Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

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How to Fight Acne By Going to the Sauna

dr jaggi rao Reviewed by Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

If you suffer from acne, then you probably already understand the difficulty of pinpointing its causes with exact certainty. While there are various factors which may be contributing to your breakouts1, the buildup of bacteria and its relationship with your skin’s oiliness, is one of the most common culprits. How can a visit to the sauna help your situation?

Sauna and acne
Sauna helps rejuvenates and cleanse the skin resulting to its healthy and glowing appearance.

Sweating and Acne-Causing Bacteria

Your complexion is generally rich in both good and bad bacteria, but when there is an excessive amount of the harmful kind, your skin tends to act up in order to notify you of the problem. One way in which this happens is that the Propionibacterium acnes, the harmful kind of germ, causes enzymes to react with the your natural oils, resulting in zits. These oils are based on sebum produced by your sebaceous glands, and their overabundance2 causes pimples Although this interaction between germs and oils is a primary cause of acne, various elements can alleviate, as well as aggravate the situation.

Indeed, while your acne can essentially be caused by most things under the sun, the list of acne-fighting remedies is also seemingly endless. One way in which you can relieve your skin from its bacteria and oil is by sweating them out. The high content of antimocrobial peptides in sweat3 serves as an excellent repellent of harmful germs. More concretely, the protein dermcidin which is also found in sweat, counteracts the activity of acne-causing germs. In essence, dermcidin destroys this kind of bacteria, potentially doing away with acne altogether. Specifically, it inhibits the germs’ production of protein and RNA. Not only that, but scientists have found a direct correlation, expressing that the less a person sweats, the less dermcidin they produce, and the more acne they might experience. Fortunately, the converse is also true – the more you sweat, the fewer acne-producing bacteria you will have.

Saunas VS. Acne

And what better, and more fun, way of sweating than visiting a sauna? Saunas have been used for inciting healthy amounts of sweating for dozens of centuries. Sweating in a sauna-like environment decreases the oiliness of your skin and even regulates your skin’s pH levels. All of this immediately decreases the possibility of pimple-formation on your skin. Less sebum, a higher level of skin cohesion, and less skin peeling also contribute to a more fresh, glowing skin. Most importantly, if your skin has these characteristics, then it is almost impossible for acne-causing germs4 to successfully thrive on its surface – leaving you with less bad bacteria and an abundance of good bacteria.

Another more obvious way in which sweating in a sauna can diminish your breakouts  is the deep moisturizing resulting from intense regulated sweating. Your body can become almost twice as hydrated from spending some time in the sauna, leading to an overall improvement of the activities of your skin. What is more, the intense sweating leads to better blood circulation which not only benefits your organism’s overall functioning, but it specifically reduces the risk of acne, as well. If you happen to already be battling severe breakouts, a faster blood flow will encourage your complexion to heal itself and will also stimulate your epithelial cells’ nutrition rate. Last but not least, frequenting saunas has been proven to alleviate stress, which is another major cause of acne5. Your ability to take in oxygen will be increased and your metabolism will also work faster – leading to a generally improved quality of life for your organism.

Is There Any Possible Harm In Frequenting Saunas To Cure Acne?

Not everyone agrees that saunas are beneficial for curing acne. As sweating is also generally associated with unhealthy skin6 and more oiliness, some think that saunas can actually aggravate the condition. While your sweat’s sodium and potassium serve to exfoliate your skin, the removed skin cells and the natural oils can get stuck on the surface of your skin, immediately causing zits. However, as long as you thoroughly wash your skin from the built up sweat, your complexion will be able to breathe freely again, without the burden of dead skin cells. Make sure to avoid going in with any beauty products on your face, so that you can experience the full beneficial effects. Additionally, gently cleanse your face with a mild product some time after exiting, in order to ensure deep cleansing. You might also want to leave the sauna after a quarter of an hour to avoid excessive sweating which can lead to dry skin.


The main possible cause of side effects from visiting a sauna is, of course, the intense heat. As mentioned, this seriously quickens your blood circulation rate to as much as three times its normal rate. Naturally, you should avoid visiting the sauna if you have any health problems related to your blood flow, such as any sort of heart disease, abnormal heart beat, unstable angina, etc. Of course, also skip the sauna if you have been consuming alcohol, as this can inhibit your sweat glands, and prevent you from releasing sweat, and causing overheating.

Moreover, sweat does also produce particles, such as interleukin-1 alpha and beta cytokines, which can lead to skin irritation7.These two call onto the cells working for your immune system and can thus cause pimples by having the cytokines enter your epithelial barrier.

What is more, excessive sweating rids you of a high percentage of electrolytes, disturbing the contents of your blood. This is particularly true if you are new to frequenting saunas, as your body’s sweat may adapt to this later, so make sure to closely monitor your time inside – at least at first. Sweating also diminishes your amino acid storage by as much as half. This serves to decrease your system’s protein availability and your body’s general ability to rework protein into fuel for your organism by messing up your nitrogen balance.

Sauna has been used since ancient times to cure all kinds of physical disorders. Many also attest to its ability to provide relief from certain skin conditions8, such as acne. Still, everyone’s skin is different, so you must enter each session in the sauna with caution, if you intend to try to combat your breakouts with its intensive heating. Moreover, everyone’s type of acne is different, so your pimples may not respond in the same way that someone else’s do. Sauna’s ability to remedy your complexion’s ailment may depend on the exact kind of pimples that you get, on the frequency of their appearance, etc. Indeed, some people report an aggravation of their skin problems due to frequenting the sauna. If you are set on trying out sauna’s benefits on your skin, make sure to do extensive research on the topic, in relation to the exact kind of breakouts that you experience. Regardless of the information you obtain, start off slow, entering the sauna for only a few minutes at a time in order to monitor its effect on your complexion. As usual, the best advice is to consult a dermatologist or another kind of specialist, if you are curious about sauna’s potential effect on your acne.


  1. Ghodsi S.Z., Orawa H., Zouboulis C.C. Prevalence, severity, and severity risk factors of acne in high school pupils: a community-based study. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2009;129(9):2136-41.
  2. Platsidaki E., Dessinioti C. Recent advances in understanding Propionibacterium acnes ( Cutibacterium acnes ) in acne. F1000Research. 2018.
  3. Nakano T., Yoshino T., Fujimura T., Arai S., Mukuno A., Sato N., Katsuoka K. Reduced expression of dermcidin, a peptide active against propionibacterium acnes, in sweat of patients with acne vulgaris. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2015;95(7):783-6.
  4. Prakash C., Bhargava P., Tiwari S., Majumdar B., Bhargava R.K. Skin Surface pH in Acne Vulgaris: Insights from an Observational Study and Review of the Literature. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2017;10(7):33–39.
  5. Yosipovitch G., Tang M., Dawn A.G., Chen M., Goh C.L., Huak Y., Seng L.F. Study of psychological stress, sebum production and acne vulgaris in adolescents. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2007;87(2):135-9.
  6. Kaneko S., Murota H., Murata S., Katayama I., Morita E. Usefulness of Sweat Management for Patients with Adult Atopic Dermatitis, regardless of Sweat Allergy: A Pilot Study. BioMed Research International. 2017.
  7. Corsini E., Galli C.L. Cytokines and irritant contact dermatitis. Toxicology Letters (Journal). 1998;102-103:277-82.
  8. Hannuksela M.L., Ellahham S. Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American Journal of Medicine. 2001;110(2):118-26.
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