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Does a Hot Compress Each Night for the Face Prevent Acne Flareups?

author image Stan Mack
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.
Does a Hot Compress Each Night for the Face Prevent Acne Flareups?
A young woman checking her face in a mirror. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Lightwavemedia/Getty Images

Acne sufferers will go to great lengths to solve their skin problems, but sometimes a simple solution is all you need. A nightly hot compress, for example, might be enough to improve your complexion, though you should discuss your skin problems with a dermatologist before attempting to treat them yourself. Make a compress by soaking a soft cloth in hot water. Lay it over the affected area for several minutes. If necessary, use a hot-water bottle to keep the hot compress warm.

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Sebaceous glands in your skin produce an oily substance called sebum. Its normal function is to lubricate your hair and skin. But excess sebum in combination with dead skin cells can clog your hair follicles. If bacteria grow within the plugged follicle, acne results due to the ensuing inflammation and infection.

Hot Compresses

Keeping your skin clean is an effective way to deal with mild acne caused by the presence of excess sebum and dead skin cells. The steam created by a hot compress can wash away clogging particles, decreasing the number of plugged follicles. Steam also opens up your pores, loosening existing plugs. Washing your skin after with warm water and a mild facial cleanser will clear away any particles the compress helped loosen.


Hot compresses alone might not be enough to combat severe acne. A mild case might worsen due to a combination of other contributing factors, such as the effects of hormones and certain medications. Your diet also might be to blame, according to, which cites research indicating dairy products can worsen acne. Also problematic are carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, chips and bagels, which rapidly increase your blood sugar levels. If factors like these are contributing to your acne problem, you will need more than nightly hot compresses to improve your skin.


Ask your healthcare provider to recommend suitable acne treatments. For mild cases, hot compresses, topical face washes and skin exfoliants might be sufficient. For more severe cases, special medication creams or solutions might be necessary, such as those that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. For the worst cases, prescription topical and oral medications might be necessary.

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