Is Stomach Sleeping Causing Your Skin to Break Out?

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In surprising news, your sleep position may contribute to facial acne. Why? Because your pillowcase isn’t as clean as you think… and that might affect your skin.

Pillowcases are breeding grounds for bacteria because dirt, oil, and dust collect on them. Traces of any skin products you applied that day, mixed with residue from your hair and scalp, plus household dust? It’s pretty gross when you think about it.

Experts say that this gunk can find its way into your pores and cause some unwanted clogging. And sleeping face down or with your cheek on the pillow may also contribute to acne mechanica, a type of acne caused by pressure and rubbing.


“Acne mechanica is any type of acne that is the result of material or objects touching your face,” Dr. David E. Bank, director and founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, told First Derm. “When a pillowcase isn’t laundered or changed regularly, a build-up of dirt and oil from the environment as well as the skin and hair touching the pillow is transferred back to your skin. This can clog pores and cause blemishes.”

Obviously, there are ways to prevent pillowcase-related breakouts. Dr. Julie Russak, M.D told TODAY that people should change their pillowcase at least once a week, or even more often if they’re prone to acne. She also recommends investing in a satin pillowcase, which will absorb less moisture (thus breeding less bacteria) and will reduce chafing on the skin.

Related: Best Mattress For Stomach Sleepers

There are also specialty pillowcases designed to combat bacteria and acne. The Skin Laundry SleepCycle Pillowcase (from $30) uses silver ion technology; Skin Laundry says this has a natural anti-microbial effect that reduces bacteria by 99.9 percent. They recommend washing the cotton pillowcase every 7 to 10 days, noting that the technology is good for up to 50 washes.

The Hygenie Acne Fighting Silver Ionic Pillowcase ($29.99) works similarly: each pillowcase is embedded with positively charged silver ions that apparently “kill 99.9 percent of germs and odor-causing bacteria on contact.”

The main takeaway: Wash your face before bed, and change your pillowcase regularly. And if you’re worried about acne, go see a dermatologist before jumping to the conclusion that your bedding is the problem.


Featured image: lenetstan/Shutterstock

Joe Auer

Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site. He likes things simple and takes a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications. When he isn't testing sleep products, he enjoys working out, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and playing classical piano. He enjoys traveling as well, and not just to test out hotel mattresses! Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.