Does fluvoxamine cause acne? (+3 factors)

In this article, we are going to discuss whether or not fluvoxamine causes acne, research studies exploring the potential link between fluvoxamine and acne, causes and factors contributing to acne development while taking fluvoxamine, and what to do if fluvoxamine causes acne.

Does fluvoxamine cause acne?

Yes, fluvoxamine can cause acne. Nonetheless, fluvoxamine-related acne and skin problems are usually mild and resolve independently. (1)

Fluvoxamine is an antidepressant medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). They function by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain and inhibiting its reuptake. (2)

According to research, the elevated serotonin levels brought on by fluvoxamine can cause acne because of changes in the skin’s oil production. However, the precise mode of action is not fully understood and it remains unclear why certain individuals experience acne while taking fluvoxamine, while others do not.

Acne is not a common side effect of fluvoxamine and is usually moderate and resolves on its own, but it can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. If you experience acne while taking fluvoxamine, contact your healthcare provider. They might recommend topical treatment or oral drugs to help clear up your skin.

What does research suggest?

Research on acne formation while taking fluvoxamine is scarce. Fluvoxamine, however, has been linked in certain studies to an increased risk of acne, while in other research, it has been reported to potentially relieve acne symptoms.

Fluvoxamine is one of the SSRIs that have been linked to a number of cutaneous reactions, including urticaria, angioedema, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and acneiform eruption (a group of skin disorders characterized by papules and pustules resembling acne vulgaris). (3)

It appears that there may be a complex and individual variation in the association between fluvoxamine and acne. One explanation is that the medication might increase estrogen levels in certain individuals, which can contribute to the development of acne. (4)

What factors can contribute to acne while taking fluvoxamine?

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of acne while taking fluvoxamine such as: (5)

Hormonal changes: Fluvoxamine may have an impact on estrogen and androgen levels, which may have a role in the development of acne while taking fluvoxamine.

Immune system: Fluvoxamine can inhibit certain inflammatory gene expression in macrophages and endothelial cells which can contribute to the development of acne while taking the medication. (4)

Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to acne. These genes may interact with fluvoxamine in ways that promote the development of acne.

Concurrent medications: Certain medications such as lithium, testosterone, or corticosteroid medication can exacerbate acne while taking fluvoxamine. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about any medication you are taking to avoid possible drug interactions and side effects.

Stress: One of the main contributing factors to acne is stress. Stress can exacerbate acne while taking fluvoxamine.

Nutrition: carb-rich food such as chips and bread can exacerbate acne while taking fluvoxamine.

What to do if fluvoxamine causes acne?

If fluvoxamine causes acne, consult your healthcare provider about reducing your medication dose or switching to an alternative with fewer skin-related adverse effects such as:

Duloxetine: Sold under the name Cymbalta, duloxetine is an effective SSRI antidepressant that can used instead of fluvoxamine and can rarely cause acne. (6)

According to a research study, other SSRIs such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine were proven to be well-tolerated and cause fewer side effects as compared to fluvoxamine. (7)

SNRIs: Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors such as desvenlafaxine, sold under the trade name Pristiq can be used as an alternative to fluvoxamine. Pristiq has fewer acne and skin-related side effects and is generally well-tolerated.

Topical acne treatments such as tretinoin (Retin-A) gels, creams, lotions, or Dapsone gel might be useful in treating mild to moderate acne. (8)

If your acne is severe, your healthcare provider might prescribe medications to treat acne such as tetracycline antibiotics like doxycycline or macrolide antibiotics like erythromycin or isotretinoin tablets. (8) 

Tips for managing acne while taking fluvoxamine

There are several useful tips and strategies for managing acne while taking fluvoxamine such as: (8)

  • Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser that is suitable for your skin and avoid certain facial scrubs and masks, as they can worsen your acne symptoms.
  • Topical Benzyl peroxide, adapalene, or products containing salicylic acid can be topically applied to your acne spots. These products can help dry excess oil and peel your skin.
  • Avoid products that irritate your skin such as greasy or oily makeup. Use products that are water-based or products that don’t produce blackheads (non-comedogenic products).
  • Use a sunscreen-containing moisturizer that is non-comedogenic on a regular basis to protect your skin from the sun. As the sun exposure may worsen acne in some individuals.
  • Affected acne regions should not be touched or picked. This might result in infection or scarring.
  • After a hard workout, take a shower. Perspiration and excess oil can lead to breakouts.


Based on my knowledge and experience, fluvoxamine can cause acne in some individuals. In my opinion, acne is not a common side effect of fluvoxamine and resolves after your body adjusts to the medication.

However, if you experience persistent acne while taking fluvoxamine, consult your healthcare provider about reducing your medication dose or switching to an alternative with fewer adverse effects.









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Krasowska D, Szymanek M, Schwartz RA, Myśliński W. Cutaneous effects of the most commonly used antidepressant medication, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology [Internet]. 2007 May 1 [cited 2022 Jan 5];56(5):848–53. Available from:


Domingues RR, Wiltbank MC, Hernandez LL. The antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac®) modulates estrogen signaling in the uterus and alters estrous cycles in mice. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 2023 Jan;559:111783. Available from:,et%20al.%2C%202017).


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Mackay FJ, Dunn NR, Wilton LV, Pearce GL, Freemantle SN, Mann RD. A comparison of fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine examined by observational cohort studies. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 1997 Jul;6(4):235–46. Available from:


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