Is your phone making you break out?

Texting may be less personal, but it could save you from a 21st-century skin-care problem: breakouts caused by phone-to-face contact.
cell phone acne
"Most of the stuff on a cell phone won't cause break outs," says Dr. Doris Day. But your pressing your phone to your face very likely will.

Texting may be less personal, but it could save you from a 21st-century skin-care problem: cell-phone breakouts.

While lots of people are concerned about bacteria on their phone (especially after Sanjay Gupta discovered fecal strep on Anderson Cooper’s last fall), jawline acne may have more to do with phone-face contact than grime, say dermatologists.

“Some people hold cell phones to their faces and talk for a long period of time, perspiring onto the phone and blocking the pores,” explains Mitchell Kline, MD, a dermatologist and professor at New York-Presbyterian Medical Center’s Weill Cornell Medical College.

Holding your phone against your cheek traps oil in the pores, which can lead to those deep-forming acne cysts, agrees Neil Sadick, MD, a renowned dermatologist and researcher. (Ever notice it also melts your makeup to your phone and down your face?)

But don’t flush your iPhone just yet.

“Your skin has its own immune system, and it can handle a lot. Most of the stuff on a cell phone won’t cause break outs,” confirms Doris Day, MD, an Upper East Side dermatologist.

Dr. Day cautions that if you’re prone to eczema or have a nickel allergy (some phones, but not iPhones, contain nickel), you may have more of a problem. (That problem is called contact dermatitis, which looks like tiny little clusters of pimples, but isn’t acne.)

She also says to watch out for the office phone. Since it ends up pressed against the faces of all of your coworkers, too, it may be dirtier. (Ew.)

cell phone sanitizer
Violight's cell-phone sanitizer keeps phones sparkly clean with "germicidal UV rays"

How can you avoid cell-phone breakouts? Try these simple strategies:

1. Get your phone off your face. Use a headset that doesn’t touch your face, put your sister on speakerphone, and, hey, text when you can. The less often a phone touches your face, the better.

2. Wash your face. “After a 15 minute phone call, you should wash your face with a gentle cleanser,” says Dr. Sadick. Keep some cleansing wipes at the office for a quick clean-up.

3. Clean your phone. Okay, bacteria may not be causing the zits that plague you, but never ever cleaning your phone is still gross. Too bad it’s actually hard to wash them: a microfiber cloth is all that’s recommended for cleaning most cell-phone screens (although Blackberry keyboards can take a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip). So if you’re seriously germophobic, order yourself this UV cell-phone sanitizer—Lisa Elaine Held and Elizabeth LaRosa

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