Why Is Acne More Common in the Summer Months?

June 7, 2023

Man looking at acne in the mirror - why is acne more common in the summer months

If you have acne, you’ve probably noticed that breakouts seem to be worse during certain times of the year. Every person is different, but many acne sufferers have much more severe breakouts during the summer. According to Dr. Jean Charles of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Cedar Park Texas, “Acne breakouts can happen year-round, but during the summer, the humid weather, higher than average sweat production, increased sun exposure, and more frequent sunscreen application can all lead to an increased risk for breakouts and make it more difficult to heal skin during an active acne breakout. Your dermatologist can help you develop a skincare routine that will reduce the risk for acne breakouts during the summer months.” In this blog, Dr. Charles describes some of the reasons acne is more common in the summer months as well as offers recommendations to treat and prevent breakouts.

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What Causes Summer Acne Breakouts?

When it comes to the cause of summertime acne breakouts, Dr. Charles says, “Heat and humidity, sweating, more time outdoors, and increased use of sunscreen can all cause a greater risk for more frequent and more severe acne breakouts. The issue is that when we sweat, dead skin cells stay stuck to the skin and are less likely to be naturally removed. The additional oils on the skin from sweat and sunscreen can keep these dead skin cells trapped in the pores. This will cause a blemish on its own, but trapping dead skin cells, oils, and dirt and grime from the environment inside of pores creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Acne-causing bacteria transform typical blemishes into painful, harder-to-treat infected acne breakouts.”

How to Prevent Acne During the Summer

To prevent summertime acne breakouts before they begin, Dr. Charles says, “The most important thing to do is work with your dermatologist to adjust your skincare routine with the seasons and understand what aspects of seasonal changes make acne worse. This ensures you’re using the best products to address issues related to each season. During the spring and summer, that might mean improving your cleansing routine, changing out or skipping toner, and picking an anti-comedogenic sunscreen.” Below, Dr. Charles outlines their top three skincare recommendations to reduce the effects of summertime weather on acne-prone skin.

1 – Change up Your Cleansing Routine

Whether you’re enjoying time outdoors or working out, sweat can be a big problem during the hot summer months. First and foremost, make sure you are wearing sweat-wicking and breathable clothes to avoid trapping excess moisture against the skin. As soon as you are done working out or spending time outdoors, you should ideally take a shower. If you can’t shower right away, dry off and change clothes. While washing skin after sweating is important in the summertime, cleansing too often can actually cause more breakouts. While removing excess oil is important, stripping away too much moisture from the skin can cause irritation or inflammation. When skin becomes dry, it can lead to increased oil production. This will cause increased pore congestion. Rather than washing excessively, try to plan your cleansing routine around workouts or time outdoors, so you are consistently cleansing skin twice a day. Use a gentle cleanser and make sure to apply moisturizer right after showering, bathing, or washing your face. A foaming cleanser is often a good option since they are light and easy to fully rinse from the skin. In addition to keeping the face and body clean, don’t neglect your scalp. The heat of summer means more head sweat, which can lead to blemishes below the hairline. You may want to choose a non-comedogenic shampoo that will cleanse your hair without drying out the scalp.

2 – Reassess Your Toner

While toners are not an essential part of a skincare routine, they can be helpful for those with acne-prone and oily skin, especially during the summer. They help to reduce oiliness and balance the skin’s pH. However, many toners are too drying, and they leave acne-prone skin feeling irritated and inflamed which can worsen acne. Find a toner that has salicylic acid or other oil-reducing ingredients combined with soothing or hydrating ingredients. If you’re finding skin is still too irritated or inflamed using toner, you may want to substitute a hydrating serum with salicylic acid instead.

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3 – Non-Comedogenic Sunscreen

There is a misconception that sunlight is good for the skin. However, acne-prone skin can be more sensitive to the sun, and burns can happen more easily or cause more discomfort during acne breakouts. In addition to sunburns, sun exposure has many negative long-term effects like skin cancer and accelerated signs of aging like wrinkles and dark spots. Unfortunately, many sunscreens contribute to clogged pores and acne breakouts. For this reason, it’s important to find a non-comedogenic sunscreen. Non-comedogenic or anti-comedogenic skincare products are formulated to reduce the risk of blemishes. You should look for an oil-free sunscreen that is designated non-comedogenic and still offers broad-spectrum protection (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays) and has an SPF of 30 or higher. MD Skin Essentials Silk Shield is a great sunscreen option for acne-prone skin. it delivers advanced protection while keeping skin hydrated and avoiding residue on the skin that can cause breakouts.

How to Clear Up Acne Quickly

According to Dr. Charles, “Clearing up acne isn’t always a quick process. Even the most effective acne treatments can take up to three months to work, so it’s important to be patient and give the treatment time. One of the worst things for acne is to repeatedly change your treatment approach or keep introducing new products that can lead to more blemishes. If you’re practicing the preventive steps we already outlined, you are off to a good start to prevent and clear up your acne breakouts. You can also use spot treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to more quickly clear up blemishes.” If you’re looking for products that can help you clear up irritated and stubborn acne blemishes, consider adding Epionce Purifying Spot Gel to your daily skincare routine. It not only helps to clear breakouts, but it also helps to prevent new blemishes before they develop. You may also want to consider ZO Skin Health Complexion Renewal Pads. These are the grown-up version of those acne-fighting cleanser wipes you might have used as a teen. Unlike products that are very drying and irritating, the gentle ingredients in ZO Skin Health Complexion Renewal Pads clear out pores, balance pH, and clarify skin without drying.

Learn More About Treatment Options for Acne & General Skin Health

If you’re struggling with summer acne breakouts or you want to improve the health and appearance of your skin, the U.S. Dermatology Partners team makes it easy to schedule a visit with us. Just take a few moments to complete our online scheduling request form. Once we hear from you, a local dermatology team member will be in touch to answer your questions and finalize your appointment schedule.

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