Scrubbing Away at Your Skin? Here's Why You…

Exfoliating Scrubs - Jerome Tisne Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Jerome Tisne Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Updated December 15, 2014.

Question: Should I Use a Scrub for My Acne?

I’ve been using an abrasive scrub twice a day, to get my skin squeaky clean. So why isn’t my acne getting any better?


Scrubs may be one of the most common types of exfoliants. Scrubs manually remove dead skin cells by means of an abrasive ingredient. Many people love the soft and smooth feeling you get after a good scrubbing. But scrubs can be very harsh, especially on skin that is already inflamed due to acne breakouts.

Acne sufferers often want to scrub at the face, thinking the scrubbing really helps to cleanse out pores and reduce breakouts. In actuality, vigorous scrubbing can increase irritation and redness, aggravate already inflamed skin, and exacerbate breakout activity. Those with acne, especially breakouts that are inflamed, crusting, oozing, or open sores, should avoid scrubs altogether.

This doesn’t mean acne-prone skin shouldn’t be exfoliated regularly. There are other ways to exfoliate the skin without resorting to an abrasive, and potentially irritating, product. Some good exfoliating acne treatments include:

These products aid in the removal of excess dead skin cells, help keep pores clear, and inhibit the formation of comedones. Remember, regular exfoliation is an important step in treating acne. It’s just all a matter of how you do it.

United States. NIAMS/National Institutes of Health. “Questions and Answers About Acne.” Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.