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Will a Facial Steam Clear Acne?

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Updated June 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Facial Steam
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Question: Will a Facial Steam Clear Acne?
I love facial steams! I've heard that steam cleanses out the pores, so will a facial steam clear acne? Should I steam my face more often?
Answer:

You're not alone in your love of steaming the skin. The facial steam is a favorite feature of a salon facial, and personal facial steamers are extremely popular for at-home use. And many steam their face the old-fashioned way -- with a bowl of very warm water covered by a towel.

Too bad all this steam doesn't actually cleanse out the pores!

Pore blockages (called comedones) occur when oil and other debris become lodged in the pore. This thick, sticky substance is the basis of a blackhead, whitehead, or pimple. Even hours of steaming won't clear this plug from the pore or stop new ones from forming.

That's not to say facial steaming doesn't have a place in skin care. Facial steaming can help soften blackheads and blockages so an esthetician can more easily extract them. (Your skin care therapist should never try to extract an inflamed blemish, though. It will damage the skin.)

Steaming the skin can make your skin look brighter and give your complexion a rosy glow (temporarily, at least). And no one can argue that it just plain feels nice.

But just steaming the face, no matter how often you do it, isn't enough to clear up acne. You’d be much better off using a topical treatment or oral medication.

In fact, steaming too often or using steam that is too hot can actually make acne look worse, because it increases redness and inflammation.

If you love steaming your face, go ahead and enjoy it. But know steaming in itself is not a cure for acne.

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