I have had the worst acne breakouts this summer. Oddly enough, the pimples have only been popping up on the left side of my face.
I've tried washing that area and applying acne medication more frequently, but those pesky pimples and blackheads keep surfacing near my left ear and upper cheek area.
What could be causing my skin to get so oily, and only on one side? Is it my hair products or my face wash? Could it be the way I sleep? I sometimes sleep with my hands pressed against my face.
I just couldn't figure it out -- and then I had a lengthy phone conversation with a friend.
After I said goodbye, I looked at my phone and realized it was greasy. I had to wipe it clean before touching it again.
The heat, my sweat and a hot phone against my face made my skin oily. It was disgusting, but it also explained my breakouts. I always hold my phone to my left ear.
I recently chatted with Dr. Justin Madson, a local dermatologist at Midwest Dermatology Clinic, about phones and breakouts.
Here's what he had to say:
Leia Mendoza is the editor of Livewellnebraska.com and was a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald for six years. The Omaha native is a marathon runner, triathlete and CrossFitter.
Question: I've been breaking out along my ear and cheekbone. Is it possible that my phone could be the cause?
Answer: Cellphones can trigger acne by physically trapping the oil in the skin, clogging pores and creating an ideal environment for bacteria. Bacteria may also be living on the surface of your phone, and when you talk on a mobile device, your breath creates a warm, moist environment, which is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and germs.
Q: What about my office phone?
A: Yes! Really any surface that comes into contact with your skin for an extended period of time can create the oily reaction and introduce bacteria to the skin. For example, sports helmets are a common cause of acne along the forehead. Football and baseball players often have to combat helmet breakouts.
Q: Are germs and bacteria found on phones?
A: Germs and bacteria particularly like warm, moist surfaces, so if you use your phone a lot, they will thrive.
Q: Do you have any tips for avoiding cellphone breakouts?
A: Using your speaker phones and texting both keep the surface away from your skin. Frequent cleaning may help a bit. Your best bet if you have acne is to see your dermatologist for prescription therapy as well as lifestyle advice.
Other interesting acne facts from Dr. Madson
- Hair and skin products can sometimes contain oils that aggravate acne. Look for oil free, non comedogenic products including makeup, moisturizers, sunscreen and even soap to prevent breakouts.
- Some prescription medicines can cause acne as a side effect.
- Also, touching, picking, and squeezing can cause bigger and worse acne lesions as well as scarring. Fingers introduce bacteria to the skin and really make things worse.
- Most makeup removers don't cleanse the skin. Using those convenient towelettes in place of washing your face is a big no-no! They don't completely remove dirt and bacteria from your face, and that triggers acne.