Don’t Scrub
I remember when I first got acne. I tried to scrub it away by using a washcloth several times a day and rubbing as hard as I could. This resulted in what were probably hundreds of tiny pimples, on my forehead and hairline especially. It didn’t take me long to realize that harsh scrubbing was getting me nowhere.

I have never seen a scientific study specifically attempting to gauge how physical irritation of the skin can cause acne, however. It’s abundantly clear that it does, both from my own personal experience, and the experience of hundreds of thousands of us on acne.org. If you’re not convinced, just wear a face mask for a sport and you will see how hard it is to keep this area clear.

In a recent article published in the journal Dermatology, authors observe three female patients who presented with severe inflammatory acne “due to the association of two factors: facial friction with cosmetic agents.” These young women were rubbing their faces in a “compulsory manner” with their cosmetics.

The authors conclude: “Because cosmetic face friction as a cosmetic care becomes more and more fashionable, dermatologists should be aware of this severe clinical condition, which can occur in patients without a person history of acne.”

Hey, at least this is something. It would be cool to see some sort of controlled clinical trial performed on the effects of physical irritation alone on the severity of acne in the future. In the meantime, if you want to clear up your skin, stay gentle!

References:

  • Seneschal J, et al. “Exogenous inflammatory acne due to combined application of cosmetic and facial rubbing.” Dermatology. 2012; 224(3): 221-3.

2 Responses to “Irritation = Acne. We’ve always known it, but research is trickling in.”

  • Dave

    Interesting that your above post talks about the value of crowdsourcing – Clarisonic (a kind of facial brushing) has huge numbers of positives reviews….

    Furthermore, few things are as irritating to the skin as BP.

  • Martin

    I had severe acne, and what your saying in the above is so true. I scrubbed so many times even when i knew it became worse, every time i was expecting it to get better, but to anyone who read this, don’t scrub, leave it to rest.

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