands often carry a lot of bacteria and dirt.

Sometimes, you may not even notice that you’re touching your face, as it can become a habit. To reduce this risk, it’s important to keep your hands clean and avoid putting pressure on the skin.

Why Touching Your Face Can Cause Acne

Touching your face can cause acne for several reasons. Firstly, the act of touching transfers the bacteria, viruses, and allergens present on your hands directly to your facial skin.

Our hands are breeding grounds for bacteria, picking up germs and dirt from everyday activities and surfaces. When we touch our faces, we transfer these unwelcome visitors onto our skin, resulting in inflammation and acne breakouts.

These can clog your pores along with the sebum and dead skin cells already present, leading to inflammation and acne breakouts.

Secondly, touching your face can spread existing acne. If you pop a pimple or touch an area of your face that’s already affected by acne, you can inadvertently spread the bacteria to other parts of your face, causing new breakouts.

Moreover, constantly touching and rubbing your face can lead to irritation and inflammation of the skin, increasing the risk of acne breakouts.

It can also lead to a more severe form of acne called acne excoriee, where the pimples become scabs due to constant picking.

In addition, certain habits, like resting your face on your hand, can create an environment that’s conducive to acne. The constant pressure and friction, along with the heat and sweat trapped against the skin, create the perfect conditions for acne to flourish.

In short, touching your face increases the chances of developing acne, especially if your hands are not clean. And you know what? In most cases, your hands are not!

Even when you think your hands are clean, bacteria and dirt can still be present. So, if you are trying to keep your skin acne-free, it’s best to avoid touching your face as much as possible.

Photo from Pexels

Preventing Acne Mechanica

Now that we know what causes acne mechanica, let’s take a look at some of the preventive strategies you can use to reduce your risk of breakouts.

The best way to prevent acne mechanica is by following a few simple hygiene habits:

  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your face twice daily with warm water and avoid scrubbing too hard or using harsh soap, as this can aggravate the skin.
  • Wear loose clothing and avoid tight hats or helmets.
  • Always use a clean towel to dry your face.
  • Clean your makeup brushes regularly.
  • If possible, try not to use makeup for for prolonged periods of time.
  • Change pillowcases often to reduce the amount of bacteria on them.
  • Avoid eating too much dairy, sugary foods, and processed foods that can increase sebum production and worsen acne.

Although there’s no sure-fire way to guarantee no breakouts, following these tips can help you reduce the risk of acne mechanica and have healthier skin overall.

However, if you notice that your acne persists for more than a few weeks or worsens, it’s important to see a dermatologist to determine the underlying cause and find an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment of Acne Mechanica

When it comes to caring for your skin, the best way to treat acne mechanica is prevention. Follow the tips above and you should be able to reduce your risk of breakouts.

However, if you do develop acne mechanica, it’s important to visit a dermatologist for an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on the severity of your condition, they may recommend topical medications (benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids) to reduce inflammation and bacteria, oral antibiotics, or even laser therapies.

If you’re looking for ways to address acne mechanica at home, there are some self-care tips that can help:

  • Use gentle cleansers and avoid scrubbing too hard.
  • Follow a good skincare routine with products designed specifically for acne-prone skin.
  • Avoid squeezing or picking at pimples, as this could cause scarring.
  • Add a weekly exfoliating mask to your routine.
  • Apply natural home remedies like tea tree oil, aloe vera, and honey to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • If you wear glasses, make sure they are clean and free of bacteria. Wash them regularly with soap and water.
  • Wipe your cell phone with an antibacterial wipe every few days to keep it free of bacteria.

If followed properly, these tips can help improve the appearance of acne mechanica and reduce any discomfort you may be feeling. Of course, it will take time and patience to see results, but with the right care, you can see a noticeable improvement.

How To Avoid Touching Your Face?

Touching your face can become an unconscious habit. You may do if more often than you realize, especially when you’re stressed or bored.

Even though it’s not always easy to break the habit, there are some best practices you can take to reduce the amount of times you do it:

  • Pay attention to your hands and be aware of when you are touching or rubbing your face.
  • Keep your hands busy with activities like doodling, knitting, or drawing.
  • Don’t rest your head on your hand while studying or at work. Instead, use a cushion or pillow.
  • Keep your hands clean by washing them regularly with soap and water throughout the day, or use hand sanitizer if you’re out.

To keep your face acne-free, it’s crucial to break this bad habit of touching your face. Although it’s easier said than done, especially if you do it unconsciously, these tips can help you reduce the amount of times you touch your face and ultimately prevent acne.

When You Should See A Dermatologist?

If you have tried some of the tips above and find that your acne persists or worsens, it’s important to see a dermatologist or skin specialist. They can diagnose the underlying cause of your breakouts and your current skin conditions, and provide an appropriate acne treatment plan.

A dermatologist can provide you with a personalized skincare plan to treat your acne and help you find the best treatment options. They may suggest medications, laser treatments, or even lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of breakouts.

It’s also important to seek medical advice if you notice any new bumps on your face or other areas of the body. These could be signs of skin cancer, and it’s important to get them checked by a professional the eliminate the risk of skin cancer, just in case.

Your Key Takeaways

To summarize, touching your face can increase the risk of developing acne, especially if your hands are not clean.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid touching your face as much as possible and follow a good hygiene routine to reduce the chances of getting breakouts.

If you do develop acne mechanica or find that it persists despite following preventive measures, it’s important to see a dermatologist for an appropriate treatment plan.

Finally, pay attention to your hands and be aware of when you are touching or rubbing your face. Keep your hands busy with activities like doodling, knitting, or drawing and always keep them clean by washing them regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitizer when needed.

Acne mechanica can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition, but with the right care and prevention methods, you can reduce your risk of breakouts and have healthier skin.

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