Does Cocaine Cause Acne?

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.

11 Replies to “Does Cocaine Cause Acne?”

  1. A common misperception about “picking” from using cocaine is that users pick because they feel like bugs are crawling on them or something is irritating the skin, while in all reality – nothing is there. Based on my personal assumption of the situation prior to using drugs, I thought the same thing. After becoming an active user of cocaine amongst other drugs, my pre-use assumption proved wrong when I experienced picking for myself. After consuming cocaine, while under the influence, I become very well focused in, and very concentrated. I would sit in front of the mirror for hours, examining my face for even the slightest bit of acne or black heads and i would dig into my face to pop zits and black heads and it was making it worse than before. Cocaine throws off depth perception, time, senses, etc, and I would use extreme force and pressure squeezing at my face and picking my skin to open up pores and squeeze whatever out of it. (you’d be surprised how much crap is clogged up in your pores thats barely visable) While squeezing to get the barely noticeable grease and gunk out of my pores, It was causing me to bleed and the pressure causing more lacerations. However, because of the effects of the cocaine, it causes your mind to see past the damage you’re causing your face in creating new wounds, because you’re already focused in and so concentrated on popping zits. Afterwards, you’re left with a face full of scabs, new zits and black heads caused by the dirt and oils from your fingers while touching your face, and cuts from digging your nails into your face to pick off the skin over your pimple so its easier to squeeze the crap out of your pores. Nobody wins.

    1. I hear u on that, there is no better way to feel like an idiot than have you destroy your face cause your on drugs.

  2. I can also attest to the above entry. I never used drugs until roughly four years ago when my boyfriend turned me on to coke. I was 36, in great shape, pretty face, great skin. He however, would sit propped up on the sink with his face inches from the mirror popping blackheads and digging in his face, then move onto his stomach or arms and would use tweezers. This would gross me out. I’d really get bugged when id get out of the shower and he’d try to start in on my back our shoulders and saying things like “oh my god, let me get that blackhead; it’s huge!” Then he’d come at me with sharp nails and start picking and digging and leave a nasty red mark or yucky looking area and I wouldn’t be able to wear sleeveless shirts. Once he turned me into it I continued to use up until two months ago. I’m with the same guy and I can tell you that using is very connected to bad skin. eventualIy i would find myself digging in my face, making marks, getting little red bumps on my neck. … it sucks. Also recently I just had my nose fixed because I was blowing my nose so much and huge bloody scabs would come out. After visiting an Ears Nose Throat specialist, it turns out I had a huge hole in my septum and I was actually blowing out scabs that would form around the cartledge that was deteriorating and if I didn’t fix it I could get what’s called ‘saddle nose ‘. Once you google pics of it, it could scare anyone into quitting. That was two months ago I got it fixed. It was my wakeup call. I’m two months clean. Coke will also turn any mild social drinker into a closet alcoholic. I can drink vodka from the bottle and a lot of it and “still feel sober”though I’d be trashed. I’d lose momentum, be late to work. .. and if you didn’t know, booze is also bad for your skin and complexion. Look at those big red noses on recovered alcoholics. Quit if you can, you need to tell yourself you’re better than this shit.

  3. Just get a deep cleanse facial, and you’re fine. Obviously using dirty nails to remove spots is going to clog your pores and cause further breakouts. Drink lots and lot of water to re-hydrate and then eat berries (anti-oxidants) as well as semi spice foods to detox.

    1. I hope you’re an esthetician, otherwise, why would you write a comment like that? I do agree with your advice, but please know, you very much come across as a closet user. You are not helping people with addiction; only those who who want a nice complextion.

      1. No one is here to help with addiction issues – just acne issues! ( – remember?) Also – these are all basic and well known pieces of advice that don’t require an *aesthetician’s certificate. Nothing here indicates that she, herself, uses. You’re digging deep! You very much come across as bored in a closet.

  4. I’m a 22 year old female who still suffers from acne, unfortunately. It’s not cystic but my face is far from flawless. I was very scared that cocaine would aggravate my acne, but it absolutely didn’t.

  5. The advice you offer is all well and good ‘get a facial’ and ‘eat berries’ that’s ok if you’re an addict with plenty of cash, but from experience I don’t know any addicts who have money to spend on things like that! An addict will never think ‘right, what’s it to be a facial or score?’ Its a no brainer really!!

  6. I am as I type with my phone in one hand picking an infected scabs on my head with the other hand. I’m literally obsessed with pickin that it’s turned into one hell of a problem and half the time I’m totally unaware I’m doing it till a relative, friends and even my children shout at me for picking. It’s now become a real issue and basically taking over my personal n social life and seems like as soon as my outbreaks finely gone and I can start to live a normal life wearing makeup and swing people I have no more than a scab free week and then the outbreak reappears again and it’s now got to the point where I’m actually full on depressed crying and subconsciously picking again without realising. Without blowing my own trumpet this face of mine was a bonny one only 12 months ago despite my heroin addiction of 8 yrs I’ve still always managed to keep my looks, good image, morals, loyalties, tv and my own teeth and never really needed to wear makeup until I started taking hard drugs and now I won’t leave the house without it on because of all the scars my skin picking has caused and when I have an outbreak I have to be makeup free so I’m literally house bound and like a prisoner in my own home. I isolate myself from the world and stop seing people and won’t even see my children who currently live with my mum 20 mins drive from me because I don’t want to worry or share my children with how bad my favourite e can look at times like now it’s the worst it’s been yet and is now badly infected causing me pain and causing what I can only describe as feeling like fluid rushing to my head and face like pressure hence the reason I’m online now Googling the hell out of everything. I’ve lost any confidence I had left which wasn’t much after having most of it knocked out of me due to domestic violence wich is also part of the reasons as to why I use heroin amongst a whole lot more of horrible reasons wich is a whole new topic all together . I have learnt though that constantly skin picking unaware ur doing is actually a disorder wich falls under OCD, called skim pickin disorder, as simply as it sounds and does what it says on the tin. Caused by stress,worry, anxiousness, nervousness, depression and drug abuse. I personally tend to pick the most after I’ve taken crack and I mean literally a split second after I can feel this strange urge come over my body, my hands more or less twitching to rip the big scab off the left cheek on my face. I
    Honestly can’t take anymore and I’ve tried the gloves and that don’t work over even tried putting plasters all over my face to the pint where one day the only bit of skin showing on my face was my lips and nose. Skin picking has not only ruined my face and confidence but it’s ruining my life and causing massive upset and depression and also not just for me but my children and my parents because of the constant worry. I’ve Google drive alsorts of horrible nightmares and don’t no what to believe and ur probable thinkin see a doctor but I’ve just moved towns so right now not registered anywhere so unless its an emergency there’s not really anything I can do other than self medicate on old amoxicillin tablets, germalene antiseptic cream and pure tea tree oil.

  7. Ive isolated my break outs to use of blow. I mean I’ve done other things along with blow over a weekend and just thought it was either a combination of all or maybe some of the hydros I was taking but nope. I’ve isolated it by only using blow over a weekend several times and noticed really bad breakouts over my chest, back, neck and even arms sometimes. It sucks but I guess I should stop using as well

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *