Question from a reader: Does cocaine cause acne?
Cocaine seems to make acne worse for anyone prone to the condition, although there is no research to back this anecdotal conclusion.
Cocaine use goes hand in hand with staying up all night and a disrupted sleep cycle; sleep deprivation aggravates acne. Additionally, cocaine stimulates the central nervous system. This causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, a steroid hormone created in response to stress. There are several studies that directly link stress, cortisol, and acne.
An often-cited side effect of cocaine is ‘picking’, the act of neurotically digging at one’s own skin. Although this picking unlikely to directly cause acne, it will aggravate existing acne and can lead to permanent scarring.
However, there are zero published studies about cocaine and acne. In fact, any form of scientific link between stimulants and skin health is hard to track down. This study of 83,000 women actually found that intake of another stimulant, caffeine, was negatively correlated with acne rosacea. The impact of methamphetamine on skin is well documented, however.
Please use the space below to tell us about your experiences with cocaine and acne. We’ll keep it completely anonymous.