Winter Acne: Causes, Prevention And Treatment

Most people think of acne as a problem that only teenagers have to deal with, but the truth is that adults can get acne, too. In fact, some people get it worse in winter than they do during the summer.

If you’re one of those people, read on for information about what causes winter acne, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if you do get it.

Is It Acne Or Winter Rash?

One of the first things you need to do is determine whether your skin problems are actually caused by acne or by something else. Acne is a condition that causes pimples, blackheads, and other blemishes on the skin. If you only have a few small red bumps on your face, it’s more likely that you’re experiencing a winter rash and not acne.

Some skin problems appear to be acne but are, in fact, something else. For example:

  • If you have small, raised bumps that are itchy, you may have eczema.
  • If you have pus-filled bumps, you may have a staph infection.
  • If you have large, red, and painful pimples, you may have hormonal acne.

Only a dermatologist can give you a definitive diagnosis, so if you’re not sure what’s causing your skin problems, make an appointment to see one.

Is Acne Worse In Summer Or Winter?

Most people find that their acne is worse in the summer than in the winter. There are a few possible explanations for this:

In the summer, people tend to sweat more. Sweat can clog pores and lead to breakouts.

In the summer, people are more likely to wear less clothing, which means that there’s less of a barrier between your skin and the outside world. This can lead to more exposure to dirt, oil, and other potential acne-causing agents.

The change in seasons may also affect your hormones, which can trigger breakouts.

Despite the fact that acne is typically worse in the summer, some people find that they get more breakouts in the winter. There are a few possible explanations for this, too.

Let’s have a look at some of the causes of acne in the cold weather.

tips to get rid of winter acne

What Causes Winter Acne?

Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including excess oil production, clogged pores, and bacteria. Let’s have a look at what factors can cause winter acne –

1. Reduced UV Rays

One of the main causes of winter acne is the reduced amount of UV rays that reach the Earth in winter. UV rays are essential for keeping skin healthy, and when they’re in short supply, it can lead to problems like acne.

There’s some evidence suggesting that UV light has an impact on the body’s production of different kinds of immune cells, as well as the populations of bacteria that dwell on the skin’s surface. In winter, when UV radiation is minimized, this bacterial and immunological shift may contribute to acne flare-ups.

2. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are another common cause of winter acne. This is because hormones can stimulate oil production, which can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts.

3. Cold, Dry Weather

The cold, dry air of winter can also cause skin problems like acne. When skin is dry, it becomes more susceptible to infection and inflammation, both of which can lead to acne.

The drier the air, the more sebum your skin creates, and the more prone you are to clogged pores and breakouts. The winter season is often the driest time of year, so even individuals with excellent complexions may notice a few more blemishes than usual.

4. Increased Stress Levels

Stress can also aggravate acne by causing hormonal changes that can stimulate oil production.

The danger of a breakout may be greatest at the start of the winter season, when your body isn’t used to chilly temperatures.

5. Certain Medications

Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and lithium, can also cause acne.

6. Poor Diet

Eating a diet high in processed foods and sugar can also cause winter acne. This is because these foods can trigger inflammation and disrupt the balance of bacteria on the skin.

Holiday season comes with the good food and sugar temptation, and in turn the acne!

7. Indoor Triggers

Take a look at your house to see whether you’ve fallen into any winter routines that are making it feel stuffy. Since we spend more time inside in the winter months, our pillowcases or bedding may not be cleaned on a regular basis enough. Continue to maintain your cleaning routine, even if you don’t feel as sweaty at night as you do during the summer.

How To Prevent Winter Acne

preventing winter acne

There are several things you can do to help prevent winter acne.

1. Use A Sunscreen

One of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays is to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Sure, it may seem strange to put on sunscreen when it’s only 20 degrees outside. However, your skin is just as vulnerable to sun damage in the winter as it is during the summer months. Wearing sunscreen 365 days a month provides the best protection against UV rays.

Sunscreen isn’t only for avoiding sunburn; it also prevents wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and a rough skin texture.

So, if you use a sunscreen (or moisturizer with SPF) during the summer months, continue to do so throughout the year. You’re not using any sun protection? It’s never too late to start.

Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.4 and broad-spectrum protection. There are many choices, from oil-free products designed especially for acne-prone skin to tinted sunscreens that provide some cosmetic coverage to natural-based sunscreens if you’re interested in them. There’s no need to worry about not wearing SPF on a daily basis any longer.

Furthermore, some acne medications make you more vulnerable to UV damage. It’s doubly important that you use sunscreen if you’re using them.

2. Keep Your Skin Hydrated

It’s important to keep your skin hydrated in winter, especially if you’re experiencing dryness and flakiness. You can do this by using a moisturizer that’s appropriate for your skin type.

3. Avoid Touching Your Face

Touching your face can spread bacteria and aggravate acne lesions. Try to avoid touching your face, especially if your hands are dirty.

Your hands come into direct touch with a variety of things on a daily basis, such as doorknobs, greasy cell phone displays, and so on; bacteria transmission can easily lead to acne. When you combine the fact that you may be applying lotions excessively during the winter and the increased surface area of the skin that can be touched, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

4. Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If you wear makeup, it’s important to clean your brushes on a regular basis. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria and other contaminants that can cause acne.

5. Eat A Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is important for keeping your skin clear and blemish-free. Avoid processed foods and sugary snacks, and focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Green tea, in particular, is another excellent option for reducing inflammation. Natural antioxidants found in fruits including blueberries and cranberries can protect the skin from the damaging effects of cold weather. Orange vegetables rich in carotenoids offer protection against UV damage, which may occur no matter what season it is.

6. Reduce Stress Levels

Stress can aggravate acne, so it’s important to find ways to reduce stress in your life. Consider yoga, meditation, or aromatherapy to help you relax.

7. Bathe In Lukewarm Water

Hot water can strip the natural oils from your skin, making it more susceptible to dryness and irritation. When you wash your face or take a shower, use lukewarm water instead of hot water.

8. Use A Humidifier

If the air in your home is dry, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. This can help prevent your skin from becoming dry and cracked.

9. Choose Non-Comedogenic Products

When selecting makeup, skincare, and haircare products, look for items that are non-comedogenic or oil-free. These products are less likely to clog your pores and cause acne.

10. Use A Moisturizer After Bathing

After you shower or bathe, apply a moisturizer to your skin. This will help lock in moisture and prevent your skin from drying out. Remember that most acne treatments leave the skin dry to some extent. Using a moisturizer on a daily basis will make your skin look more youthful, feel smoother, and heal faster following treatment with strong chemicals.

You don’t have to use a thick, greasy lotion. And, if you pick the correct acne-prone skin moisturizer, you won’t have to worry about it clogging your pores either.

Choose a moisture-rich gel or lotion. These are generally lighter moisturizers than creams or balms. Choose a moisturizer that is noncomedogenic, regardless of the type you select. Noncomedogenic products are less prone to cause pore clogs.

11. Exfoliate Regularly

Exfoliating your skin can help remove dead skin cells and other debris that can clog pores and cause acne. Try to exfoliate your skin at least once a week.

12. Use A Clay Mask

Clay masks can help draw out impurities from the skin and reduce inflammation. Apply a clay mask once or twice a week to help keep your skin clear.

13. Change Your Cleanser

While it might have been an excellent option in the summer, your cleanser may not be ideal for you now that the cold has arrived. If you feel congested and dry after washing, you’ll probably want to go with a milder cleanser.

Both foaming cleansers, whether liquid washes or bar soaps, are very successful in removing extra oil. This is fantastic during the summer when your skin is oily and sweaty, but not so excellent when your skin feels parched or cracked. Consider switching to a non-foaming or cream cleanser instead of your usual foaming wash. These are less likely to leave you with that tight sensation after washing.

Keep in mind that any cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide is very drying.

Acne-prone skin is more prone to irritation and inflammation if cleansers are used excessively or for prolonged periods of time. This can happen especially if you’re utilizing them in conjunction with other acne therapy products like retinoids, topical antibiotics, and so on.

During the winter months, a mild, non-medicated cleanser like Dove, Neutrogena, or Cetaphil may be better for you. You’ll only need to use an acne-fighting cleanser when your skin isn’t as dry anymore. If you want assistance selecting a cleanser, see your dermatologist for suggestions.

14. Don’t Wash Your Face As Often

Washing your face more than twice a day can actually cause your skin to produce more oil. This is because when you strip the natural oils from your skin, your body will produce more oil to make up for it.

Use a gentle cleanser and avoid scrubbing your face too harshly.

When your skin is feeling dry, even a twice-daily cleaning may be too harsh. Try just washing once a day, preferably in the evening, to remove any make up, sweat, oil, or dirt that may have accumulated on the face throughout the day. Skipping the morning facial wash is an excellent idea if you don’t need it at all.

15. Exercise Regularly

Due to cold weather, you might want to spend more time indoors during the winter. However, getting some exercise is essential for good skin health. Exercise helps to increase blood flow and oxygen to the skin. This can help improve your complexion and reduce acne breakouts.

16. Breathe Fresh Air In The Morning

If you can, step outside for a few minutes each morning to breathe some fresh air. The cold air will help to increase blood flow and oxygen levels in your body, which can improve your skin health.

17. See A Dermatologist

If you’re struggling with winter acne, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist. They can help you find the right treatment plan to clear your skin.

Treatment For Winter Acne

There are several treatments that can help improve winter acne.

1. Topical Treatments

Topical treatments, such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid, can help unclog pores and reduce inflammation.

2. Oral Medications

Oral medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, can also be effective in treating winter acne.

3. Light Therapy

Light therapy is a type of treatment that uses ultraviolet light to kill acne-causing bacteria.

4. Laser Treatment

Laser treatment can help to reduce the appearance of scars and other marks left behind by acne.

5. Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections can help to reduce inflammation and scars.

6. Acne Surgery

Acne surgery is a type of procedure that involves extracting pimples and cysts.

7. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels can help to improve the appearance of your skin by reducing discoloration and scarring.

8. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a type of exfoliation that can help to improve the appearance of your skin by reducing scarring and discoloration.

The best treatment for winter acne will vary from person to person. If you’re struggling with acne during the winter months, be sure to see a dermatologist for help. They can recommend the best treatment plan for you.


Acne can be a struggle at any time of the year, but it may be especially difficult in the winter. There are several treatments that may assist with winter acne. Topical remedies, oral medicines, light therapy, laser treatment, corticosteroid injections, acne surgery, and chemical peels are some of them.

If you’re having trouble with winter acne, make an appointment to see a dermatologist for advice on the best treatment option. They can help you choose the most effective therapy strategy for your situation.

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