Does Touching Your Face Worsens Acne?

Written by Ramona Sinha

We all have this sneaky habit of touching our acne or pimple. Many of us are also guilty of scratching or popping the inflamed zit – only to exacerbate the problem. You might have thought that not touching your face may make your zits disappear. It is not as easy as it sounds.

Multiple factors are responsible for acne, and not touching your face cannot magically make them disappear. However, touching your acne frequently and picking them can worsen the existing breakouts. This article examines the truth behind touching your face and acne. Keep reading.

Does Touching Your Face Cause Acne?

No, touching your face will not cause acne. The main factors that cause acne include:

  • Excess sebum production
  • Bacterial infection (especially acne-causing bacteria like P. acnes and S. aureus)
  • Clogged skin pores and hair follicles

The hair follicles on your skin are connected to the sebaceous glands. Often, excess sebum production, dead skin cells, dirt, impurities, and bacteria get trapped in the follicles or skin pores, causing inflammation and acne.

Several other factors can trigger acne. They include:

  • Hormonal imbalances (may cause excess sebum production, especially during puberty)
  • Corticosteroids (1)
  • Diet (especially food with a high glycemic index) (2)
  • Smoking (3)
  • Stress (3)

While touching your face cannot cause acne, it can certainly exacerbate the issue and worsen inflammation (4).

Your hands come in contact with millions of germs when you touch different surfaces. Most of us unknowingly transfer those germs and dirt to our faces when we touch them. The germs, impurities, and dirt can worsen the active acne. Rubbing your face frequently also triggers acne, which is known as acne mechanica.
It is worse if you poke and fiddle with the acne on your skin. This habit can wound your skin, push the dirt deeper, and worsen the infection further. Hence, it is better to keep your hands off the acne.

While not touching your acne may not help clear the breakouts, it can be the first step towards stopping yourself from touching your face. Here are some tips to help you be mindful each time you are about to scratch your face.

How To Stop Touching Your Face And Picking At Acne

1. Be Mindful

Most of us touch our faces unknowingly, and mindfulness is crucial to avoid this. The next time you are about to touch your face, pause. Think of the reason you were about to touch your face – was it in response to some irritating factor like a stray hair strand on your face or itching? Or is it habitual? When you learn what triggers your action, you are likely not to repeat it.

2. Hold Or Wear Something In Your Hands

Try wearing something on your wrist – perhaps a bangle or trinkets. Every time you move your hand to touch your face, the movement of the objects on your wrist will remind you not to touch it. You can also hold an object in your hand (like tissue paper or a handkerchief). This way, you will be aware of your hand movements.

3. Take Steps To Prevent The Triggers

If you often touch your face to move the stray hair strands, consider tying your hair in a ponytail or using hairbands or hairsprays to keep them in place. If your face gets itchy, and you scratch it often, use a moisturizer to avoid dryness. If you often rub your eyes after staring at the computer for a long time, use eye drops.

4. Ask Your Family And Friends To Help

Ask your family and friends to notify or remind you if they see you touching your face. This can help you be more mindful of your habits.

Often, it is impossible to avoid touching your face. In such situations, wash your hands to clean the dirt, bacteria, and impurities. Acne management encompasses both lifestyle habits and proper treatment. Here are a few tips to help you prevent acne.

Preventing Acne: What You Should Know

1. Modify Your Diet

While the relationship between diet and acne is controversial, foods having a high glycemic index can worsen your acne. Avoid junk foods, cookies, and sugary beverages. Consume fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Milk is also associated with acne as it contains hormones and growth factors that may worsen your condition. If possible, drink organic and hormone-free milk or avoid dairy products (2).

2. Modify Your Skin Care Routine

Besides your diet, you may also alter your skin care routine. Use mild cleansers with salicylic acid to wash your face. Avoid overwashing. Use products with acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil. If you have severe acne, you may need oral medications and topical creams. Consult a dermatologist for proper treatment and product recommendations.

3. Avoid Pimple Popping

Don’t give in to your temptation to pop that red pimple on your face. Squeezing zits causes open wounds and may lead to further infection and inflammation. Pimple popping may often leave behind blemishes and acne scars.

Above all, if you have severe acne, consult a dermatologist immediately. Acne treatment involves a combination of systemic antibiotics and topical therapy.

The Bottom Line

Your fingers are not the culprits behind the breakouts. However, they can worsen your existing acne by spreading dirt and germs accumulated from various surfaces. You must address the underlying factors for proper acne treatment and avoid touching, scratching, and popping the pimples.

If you regularly touch your face, try to minimize the habit, especially when your hands are dirty and sweaty. However, if you do happen to touch your face at times, don’t freak out, as you will not get breakouts just by touching.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Acne
  2. The relationship of diet and acne
  3. Acne and smoking
  4. Skin care for acne-prone skin

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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.