Can pollution cause acne?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Air pollution, including smog, chemicals, and toxins, can clog your pores and cause an acne flare. If you have acne, it's important to keep your face clean. Wash your face twice a day with a mild soap or cleanser. Be sure to rinse your skin with lukewarm water and pat it dry. Also, keep your hair clean so it does not add oil to your skin. People with oily hair need to wash their hair daily. Apply sunscreen each day before going outside, and make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum and gives protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Select a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to reduce the chance of a sunburn.

Do you really have to worry that your urban life could be giving you acne, too? Air researchers who’ve looked at mouse skin speculate that ozone and other common air pollutants, like nitric oxide, might make skin more susceptible to allergies and irritation. Of course, it’s a huge leap from irritated mouse skin to human acne.

Here’s what we do know: If you’re a city dweller like me, it makes sense to be extra careful about protecting your skin from UV light, because it reacts with air pollution in ways we’re still learning about. On the other hand, if you have acne, don’t assume that city air is making your face extra dirty and that you have to super-clean it. Overscrubbing is a good way to intensify your acne.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Continue Learning about Acne

Avoiding Adult Acne
Avoiding Adult Acne
Won't they ever go away? As an adult, you expect pimples to be a thing of the past. But for many adults, blemishes continue to mar otherwise healthy s...
Read More
Why am I now getting acne as an adult?
First, understand that adult acne is common and its causes are multifaceted. Not having zits as a te...
More Answers
6 Weird Facts About Acne
6 Weird Facts About Acne6 Weird Facts About Acne6 Weird Facts About Acne6 Weird Facts About Acne
Discover bizarre truths about acne and learn how to fight a bad breakout.
Start Slideshow
How Do I Treat Blackheads?
How Do I Treat Blackheads?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.