During the pandemic, many teenagers with acne problems were grateful for having to wear a mask on the street because it helped them hide the pimples that made them so self-conscious. In fact, some kids decided to continue with it even when the obligation to wear them indoors was lifted. Having half their face covered allowed them to hide pimples and acne marks, but it also worsened the condition of their skin. Result: they entered a loop in which they did not remove their masks because their faces were getting worse and worse.
Wearing masks for so many hours didn’t do any good for pimpled skin, nor do stress, greasy cosmetics… and cell phones. Yes, the cell phone. Abusing your phone can trigger and even aggravate acne breakouts on the side of your face where the device rests. “A clinical study carried out in 2020 concluded that mobile phone abuse worsened acne on one side of the face in seven out of ten patients prone to suffering from this type of problem and triggered it in three out of ten without previous acne,” explains the pharmacist specializing in dermopharmacy Gema Herrerías.
Light and heat
As for the causes that produce this reaction in the skin, the study blames, among other factors, “the visible light emitted by the devices.” Apparently, these flashes can increase the proliferation of one of the bacteria (staphylococcus aureus) that is behind the appearance of pimples and blackheads on the face. «Acne breakouts in the area of contact with the mobile phone are also due to the heat emitted by the phone, especially during the charging process, friction, repeated pressure on the cheek when talking, sweat, sebum, dust, a history of skin problems…”, lists the Sevillian pharmacist, co-author of the book ‘X-ray of a cosmetic’.
The accumulation of bacteria and dirt on the mobile phone is another reason why this type of outbreak occurs, “so it is recommended to periodically clean the devices with a soft, slightly damp cloth, always with the phone turned off.” .
Most frequent injuries
One of the main consequences of this mobile phone abuse is the appearance of grade 3 acne (on a scale of 0 to 5) in the most affected area of the face, especially in the case of patients with previous dermatological problems. “The study indicates that the most frequent lesions are papules (red pimples) and white pustules, although nodules that leave scars can also appear,” warns Gema Herrerías, one of the best-known disseminators in our country in the field of dermopharmacy.
Oily, acne-prone skin is the most vulnerable to suffering a reaction of this type, followed by sensitive skin with loss of its barrier function (they may experience greater irritation due to the friction and pressure of the phone) and people who do not maintain a correct facial hygiene and do not regularly clean your phone.
Dermatologist Ana Molina regrets that acne still “bitters” the lives of many adolescents and not so adolescents, “when it is a problem that has a solution and that most of us are going to have to face at some point in our lives, since it affects eight out of ten young people and 40% of adult women.
The specialist insists that one of the keys to successfully treating acne and avoiding the unsightly scars left by “years of self-removing pimples in front of the mirror” is to act as soon as possible and “avoid home remedies.” In the case of adolescents, very simple routines are usually prescribed, “which basically consist of a good cleaning (morning and night) combined with a specific product that contains antiseptics, antibiotics, hydroxy acids, retinoids… Nowadays there are solutions excellent for ending this problem, such as isotretinoin, a very effective, definitive and safe active ingredient that all dermatologists love because it is capable of ending severe acne, although it is also used at lower doses to treat more moderate breakouts or late acne,” explains Dr. Ana Molina.
Scars can also be treated, but it is important to be aware that treatments, with the laser on the head, can improve their appearance by 60% or 70%, but do not eliminate them completely. “That is why prevention is so important,” agree the experts consulted.
Tips to avoid this reaction on the face
Regularly clean the screen
and the edges of the phone with a clean, disinfecting cloth such as 70% isopropyl alcohol or bleach-free disinfectant wipes.
Avoid holding the phone against your skin for long periods.
“Use headphones or the speaker for long calls and do not use your cell phone when it is charging,” advises dermopharmacy expert Gema Herrerías.
Wash your face regularly
“Use care products appropriate for each skin type.”
Avoid touching the skin with dirty hands
or directly with the phone.
Consider using screen protectors or cases
that avoid direct contact of the device with your skin.