Why Acne Can Worsen in the Summer

Man applying cream to acne Why Acne Can Worsen in the Summer

Acne is a problem year-round for millions of people, but for many, summer can complicate things further. Learn how acne worsens in the summer and the steps you can take to prevent breakouts.

Why Does Summer Make Acne Worse?

Whether acne is new to you or something you’ve dealt with your entire adult life, you may not know everything that can exacerbate the condition. From the food you eat to the medications you take, there are so many acne triggers hiding in plain sight. While the summer should be a time of outdoor fun, backyard barbecues, and pool parties, it can also bring on breakouts, blackheads, and back acne.

So what is it about summer that can trigger acne? Most people with acne also have oily skin. That oil, or sebum, is produced by the sebaceous glands that are contained within hair follicles. While sebum is necessary to our skin’s health, too much of it can be a bad thing. Practically every part of the summer is trying to make your skin more oily. From thick, potentially pore-clogging sunscreen to sweaty heat, there’s nothing about summer that’s easy on acne-prone skin. Sweat can actually do more than just cause oil production to skyrocket—it can help keep dirt and bacteria trapped on your skin. Sweat and blustery, polluted summer air combine to throw more gunk and stress at your already struggling skin. Clogged pores back up with oil, and that oil develops into whiteheads or blackheads. These acne breakouts can be more than just an unsightly mess. Pimples can be uncomfortable or even painful and cause infection.

Keeping Summer Acne to a Minimum

So how do you keep your skin from bearing the brunt of what all that summer heat has to offer? The act of wiping away sweat and oil from our skin can actually make matters worse. Blotting and dabbing away sweat or over-cleansing the skin will damage the natural barrier our skin produces to protect itself. For people with acne-prone skin, that’s a one-way ticket to breakouts. Some sunscreens, which are absolutely necessary for your skin year-round, may not be the best for acne-prone skin. Some sunscreens can contain oils that only contribute to the problem.

Your own skincare routine may be responsible for summertime acne. In the winter, heavier creams and moisturizers may be necessary to combat dryness. But with summer comes humidity, and all of that thick, oily winter moisturizer may be way too much for your skin now. Lighten up, and you may feel a lot better in your own skin.

Acne isn’t just a problem for the face, though that’s most people’s biggest problem area. Body acne can happen to anyone, occurring on the back, chest, and shoulders most commonly. Sweat from physical activity in the heat can clog pores and lead to worse body acne. It may make swimsuit season more uncomfortable for you if you’re dealing with breakouts everywhere. Though there should be no shame in acne, we’re only human, and it can feel like the odds are stacked against our skin when acne strikes. Wear light, breathable clothing to reduce sweating and opt for body wash with salicylic acid or other acne-fighting substances. Keep cool with fans or air conditioners. There’s no better climate for your skin than a well-balanced, air-conditioned interior during the dog days of summer.


Acne doesn’t have to get worse this summer. Talk to the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates and make sure that acne doesn’t keep you on the sidelines this season.

Request an Appointment

Patient Forms About Us
Book Online

Areas We Serve