Pillowcase and Acne Breakouts: What Is The Connection?

After a tiring day at work, all you need is a goodnight's sleep for 6-8 hours. During your sleeping hours, your face is constantly in contact with the pillowcase. It is very clear that anything that touches your face has an impact on the skin.

Cosmetic products available in the market help in clearing up acne, but you can achieve the same results by just using a clean and hygienic pillowcase.

Yes, if you are a sideways sleeper, the pillowcase on which you sleep has a huge role to play when it comes to acne. The pillowcase on which you sleep is a reflection of your skin. The bacteria, dirt and sebum present on your face get collected on the pillowcase. Now, it is very likely that people use the same pillowcase for at least 3-4 nights. During this period, the pillowcase tends to irritate your skin and gives rise to acne.

Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes) is a bacteria, which is responsible for causing acne. If this bacteria is present on your face, there are possibilities that it will multiply and increase in number. By sleeping on the same pillowcase, you re-introduce the bacteria onto your face and this may be harmful to your skin.

All your efforts to clear acne will go in vain if you keep using the same dirty pillowcase. You might be washing your face once you get back home to successfully remove the dirt, but once you hit the same pillow, all the build-up dirt and oil on the pillowcase may come in contact with your pores and find a way back to where they started from. This produces a favorable environment for P. acnes to survive and grow. This cycle seems to be never-ending if you do not change your pillowcases often.

Hence, for healthy and beautiful skin, change your pillowcases from time to time to prevent the re-introduction of the bacteria and dirt from the pillowcases to your skin. Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining good hygiene are the key factors to keep acne at bay.

How often Should You Change Your Pillowcase to Avoid Acne?

Wash your pillowcases as often as you can. Launder them every two to three days if possible.

Use a fragrant-free detergent to wash your pillowcases. Using a fabric softener can leave behind a waxy residue that keeps the scent fresh and the fabric soft. This can get onto your skin and clog your pores.

Even fragrance-free softeners have the same effect, so avoid using those too. If you have bad acne, changing your pillowcase daily may help.

Wash Your Pillowcase Often to Avoid Breakouts

Sleeping Position can Contribute to Acne?

Waking up with irritated skin, even after following a strict night-time beauty regimen, indicates that you need to evaluate the condition of your pillowcase. Besides this, sleeping with your face planted in your pillow can cause breakouts and even lead to acne mechanica.

Acne mechanica is a type of acne that is caused by rubbing and pressure.When you sleep on your stomach or on your side, your cheek comes in contact with the pillowcase. This sleeping position may feel comfortable, but it is not good for your skin, as it causes multiplication of bacteria and dirt. This aggravates acne and can even lead to wrinkles and puffy skin.

Changing your sleeping position may help prevent acne. Train yourself to sleep on your back, so that your face does not come in contact with the pillowcase. Position the pillows around you in such a way that they stop you from rolling over on your side or front. It may take some time to build this habit, but if you are committed, you will learn it in no time.

Changing Your Sleeping Position May Help Prevent Acne

Steps to Avoid Acne Before Bedtime

Before going to bed, make sure that your face as well as the pillowcase on which, you place your face are clean. Here are some steps to follow before hitting your bed:

  • Wash your face daily before going to bed. Wash away all the excess oil, sweat and dirt that get accumulated on the face throughout the day. If left unwashed, this can make your face vulnerable to breakouts and even clog the pores.
  • Remove your cheek, lip and eye makeup from your skin and allow it to breathe.
  • Use a facial cleansing brush to remove dead skin cells and clear the pores. Repeat this process just twice or thrice a week.
  • Dry your face completely using a clean and soft towel.
  • Use a moisturizing lotion or essential oil that can help your skin stay vibrant and protect against acne.
  • Dirty pillowcases become breeding grounds for the bacteria. Do change these pillowcases as often as you can.
  • Use a breathable pillowcase like a mulberry satin pillowcase, as it blocks moisture buildup and prevents overnight breakouts and wrinkles.


  1. Efficacy of Silk - Like Bedding Fabric Pillow Case in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris - (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00767104)
  2. Management of acne - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080563/)
  3. ACNE VULGARIS TREATMENT : THE CURRENT SCENARIO - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088940/)
  4. Acne - (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/symptoms-causes/syc-20368047)

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