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Why Is My Acne Itchy? And How To Find Relief

By Dr. Luna Rey

Updated On

This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, regardless of age or gender. It occurs when the hair follicles on the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, leading to the formation of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. While acne is often associated with the adolescent years, it can persist well into adulthood for some individuals.

Key takeaways:

Itchy acne is a common and frustrating symptom that can accompany acne breakouts. It is often caused by inflammation and the buildup of excess oil and bacteria in the pores.
Itchy acne does not necessarily mean the acne is healing. The itchiness can be a sign of active inflammation and irritation. As the acne lesions begin to heal, some itching may occur as the skin regenerates.
Scratching or picking at itchy acne can further exacerbate the condition, leading to increased inflammation, infection, and scarring. It’s important to avoid the urge to itch.

Itchy Acne: Here’s What You Need To Know

One of the most frustrating aspects of acne is the itchiness that sometimes accompanies it. Itchy acne can be both physically and emotionally distressing, leading to discomfort, self-consciousness, and the temptation to scratch or pick at the affected areas, which can further exacerbate the condition. Understanding the causes of itchy acne and learning how to manage it effectively is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and overall well-being.

Acne Itchy

What Causes Itchy Acne?

There are several potential reasons why acne may become itchy. One of the primary causes is inflammation. When the body’s immune system detects the presence of bacteria or other foreign substances in the clogged pores, it triggers an inflammatory response. This inflammation can cause redness, swelling, and itchiness around the affected area.

Another factor that contributes to itchy acne is the presence of excess oil or sebum on the skin. This oily substance can trap bacteria and dead skin cells within the pores, leading to the development of acne lesions. The buildup of sebum can also create a breeding ground for certain types of fungi, which can further aggravate the condition and cause itching.

In some cases, itchy acne may be a sign of an underlying skin condition or allergic reaction. For example, individuals with eczema or contact dermatitis may experience itchy acne as a secondary symptom of their primary skin condition.

Avoid The Urge To Itch

While the urge to scratch itchy acne can be overwhelming, it’s important to resist the temptation. Scratching or picking at acne lesions can lead to further inflammation, infection, and scarring. It can also spread bacteria from one area of the skin to another, exacerbating the condition.

Instead of scratching, try to identify and address the underlying causes of the itchiness. Applying a cold compress or taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can help alleviate the itching sensation temporarily. Additionally, using gentle, non-comedogenic skincare products and avoiding harsh scrubbing or exfoliation can help prevent further irritation.

How To Control Itchy Acne?

Fortunately, there are several effective strategies for managing itchy acne and reducing the associated discomfort. Here are some recommended approaches:

Keeping the affected areas clean and free of excess oil and bacteria is crucial. Gently cleanse the skin with a mild, fragrance-free soap or cleanser twice daily, and avoid over-washing, which can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate the problem.

Over-the-counter or prescription-strength topical creams, gels, or lotions containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and combat acne-causing bacteria.

In more severe cases of itchy acne, your dermatologist may recommend oral medications, such as antibiotics or isotretinoin (Accutane), to address the underlying causes and reduce inflammation.

Stress can worsen acne and exacerbate itching, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress levels, such as practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular exercise, or seeking professional counseling if needed.

While the direct link between diet and acne is still debated, some research suggests that consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates, dairy products, and foods with a high glycemic index may contribute to acne flare-ups. Adopting a balanced, nutrient-rich diet may help alleviate acne symptoms, including itchiness.

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams or calamine lotion can provide temporary relief from itchy acne by reducing inflammation and soothing the skin.

Also Read: Is Niacinamide Good For Acne? Does It Pose Any Risks?


Itchy acne can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, but with the right approach, it is manageable. By understanding the underlying causes, avoiding the urge to scratch or pick, and implementing a comprehensive skincare routine that includes both topical and lifestyle interventions, individuals can effectively control itchy acne and promote healthier, more comfortable skin. Remember, seeking guidance from a dermatologist can be invaluable in developing a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and concerns.


1. Does itchy acne mean it’s healing?

Not necessarily. Itchy acne can be a sign of active inflammation or irritation, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the acne is in the healing process. However, as acne lesions begin to heal, some itching may occur as the skin regenerates and repairs itself.

2. How do I stop my acne from itching?

To stop acne from itching, try applying a cold compress, using over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams or calamine lotion, and avoiding harsh scrubbing or picking at the affected areas. Additionally, maintaining good hygiene, using gentle skincare products, and managing stress can help reduce itchiness.

3. What kind of acne is itchy?

Itchy acne can occur with various types of acne lesions, including papules (red, inflamed bumps), pustules (pus-filled bumps), and cysts (deep, painful bumps). Inflammatory acne, which involves redness and swelling, is more likely to be accompanied by itchiness.

4. What are the signs that your acne is healing?

Signs that acne is healing include a decrease in redness, swelling, and inflammation, as well as the formation of a scab or dry crust over the lesion. Additionally, the itching sensation may subside as the acne lesions begin to heal.

5. What are the last stages of acne?

The last stages of acne typically involve the formation of cystic lesions or nodules, which are deep, painful, and often result in scarring if not treated properly. These severe forms of acne often require prescription medication or other medical interventions to manage effectively.


Dr. Luna Rey

Dr. Luna Rey is a renowned dermatologist who has established herself as an authority in diagnosing and managing a diverse array of skin disorders. Her expertise encompasses both common conditions such as acne and eczema, as well as more complex dermatological issues like psoriasis and skin malignancies. Complementing her clinical practice, Dr. Rey has cultivated a profound passion for writing, which has led her to contribute numerous articles to prestigious medical journals. Her writing is characterized by its clarity, concision, and accessibility, enabling her work to resonate with a wide readership.

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