Dry skin is characterized as rough, flaky, and patchy. Problems with dry skin don’t stop there and they can be a concern. They can even extend to dry skin acne. When acne comes to mind, we immediately think of oily skin. But can dry skin lead to acne too? This article discusses whether dry skin causes and worsens acne and the things you can do about it.

Causes of Dry Skin

The primary cause of dry skin is the loss of moisture or hydration from the outer layer of the skin. Various factors lead to skin dehydration including:

  • Heat: space heaters, fireplaces, central heating, and other forms of heating reduce humidity and contribute to water loss from your skin.
  • Harsh ingredients: skincare products, shampoos, lotions, and shower gels that contain harsh ingredients may strip moisture from your skin because they’re formulated to remove oil. This can lead to dryness and dry skin acne.
  • Environment: cold, low-humidity, and windy conditions can also negatively affect the hydration of your skin and contribute to dryness.
  • Too much cleansing or scrubbing: overdoing your skincare routine causes negative consequences such as loss of hydration and increased risk of dry skin.

Other causes of dry skin are medical treatments e.g. cancer treatment, skin conditions such as eczema, and the natural aging process. Genetic factors and sun exposure are also implicated in the development of dry skin.

Can You Have Acne If Your Skin Is Dry?

Dry skin isn’t a direct cause of acne, but it can contribute to their development. More precisely, dry skin can indirectly cause acne. When your skin is dry it may produce excess dead skin cells, which combine with sebum (oil) and clog your pores. Plus, it may trigger the production of sebum in your skin. These factors may lead to the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and lead to the onset of acne. Can dry skin cause acne to become worse? Find out further in this post.


What Causes Dry Skin Acne?

Dry skin acne results from excessive accumulation of dead skin cells. Keep in mind that acne develops when hair follicles are clogged. As dead skin cells keep building up on your skin, they block the opening of your hair follicles and clog them, which paves the way for acne and other skin problems.

Acne is usually associated with oily skin, but it’s not about the skin type per se. Some people have acne-prone skin. What is acne-prone skin then? Acne-prone skin is skin that is susceptible to the development of acne, blackheads, or whiteheads. People with acne-prone skin may have acne breakouts that come and go.

Moreover, dry skin makes pores more likely to open. When that happens, acne-causing bacteria reach deeper into the skin and may lead to breakouts. While frustrating, dry skin acne is a manageable problem.

You’re more susceptible to dry skin acne if you use products that clog your pores or overdo your skincare routine.

Does Dry Skin Make Acne Worse?

Not only can dry skin cause acne, but it can worsen the problem in people who already have it. When your skin is dry, it may trigger the production of sebum to compensate for the lack of moisture or hydration. Then, produced sebum mixes with the buildup of dead skin cells and causes more severe acne breakouts.

So if you have acne, skin dryness could exacerbate the problem. Many people attempt to dry out a pimple thinking they’re going to fix their acne, but if you don’t do it right, your acne could become worse. That’s why it’s important to learn how to dry out a pimple safely.

Prevention and Treatment of Dry Skin Acne

Dry skin acne can affect your confidence and self-esteem, but it’s possible to prevent and manage this problem. The most important strategies for the prevention and management of acne on dry skin are described below.

1. Follow a regular skincare routine

The cornerstone of acne prevention and treatment is a regular skincare routine. Your skincare regimen should consist of regular cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

2. Use a hydrating cleanser

The first product to use in your skincare routine is a cleanser. A common mistake among people with acne is that they use harsh cleansers hoping they will dry out pimples and remove excess oil. Use mild, hydrating cleansers instead. These cleansers remove all the impurities while nourishing your skin at the same time. As a result, oil production is easier to control and acne is less likely to appear. You’ll find out how to dry out a pimple further in this post without the use of harsh cleansers.

3. Try a retinol (in moderation)

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, promotes skin cell turnover, prevents the accumulation of dead skin cells, and reduces inflammation. As one of the best skincare ingredients, retinol helps regulate sebum production. Evidence confirms retinol is the mainstay in acne treatment. Using retinol in moderation can also prevent acne. Products such as Suvoderm Retinol Cream can help you soothe and nourish skin for an acne-free and rejuvenated look.

4. Moisturize

Moisturizer prevents or treats acne by maintaining skin hydration and preventing excessive dryness. That way, your skin doesn’t need to compensate with excessive sebum production that causes or worsens acne. A good example of a high-quality hydrating product is Infusoderm Deep Hydration Daily Moisturizer which revitalizes your skin, protects it against damage, and provides nourishment.

5. Avoid overwashing

While it may seem logical to wash your face frequently to prevent or manage acne, it does more harm than good. Overwashing strips natural oils from your skin and causes dryness and irritation. It can also encourage excessive sebum production and worsen your acne. Wash your face twice a day and you won’t have to wonder about questions such as “can dry skin cause acne”.

6. Exfoliate gently to clear pores and dead skin

Understanding what is acne-prone skin might suggest the need to reevaluate your skincare routine. Your regimen should include exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and prevent them from accumulating on the skin. Do this routine once or twice a week with a gentle exfoliant.

7. Anti-acne treatments

You’ve probably looked for different tips on how to dry out a pimple. Most treatments are quite easy. Find an anti-acne treatment that suits you and apply it to the affected areas only. The treatment should work to cleanse the site, dissolve skin oils, and heal. A great anti-acne treatment to try is the Zeroblem Blemish Treatment Serum, which calms irritation, reduces redness and takes care of acne and blemishes without affecting other areas of the skin. This product also prevents future flare-ups.

While the above tips are all recommended, it’s important to consult a dermatologist on how to dry out a pimple before trying out questionable techniques you find online.


Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Skin Acne

Can acne treatments cause dry skin?

Yes, some acne treatments can cause dry skin. Topical medications containing benzoyl peroxide may strip the skin of natural oils and cause dryness, flaking, and irritation. Use these products as recommended and make sure to apply a moisturizer regularly to avoid this problem.

Is dry or oily skin more prone to acne?

Oily skin is more prone to acne due to excess sebum associated with hormonal changes and environmental factors. However, not everyone with oily skin develops acne. It’s important to understand what is acne-prone skin and its distinction from oily skin. People with dry skin can develop acne as well.

Does dry skin clog pores?

Dry skin can clog pores due to flakiness and excessive production of dead skin cells. Dead skin cells often build up on the skin and when mixed with sebum can clog your pores. Therefore, not only can dry skin cause acne, but it can also contribute to an uneven complexion. You can avoid this problem by exfoliating and regularly moisturizing your skin.

Bottom line

For most people, the common answer to the question “what is acne-prone skin” is oily skin. This isn’t entirely correct, however. People with oily skin are prone to acne, but this skin problem also affects men and women with other skin types, including dry skin. Dry skin acne can be bothersome, but you can prevent and manage it by modifying your skincare routine. All you need is a regular skincare regimen with gentle ingredients, and the discipline to follow it as necessary. These should motivate you more in your goal to have healthy and blemish-free skin.


1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9129002/
2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279208/
3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295855/
4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080563/
5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574737/

Dr. Ahmed Zayad

Dr. Ahmed Zayad

Dr. Zayed, has years of experience in the field and has been contributing to public health awareness. Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. Egypt. Dr. Zayed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. His articles were featured on many websites like HuffingtonPost, Chicagotribune . Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Zayed spends his time outside the hospital, either reading or at the gym.

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayad

More stories

Winter Skincare: Use the Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin

When it comes to skincare, setting a routine you can use throughout the year might be essential. What you don’t realize is that your skin needs can...

Understanding Basic Skin Tone Names + Beauty Tips

Are you having trouble finding the right foundation, blush, bronzer, or concealer? Do you struggle with identifying your skin tone, which makes it ...