Aspirin For Acne: Does it Really Work?

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Jyoti Gupta , MD, Dermatologist, Dermatologist
Written by Ramona Sinha

Popping aspirin for headache, fever, and cold is a common practice. Applying crushed aspirin on acne is also an equally common DIY practice that many people follow without thinking twice. The question is, is there any scientific reasoning behind it? Does topical aspirin really work for acne? Scroll down to find out.

Aspirin: Does It Has Any Role In Dermatology?

Aspirin is used as an analgesic for relieving pain. However, with time, it has evolved from its traditional role as a pain reliever and become a drug that has a wide range of applications.

In dermatology, aspirin is used in off-label and unapproved ways. It is beneficial in the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon, erythema nodosum (a type of skin inflammation), vitiligo, postherpetic neuralgia, skin changes caused by niacin, sunburn reaction, mild type 1 lepra reactions, and an itchy skin condition associated with polycythemia vera (1).

Another study found that topical application of aspirin could help reduce histamine-induced swelling and redness. The study involved 24 patients with skin rashes caused by sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) (2).

Therefore, aspirin, when used both orally and topically, can help control the symptoms of several skin conditions. But, is it equally effective on acne?

Aspirin For Acne: Is It Effective?

So far, there is no scientific proof that aspirin can reduce acne.

So why do people use aspirin for acne? The idea behind using aspirin for acne stems from the fact that aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a popular topical medication for acne. Acetylsalicylic acid is a synthetic derivative of salicylic acid. It is created by a chemical reaction between salicylic acid and acetic acid (3). They may sound similar, but aspirin is not the same as salicylic acid and vice versa.

However, many people who used crushed aspirin on acne, especially inflammatory acne, have seen results. How is it possible?

Inflammatory acne is caused when your pores are clogged by dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria. Once these pores are unclogged, the infection disappears, and the inflammation reduces. Aspirin is mainly used for reducing inflammation, but its efficacy in lowering acne-related inflammation is not known.

The main idea behind using aspirin for acne is to use acetylsalicylic acid – the way salicylic acid is used – to treat acne. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes, it doesn’t. Aspirin helps dry out the inflammation, which could clear the infection and reduce acne.

Although clinical studies are showing the efficacy of aspirin in reducing skin inflammation related to multiple conditions, there’s no scientific evidence to support this popular DIY remedy for acne. If you still want to try using aspirin to treat acne, we are here to help you.

Check out the next section.

How To Use Aspirin For Acne

There is no specific way to use aspirin on your face for acne. As it is a home remedy, there is just a general method of using it. However, you can add a few ingredients to modify it according to your’s skin’s needs.

To use aspirin:

  • Crush a few aspirin tablets in a bowl.
  • Add enough warm water to create a paste.
  • Once you get the desired consistency, use the paste as a spot treatment.
  • Apply the paste on the inflamed area and leave it on for a maximum of 15 minutes.
  • Wash it off with warm water.
  • You may follow it up with a moisturizer.

To this mixture, you may add:

  • Aloe vera gel – It helps reduce inflammation when applied on the skin (4).
  • Tea tree oil (just a drop or two) – It helps in treating mild to moderate acne (5).
  • Witch hazel – It has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe acne (6).

These ingredients can help clear the infection and reduce acne. You can add them to the aspirin and water paste and use it as a spot treatment. You can repeat the process once every day until the infection has cleared.

There are several precautions that you should follow when using aspirin on your skin as it has certain side effects.

Possible Side Effects Of Topical Aspirin And Precautions

  • Aspirin can dry out your skin and may worsen breakouts. Therefore, avoid using too much of it on your skin.
  • It may cause skin irritation along with redness and flakiness. Instead of using it all over your face, use it only for spot treatment. Also, follow it up with a moisturizer.
  • If you are using salicylic acid or any other acne treatment on your skin, avoid using aspirin. It may dry out your skin further.
  • It may increase your skin’s sun sensitivity. Always apply sunscreen when going out in direct sunlight.
  • Avoid using aspirin for acne if you are pregnant or lactating.
  • Avoid aspirin if you are allergic to Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs, such as Advil and Ibuprofen.

It is better to be cautious when applying anything on your skin because you don’t want to aggravate your condition further. Stick to proper acne medication and whatever your doctor recommends. Topical aspirin may not work for everyone. No matter which treatment option you choose, always consult a dermatologist for better results.

We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments section, and we will get back to you.


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Dr. Jyoti Gupta

(MD, Dermatologist)
Dr. Jyoti Gupta is a board-certified (IADVL) dermatologist specializing in cosmetic, laser, and hair transplant surgery. She has done over... more