Can Using a Sauna Cause Acne? What You Should Know

Medically reviewed by Dr. Justin Ternes
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The high heat of a sauna will quickly cause you to release sweat out of every pore. Your body initiates this response to help keep your core temperature stable. It also brings more blood to the top layer of your skin, improving circulation, which could temporarily “add color” to your skin tone. Improved blood can help your body heal more efficiently. With improved blood flow to the skin coupled with the heat opening effect on pores, you might wonder if sauna use could promote good skin health or maybe the opposite like acne?

Using a sauna will very likely not cause acne. The heat of the sauna can open up pores and produce sweat. The compounds in your sweat can exfoliate your skin, however, if you don’t wash away your sweat promptly after your session, it can result in more acne breakouts. 

Saunas let your pores breathe, which is beneficial to your skin. In fact, clogged pores can lead to pimples, whiteheads, or blackheads. Sweating cleanses your skin and can even clear up your skin’s complexion. However, a proper routine should be followed if you are using saunas and trying to reduce your acne. Continue reading this article to learn just how to optimize sauna use to improve your skin health and complexion while preventing acne breakouts. 

Sauna Effects on the Pores in Your Face

Young Woman Looking at a Small Mirror in a Sauna

Pores on the skin of your face are affected by both heat and humidity. It can open up your pores, allowing sweat and clogs to flow out. However, if the heat is too sudden and too hot, it can cause pores to swell. Swelling can block your pores from releasing sweat and further clog them. Alas, as long as you stay in the sauna enough time, your pores will eventually open when you start to sweat. 

If you have inflamed acne, a sauna may not be the best choice for you. The sauna’s heat may inflame the acne more and cause your pores to swell up and squeeze tightly around your follicles. With that being said, if you are visiting a sauna with acne, keep a close eye on redness, pus, swelling, soreness, and new acne. If things worsen, you are not responding well to the sauna and should reconsider your visit. 

Can Saunas Cause Acne?

Saunas cause you to sweat; depending on the person, it could be a ton of sweat. Sweat, too much oil on your skin, and unbalanced skin ph can be the proper ingredients for acne creation. However, saunas themselves do not cause acne. Of course, their heat does increase your sweat, but that in and of itself does not cause breakouts.

Breakouts can be caused by clogged pores, bacteria, germs, and uncleaned sweat.  To prevent clogged pores and reduce bacteria and germs from causing acne, pimples, and whiteheads, you should cleanse your body with a shower after each sauna session. Clean your face with a mild soap or acne cleanser to remove sweat, debris, and germs.

Your sweat also contains salt, which will dry out your skin if you don’t clean it off. Therefore, it is crucial to moisturize your skin with a cream like this from Amazon after your post-sauna shower. To prevent clogged pores, do not wear any makeup, cosmetics, or lotions before you enter the sauna. Anything on your skin can clog your pores which can eventually lead to an acne outbreak. 

How Saunas Can Help with Acne

Young Woman Touching Her Face in a Sauna

Saunas can help your acne if used right. When you sweat in the sauna, it flushes out excess oil from your skin. Sweat not only flushes out excess oils but also flushes out bacteria, germs, sebum (a waxy, oily substance produced in your pores) which could help keep your skin clean and clear. Sweating also helps balance the pH levels on your skin.

If the pH is out of whack, it can provide a suitable environment for germs and bacteria to cultivate. While sweat flushes out your pores of all sorts of substances, it can make your acne worse if you leave it on your skin too long. If you leave sweat to dry on your skin after a sauna visit, it can trap contaminants which can result in new pimples and more acne. 

However, if you shower after the sauna, whether with an IR blanket from Amazon or a traditional sauna, you can easily prevent sweat’s ill effects on your acne. Always use a mild soap or acne cleanser for the best results. To help your acne further, you should shower and clean your face before the sauna too.

This cleansing will remove harmful bacteria, germs, etc. before you even get in the sauna. Besides helping acne, cleaning your body before the sauna is good hygiene, as you don’t want other people’s germs spreading to you.

Remember to clean yourself or shower after the sauna too! Showering before the sauna does not give you a “free pass” on cleaning after a sauna visit. Prevent outbreaks by showering both before and after, and make sure to check out our other article on proper sauna use.


When you use saunas properly and follow good hygiene practices like what’s outlined in our guide, they will not cause acne. In fact, saunas can help your acne and clear up your skin. However, saunas are not a “100% acne cure,” but they have been shown to help. Proper hygiene practices involve showering before and after the sauna and cleaning your face with an acne cleansing solution or mild soap. 

You will also want to hydrate your skin, with a face lotion, after the sauna (and only after). Always remove makeups, cosmetics, and creams before a sauna session to prevent pores from clogging; you want them to drain! Saunas can help with acne by opening up your pores and producing sweat. The sweat cleanses your skin by flushing out your pores.

Bacteria, germs, sebum, and excess oils don’t stand a chance against the sweat flow that the sauna’s heat brings about. As always, clean your sweat after the sauna to prevent it from causing acne. If you’re new to the sauna and concerned about your acne, keep a close eye on it. Some people could have extra swelling, especially if they are not used to heat. 

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