Does Fluoxetine cause acne? (7 factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Fluoxetine causes acne. We will also talk about the research findings, contributing factors, tips to manage acne while taking Fluoxetine, and side effects of Fluoxetine. 

Does Fluoxetine cause acne?

Fluoxetine does not cause acne in patients who take it to treat depression. Fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, can be used to treat certain skin-related conditions associated with depression. However, some patients may develop acne or rashes if they are allergic to Fluoxetine. 

Fluoxetine is a prescription drug and should only be taken if prescribed by your healthcare provider. Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant, that works by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, mood, appetite, and stress response. Fluoxetine is approved by the FDA to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), eating disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, bipolar depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and treatment-resistant disorder when combined with Olanzapine.

Fluoxetine may also be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD). Fluoxetine may take around 2 to 4 weeks to show its antidepressant effects (1). 

Acne, a skin condition characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples, can result from various causes, including hormonal imbalances, excessive sebum (oil on your skin) production, and inflammation when sebum becomes trapped in the skin. Smoking and stress can also trigger acne and make it worse. (2,3)

What does research suggest? 

According to a case study, an adult woman reached out to the doctor, her skin had multiple scratches and mostly face, arms, and forearms skin was damaged. She was diagnosed with a rare skin condition caused by psychological factors.

She was treated with Fluoxetine and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It was found that after 3 months of treatment with Fluoxetine, she recovered completely from her skin condition (4).

Another case study involving a woman with schizophrenia and depression revealed that while she tolerated daily Fluoxetine well for years, she experienced rashes and acne when her doctor tried to switch her to a once-a-week dose of Fluoxetine.

Once-a-week dose of Fluoxetine can be beneficial for patients who are stable on Fluoxetine for longer periods, although, doctors must be cautious about possible side effects, including allergies (5). 

Additionally, a research study indicated that a young girl with a skin-picking habit,  which might be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and with a family history of mental health conditions, showed improvement with prolonged Fluoxetine treatment (6). 

What other factors can contribute to acne while taking Fluoxetine?

There are a few factors that may contribute to cause acne while taking Fluoxetine: 

  • Diets high in sugar and excessive intake of dairy products. 
  • Anxiety and stress can lead to increased stress hormone levels in your body. 
  • Inadequate skincare routines and excessive scrubbing with harsh soaps. 
  • Genetic factors can influence the type of oils your skin produces. 
  • Simultaneous usage of medications like anticonvulsants and steroids. 
  • Excessive oil production may also be caused by the use of oil-based cosmetics and facial massages. 
  • Changes in hormone levels, as observed in conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, puberty, or during pregnancy (3). 

What to do if you are experiencing acne while taking Fluoxetine?

If you are experiencing acne while taking Fluoxetine, you may try some treatments after consulting your doctor. For patients having mild acne, you can use topical treatments such as Retinoids, Benzoyl Peroxide, and Salicylic Acid.  

Patients with moderate acne can also use antibiotics, but only if prescribed by their doctor in addition to these topical treatments. Isotretinoin may be prescribed for patients who have severe acne (7,8,9). Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor to determine the best treatment suitable for you. 

What are the non-pharmacological ways of managing acne?

The non-pharmacological ways of managing acne may include:

  • Avoid touching your face or peeling the skin unnecessarily.
  • Try to stay relaxed by exercising, walking or doing yoga. 
  • Reduce the consumption of dairy products or oily foods, as they may trigger acne. 
  • Always use sunscreen before going out in the sun. 
  • Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins from your body. 
  • Follow a proper skin-care routine, such as using mild cleansers to control oil production on the skin and avoiding harsh soaps on your face. 
  • Change your pillowcases and bedding regularly to prevent acne. 
  •  Do not use oil-based cosmetics. 


In my perspective, Fluoxetine, commonly known as Prozac, is used to treat depression and related conditions. Fluoxetine is not known to directly cause acne in individuals using it for depression treatment.

However, some patients may experience acne or rashes as a result of an allergic reaction to Fluoxetine. Therefore, if you experience any side effects while taking Fluoxetine or any other medicine, you should immediately inform your doctor. 

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