Does Paxil Cause Acne? (+3 Ways to Manage Your Acne)

In this article, we will discuss whether Paxil causes acne. We will also discuss the possible mechanisms through which it may cause acne, what are the other reasons for acne, and how can you manage your acne while taking Paxil. 

Does Paxil Cause Acne? 

Paxil may cause acne in some individuals. Acne is not a major side effect documented for this medication. However, individuals taking Paxil may experience skin breakouts, as everyone reacts differently to medications. 

Paxil or paroxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and it is a commonly prescribed antidepressant. It is used to treat disorders like depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. Although Paxil is not widely associated with acne as a side effect, antidepressants can cause acne in some individuals. 

If you experience any severe skin reaction after taking Paxil, which may include rashes, itching, or irritation you must seek the help of a healthcare professional. If you experience acne while taking Paxil, it is likely to settle down after your body adjusts to the medication. 

How Does Paxil May Cause Acne? 

There has been limited research on the possible mechanisms through which Paxil may cause acne. Some ways through which Paxil can cause acne are as follows: 

Hormonal Changes: 

Paxil causes hormonal changes in the body which are associated with acne formation. Studies have reported that antidepressants are associated with testosterone and estrogen level changes in the body (1). Paxil has been associated with changes in the levels of estrogen in the body (2). These hormonal changes can cause individuals to experience acne. 

Increased Sweating: 

Sweating is a common side effect reported in antidepressants like Paxil and sertraline. Excessive sweating when combined with dead skin cells from your skin can clog pores. This provides a favorable environment for bacteria and increases the chance of acne formation. 

Effects on the Serotonin system: 

A study on acne induced by an antidepressant discussed that acne could be connected to increased activity of the serotonergic system. Based on this study, it can be assumed that paroxetine affects the serotonergic system at the skin’s dermal-epidermal interface which can result in acne in some individuals (3). 

What does research suggest? 

Evidence from the literature about the occurrence of acne with Paxil is limited. Paxil is an antidepressant and this class of medication is widely associated with drug-induced acne (4). However, one study revealed that patients with depression treated with Paxil showed significant improvement in acne and as a result an increase in their confidence and self-esteem (5). 

Different studies have investigated the impact of SSRIs on the treatment of skin diseases. These findings have reported that Paxil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Paxil also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it an effective candidate against skin diseases (6). 

The research supporting the benefits of Paxil for the skin is limited. Additionally, individual responses vary and it is possible to experience acne while taking this medication. 

What are some side effects of Paxil on the skin? 

Although rare, some unwanted reactions may manifest on the skin while taking Paxil. Some reported side effects of Paxil include (7)

  • urticaria (hives)
  • ecchymosis (bruising)
  • vasculitis 
  • pruritis 
  • urticarial vasculitis  

What do you do if you experience acne while taking Paxil? 

If you experience acne while taking Paxil, you must communicate it with your healthcare provider. Your doctor might make some dose adjustments, or prescribe you topical medications to control your acne. 

If the acne is severe, or you experience any other unusual side effects, your doctor might consider changing your medication. After this, your acne will clear up on its own. 

What are some other factors associated with acne while taking Paxil?

Different factors influence the development of acne, which can cause a breakout while you are taking Paxil. These factors are as follows (8) 

Genetics: You are likely to get acne if you have a family history. Your genes influence the activity of glands producing sebum in your skin and also control your hormones, which play a significant role in acne formation. 

Hormones: Androgens play a role in sebum production. Changes in the level of androgens and estrogen ratio can cause acne development. 

Bacteria: Increased growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin results in acne formation. This bacteria alters the oil composition on the skin, causes inflammation, and breaks down skin tissues which results in acne formation. 

Diet: Excessive consumption of dairy products and high glycemic foods increases the production of insulin and insulin-like growth factors. These hormones increase the production of androgens which leads to more sebum production and increased growth of skin cells. These factors contribute to acne development. 

How to manage your acne?

Different strategies can be used to manage acne. They include: developing a skincare routine, modifying your lifestyle, and managing your stress. These strategies can help you improve your skin’s health. 

Develop a Skin Care Routine: A skincare routine is important to manage your acne. Use the topical products as prescribed by your doctor to clean and moisturize your skin. Products containing benzoyl peroxide help reduce acne lesion count and it has anti-inflammatory properties (9). 

Lifestyle Modifications: Healthy lifestyle modifications are important to manage your acne. You must consume a healthy and balanced diet and minimize high glycemic food and dairy to control acne flare-ups. Regular exercise and adequate hydration are also important to keep your skin fresh and healthy. 

Stress Management: High levels of stress and inadequate sleep are some of the acne triggers. Therefore you must practice relaxation techniques to manage your stress and aim for adequate sleep to promote overall skin health. 


In my perspective, Paxil can cause acne in some individuals although it is not a common side effect. Every individual may react differently to the medication and may or may not experience acne. The mechanisms through which Paxil causes acne may include hormonal changes, increased sweating, and effects on the serotonin system. Different other factors contribute to the development of acne and different lifestyle modifications can be used to manage acne breakouts. 

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Pavlidi P, Kokras N, Dalla C. Antidepressants’ effects on testosterone and estrogens: What do we know? Eur J Pharmacol. 2021 May 15;899:173998. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2021.173998. Epub 2021 Mar 4. PMID: 33676942.


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Sinha S, Udupa S, Bhandary RP, Praharaj SK, Munoli RN. Sertraline-induced acneiform eruption. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2014 Apr 1;26(2):E56-7. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.13050113. PMID: 24763797.


Nair PA, Salazar FJ. Acneiform Eruptions. [Updated 2023 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Moussavian H. Improvement of acne in depressed patients treated with paroxetine. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001 May;40(5):505-6. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200105000-00007. PMID: 11349692.


Kiecka A, Szczepanik M. The potential action of SSRIs in the treatment of skin diseases including atopic dermatitis and slow-healing wounds. Pharmacol Rep. 2022 Oct;74(5):947-955. doi: 10.1007/s43440-022-00423-7. Epub 2022 Oct 7. PMID: 36203121; PMCID: PMC9584846.


Welsh JP, Cusack CA, Ko C. Urticarial vasculitis secondary to paroxetine. J Drugs Dermatol. 2006 Nov-Dec;5(10):1012-4. PMID: 17373154.


Bagatin E, Freitas THP, Rivitti-Machado MC, Machado MCR, Ribeiro BM, Nunes S, Rocha MADD. Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice. An Bras Dermatol. 2019 Jan-Feb;94(1):62-75. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20198203. Erratum in: An Bras Dermatol. 2019 Mar-Apr;94(2):255. Machado MCR [corrected to Rivitti-Machado MC]. PMID: 30726466; PMCID: PMC6360964.


Oge’ LK, Broussard A, Marshall MD. Acne Vulgaris: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Oct 15;100(8):475-484. PMID: 31613567.

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