Does Toothpaste Cause Acne?

Posted on: August 5th, 2009 | Filed under acne product selection

Acne around the mouth can be especially bothersome and tempting to tamper with. Although this form of acne is typically attributed to hormones, it can also be caused by external factors, including the foods you eat as well as the type of toothpaste you use. A number of women experience acne breakouts around their mouth immediately before or during their menstrual cycle. However, when these breakouts become persistent without any hormonal fluctuations, this can be cause for concern. As mentioned before, toothpaste is often an immediate culprit in otherwise unexplained acne breakouts in the vicinity of the mouth. In this post, we will explore the chemical makeup of various toothpastes in order to offer some explanation into why it may trigger breakouts.

To many of you, it may seem odd to suspect toothpaste as a contributing factor to acne. Some people actually use toothpaste to combat the odd acne blemish. For some, it effectively dries out existing blemishes, allowing for quicker healing of acne lesions. For others, there is little noticeable effect. So does toothpaste get rid of pimples? The answer to this question is largely debatable. For one, the type of toothpaste you are using (ie. whether it is paste or gel-based) has some influence. Those who use toothpaste on their acne tend to recommend a paste-based formulation. Regardless of whether or not toothpaste is an effective acne spot treatment, you have to remember that toothpaste can also cause acne. One of the ingredients that is a primary concern is known as Sodium Lauryl sulfate.

We’ve discussed sodium lauryl suflate, or SLS a number of times in the past. This chemical is a surfactant used extensively in industrial and household cleaning products. It is a foaming agent that provides a lathering effect when combined with hard water. In addition to home cleaning products, it is also found in shampoos and toothpaste. You may have noticed your toothpaste foam when combined with water. This is sodium lauryl sulfate at work. Although we have fallen accustomed to and come to like this foaming effect, the chemical used to induce it is potentially dangerous. SLS is known to aggravate skin, and in the case of toothpaste, is known spur the development of canker sores, inflamed sores located within the mouth that are can be painful. A study conducted by the Australian Department of Health and Aging revealed that SLS triggered a number of adverse reactions in animals, including skin and eye irritation. Unfortunately, most popular brands of toothpaste contain SLS or its close variants. A good choice is natural toothpaste, such as Tom’s of Maine. You may find it a bit more expensive, however, it is a worthwhile investment if it means no more mouth acne.

Flouride is yet another chemical found in not only toothpaste, but our water supply. Flouride is the main ingredient in most toothpastes, designed to strengthen tooth enamel in the fight against cavities. As the case with SLS, fluoride can aggravate the skin. When most of us brush our teeth, we unintentionally spread toothpaste around our mouth. Not only is the fluoride given an ample opportunity to wreak havoc on our skin, but so are a number of other additives designed to whiten teeth or fight tartar. If you’ve recently switched toothpastes and have noticed an increase in the amount of acne lesions around your mouth, unique additives to the toothpaste may be to blame. Toothpastes have evolved tremendously, fighting not only cavities but a number of other oral conditions. Hence, attempt to find a more basic toothpaste that doesn’t have unnecessary bells and whistles.

If you are someone who suffers from persistent acne around the mouth, a non-flourinated toothpaste may be in order. Some are understandably hesitant about switching to such a toothpaste. However, there are some things to consider. For one, fluoride is present in our water supply. Your teeth will still come into contact with fluoride regardless of the type of toothpaste you use. The benefit of water is that it is far less messy than toothpaste, and thus, less prone to coming into contact with unwanted areas. The benefits of fluoride have also fallen under scrutiny in recent years. Some argue that although it strengthens tooth enamel, it does so at the cost of leaving patients vulnerable to other dental conditions such as fluorosis. Nevertheless, non-flourinated toothpaste is worth a shot if the acne around your mouth has been unresponsive to topical or oral treatments. Flouride can also cause an acne-like condition known as perioral dermatitis. Acne-like bumps near the corners of the mouth and chin are characteristic of this condition. Treatment of perioral dermatitis involves the administration of oral antibiotics. If the lesions remain unresponsive, the patient is often advised to switch to a non-flourinated toothpaste.

With all this in mind, does toothpaste cause acne? No. Yet, it can aggravate acne in some cases. Does that go to say you should include it in your acne treatment regimen if you experience no adverse reactions? Not so much. Although it may prove effective in drying out certain pimples, it will only prolong you suffering in the long-term. Your skin does not take a liking to products that dry and otherwise irritate it. Sustained use of toothpaste may worsen the severity of your acne. Your skin will eventually become unresponsive to its drying effects. The next time you spot a bothersome blemish in the mirror, it may be better to let it heal in its own instead of intervening with toothpaste.

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