Phone-induced Acne – Causes and Prevention

Acne vulgaris, also known as acne, Pimples or zits is one of the most common skin problems most especially among teenagers and young adults but it can affect any age group though.

Acne is an inflammation of the skin that occurs when your hair follicles are blocked and clogged with oil, dead skin cells and other impurities. This inflammation leads to breakouts, spots, whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples and they usually appear on your face, shoulders, upper back, and chest.

A lot of people suffering from stubborn acne that seems resistant to treatments might actually be suffering from cell-phone induced acne and this type can only be treated when you know the source and you know how to control or prevent it.

Causes Of Acne

Phone-Induced Acne

There are four main factors that cause acne and they are:

  1. Bacteria
  2. Clogged hair follicles or skin clogged skin pores
  3. Hormonal Imbalance and hyperactivity
  4. Excess oil production in your skin

Bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) are one of the causal microorganisms of acne. One of such ways we come in contact with P. acne is through our phones. We will talk on this later.

Excess production of oil clogs your hair follicles and this leads to breakouts and acne. This is why those with oily skin are more susceptible to acne than other skin types. The bacterium P. acne feeds on the sebum or oil below your skin and this makes them thrive well and cause acne. The more oil your skin produces, the more your risks of acne and this can be a long-term condition.


An excess amount of hormones in your body can cause acne. An example of this type of hormone is the hormone androgen which is produced in a large quantity during puberty. Excess of this hormone leads to acne and this is why teenagers experience acne during puberty. During pregnancy, the amount of androgen in a woman’s body is low and this can also worsen acne.

Inflammation and breakouts occur when your hair follicles are clogged and blocked with oil, dead skin cells and other impurities. Some factors like diet (greasy foods), carbohydrate foods, and milk worsen acne but they don’t cause acne according to some health experts. They just make this condition worse in those who already have it. Stress, some drugs like corticosteroids and oily makeup products can also aggravate or worsen acne.

Your Skin and Bacteria

There are lots of bacteria on your skin, some are friendly and some are not. During puberty, the number of bacteria on One’s skin increases. Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is one the bacteria present on your skin, it thrives very well on oily skin because it feeds on the oil, dead skin cells and other impurities on your skin.

This bacterium produces a substance that breaks down the oil your skin produces and feeds on it. The more oil or dirt you have on your skin increases the population of this bacterium on your skin.

The presence and activities of this bacterium on your skin trigger a response from your immune system leading to inflammation, irritations, breakouts, and other symptoms associated with acne.

Cell Phone-Induced Acne

Phone addiction is one of the many problems young individuals are facing in this modern time, we touch our phones more than anything else in a day. Your phone is a medium through which the bacterium P. acne can come in contact with your skin.

Many dangers of cell phones are known like blue light, tech neck, eye pain, and harmful radiation but that of acne induced by your cell phone is unknown to many people. There are lots of bacteria on your phone but you cannot see them because they are microscopic. A study showed that a cell phone carries more bacteria than a public toilet.

Your cell phones are always in your hands, we drop them sometimes on dirty surfaces and there are some people who carry their cell phones even into the toilet, all these are ways your cell phones can pick up microorganisms.

Many people touch a lot of dirty things and surfaces and touch their phones almost immediately without washing their hands. Many don’t even have the habit of cleaning their phones regularly to reduce the amount of these bacteria on their phones.


Oils and other substances from your makeup and face and toxins from the environment settle on your phone screen, this serves as a magnet for bacteria and makes your phone a safe haven for these dangerous microbes. When you make or receive a call, your bacteria-infested phone comes in contact with your skin and you introduce these bacteria to your skin unknowingly.

They stay on your skin, they clog your pores or hair follicles, they feed on the sebum/oil produced on your skin and cause irritations, breakouts, and inflammation.

Another way your phone induces acne is through the pressure you apply on your skin when using your phone. Dermatologists have come to understand that the pressure you place on your cheeks or skin when using your phone can induce the formation of breakouts and acne.

When you place your phone on your skin with pressure, it makes your skin to perspire, it also increases the amount of oil trapped in the pores of your skin and this accelerates your risks of acne.

How To Prevent Acne Induced by Cell Phone?

Now that you’ve known the 2 main ways your phone can cause acne which is by harboring bacteria and by pressure, we will be looking at the ways we can prevent or reduce the risks of phone induced acne.  There are four main ways you can prevent or reduce your risks of acne and they are:

Clean Your Phone Regularly

One of the ways to prevent phone-induced acne is to clean your phone regularly. You can do these at least once every day. You can make use of a microfiber cloth or antibacterial wipes and use it in cleaning your phone.

Another method is to soak a cotton wool in a little quantity of methylated spirit and clean your phone with it. If you are trying to treat stubborn acne, I think you should make this a compulsory routine.

Still, clean your every day if it doesn’t look dirty. There are also cell phones sanitizers online, you should buy them if you can. This device lets you clean your phone’s surface using UV light.

Avoid Putting Pressure on Your Cheeks When Using Your Phone

Remember we said the second way phones cause acne is through the pressure we apply on our cheeks when using the phone.

Many people hold their phones strongly against their cheeks when making or receiving calls. This causes acne by stimulating your oil gland to produce more oil, this will induce acne, breakouts, and inflammation.

Holding your phone with so much pressure against your cheeks increases your risks of acne and blemishes. You don’t have to hold your phone tight against your skin but you can hold it firmly so that it won’t fall, but the pressure of the phone on your skin should be low.


Make Use of Headphones, Bluetooth Devices Or Earpiece

Make use of Headphones and earpiece to reduce the number of contacts your phone has with your skin. This is a good way to handle your phone if you don’t clean it regularly. You can choose to text more if you don’t have an earpiece or headphone for now.

Clean Your Face Regularly

Anyone struggling with persistent acne should have a regular face care regime, this will help to prevent clogged skin and dirty skin and by so doing, there won’t be an exchange of microbes from your skin to your phone and back to your skin.

Use natural and original face cleansers because harsh and chemical-based products will only aggravate the condition.

Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.

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