There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around masturbation, including how the act affects your skin. Some people believe that masturbating can lead to pimple outbreaks, but that’s far from true.

Masturbation doesn’t cause acne — at all. Its effect on hormone levels is only tangentially-related to acne development.

Keep reading to learn where this myth started, what’s really behind your acne, and how to treat it.

Puberty is usually the onset of both acne and first experiences with masturbation.

During puberty, your body produces more testosterone and other androgens. The increase in hormones also means your body’s making more sebum, an oily substance secreted from the sebaceous glands. Sebum protects your skin, but if there’s too much of it, your pores can clog and acne may develop.

Masturbation, on the other hand, doesn’t affect how much sebum your body produces. Even though there’s no relationship, the two are said to have been linked as a way to prevent young people from having premarital sex.

Keep in mind: Your face can still break out in pimples, regardless of how old you are, whether or how often you masturbate, or if you have sex.

Yes — but not enough to have an impact on your skin health. Studies have found that having an orgasm can lead to a very small increase in testosterone in both and .

But according to the research, the change in testosterone levels from climaxing is insignificant, and it returns to normal within minutes. The temporary influx of hormones caused by masturbation is so negligible that it can’t be used as a medical “reason” for acne breakouts.

It all comes down to clogged pores. Sometimes your body fails to shed dead skin cells, so they become trapped in your pores. This can lead to whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts.

Acne can also happen because of bacteria that live on our skin. If bacteria get into your pores, they may become red and swollen. In severe cases, this can lead to cysts.

So where do the bacteria come from? Everything and anything, really. It could come from holding your cellphone near your face, a dirty pillowcase, putting your head down on your desk or against the bus window, and not washing off makeup — just to name a few.

And your face isn’t the only place you can breakout. Acne can appear on your neck, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and even your butt.

Out of all skin conditions, acne is the most common. About in the United States deal with acne on any given day.

There are many ways you can fight acne, but how long it will take the acne to disappear will depend on if it’s mild or severe.

You can use an over-the-counter (OTC) exfoliating scrub to get rid of blackheads, or prescription spot treatments containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to clear the skin.

You could also start a daily acne-fighting skin care routine that’s effective at removing excess oil, clearing your pores, and healing blemishes.

Evaluate your current skin care routine

A good and consistent beauty regimen will help you fight zits and keep your skin clear, fresh, and bright.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips:

Wash your face twice a day. Wash your skin once in the morning and once at night to keep your skin clear of any pore-clogging buildup. But make sure to cleanse your face thoroughly so you get rid of all the dirt and oils you pick up during the day.

Cleanse your face after every workout. Sweating can cause your chest, upper back, and shoulders to breakout in a reddish-pink rash. This is caused by an overgrowth of yeast, which can inflame your pores. Washing your face and body after every workout will help remove the yeast.

Exfoliate two to three times a week. Exfoliate a few times a week to get rid of the pesky buildup that gets deep into your pores and causes breakouts. Exfoliation can irritate the skin, though, so look for a gentle scrub that has glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that removes dead skin while soothing your skin.

Invest in a toner. Toner can shrink pores, restore your skin’s pH balance, moisturize your skin, close and tighten pores, and prevent ingrown hairs. You should use an alcohol-free toner right after cleansing your face, morning and night.

Look out for ingredients that make you breakout. Some moisturizers, sunscreens, and face cleansers contain ingredients that can worsen your acne. Keep your eye out for:

  • fragrance
  • retinol
  • alcohol
  • silicone
  • talc
  • parabens

Here are a few blemish-fighting skin care products you can add to your routine:

Try OTC treatments

OTC treatments like masks and serums can help eliminate stubborn acne by:

  • killing inflammation-causing bacteria
  • removing excess oil
  • speeding up new skin cell growth
  • getting rid of dead skin cells

You should look for treatments that include the following active ingredients:

  • benzoyl peroxide
  • salicylic acid
  • alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid
  • sulfur

Here are three OTC treatments to check out:

  • If you’re dealing with scars, cystic spots, or blackheads, try .
  • If you want to reduce blemishes and shrink pores, try .
  • If you’re fighting hormonal breakouts or acne scars, try .

Make a few lifestyle changes

You can also make a few changes to reduce or eliminate acne breakouts.

Here are a few tips:

  • Wash your pillowcase once a week with sensitive skin-friendly detergent.
  • Wash your bedding at least once a month with sensitive skin-friendly detergent.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate to help flush toxins.
  • Opt for noncomedogenic makeup.
  • Use hair products that aren’t oil-based.
  • Wear oil-free, noncomedogenic SPF 30 sunscreen.
  • Get more sleep.

OTC acne treatments don’t work overnight. You may have to wait up to six weeks before you notice clear changes in your skin. If you don’t see any improvements after eight weeks, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist.

But if you have severe acne, cysts, or nodules, you should see your dermatologist right away. They can prescribe you stronger acne treatments, drain and extract large acne cysts, and perform other acne-fighting procedures.

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