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Is your pillowcase causing your acne?

Patch Kroll • Feb 16, 2022

“I’ve tried everything to solve my acne: using face wash every day, buying stuff that reduces oil on my face... everything. But somehow I still keep having these random breakouts. I feel like I’m clean so why is this happening?”

Lots of factors can cause acne but the most common is actually hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Men can have high levels of testosterone that produce more oily skin and thus more acne. Other factors can include high carb or high sugar diets, sweating without washing off the oil and debris, and simple genetics.

Most of the time for serious acne you need prescription medicine to solve it, but there’s one potential culprit that can be causing some of your breakout troubles.

Your pillow case.

How dirty is your pillowcase?

As humans, our natural habits can build up hundreds of thousands of the microscopic germs in the form of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. Sheets and pillowcases especially get exposed to sweat and body oils to become a breeding ground for acne’s biggest contributor: bacteria.

Dust mites and their feces produce proteins that cause red and itchy eyes, runny noses, and other cold-like symptoms in people who are allergic.

Pillow cases can start to grow microscopic fungus very quickly, and one study found that a typical pillow has as many as 16 different species of fungus and literally millions of fungal spores. Most common among them, Aspergillus fumigatus, is potentially dangerous because it can infect your lungs and other organs.

A study found that unwashed pillow cases and sheets had up to 39 times more bacteria than pet-food bowls and several thousand times more bacteria than a toilet seat, including types like Staphylococcus aureus, which in some rare cases can be deadly.

So yes, it’s likely that your pillowcase is grosser than your toilet bowl.

Can my pillowcase be causing my acne?

Yes! All that bacteria build up could be contributing to the bacteria level of your face. The more bacteria that makes its way into your pores, the more likely that the pore will become infected and inflamed – what we usually recognize as acne.

People commonly also forget that using items like hand towels in the bathroom on your face could be riddled with bacteria just like your pillow.

As a general rule of thumb, be mindful of what you’re putting in contact with your skin as it could be transferring acne-causing bacteria.

Q: How often should I change my pillowcase?
A: Every Week.

Changing your pillowcase at least every week ensures that debris and oils aren’t building up over time.

In addition, you should try to be mindful of your face’s oil levels. If you’re prone to oily skin, like most guys, you may be more likely to break out, and that can be worsened by things like working out without washing your face afterwards. Keep some face wipes around so that you can remove oil during the day.

You can always use spot treatments as well to actively treat acne. Check out our acne fader, Fade, that covers and treats acne at the same time.

Zit Wipes for Men