Does Paxil help with acne? (7 tips)

In this article, we will explore whether Paxil helps with acne. We will also discuss research findings, the connection between mental health and skin conditions, factors contributing to acne, and pharmacological and non-pharmacological ways of treating acne while taking Paxil. 

Does Paxil help with acne?

Paxil does not directly help with acne. Stress, anxiety, and depression are psychological illnesses that may exacerbate acne in susceptible individuals. Paxil is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) approved by the FDA to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic disorder, and other related mental conditions. 

When prescribed to treat anxiety and depression, Paxil may indirectly help reduce the symptoms of acne. Some people, when stressed, start picking and peeling the skin of their face, neck, and arms, areas easily reachable, which may also trigger acne.

When stress levels decrease, the condition of patients who experience acne may improve. Paxil, also known as Paroxetine, works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in brain cells. Serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter, regulates sleep, mood, appetite, and the body’s stress response (1). 

What does research suggest?

According to research studies, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, might have additional antimicrobial properties by influencing the bacterial walls and certain internal processes of bacteria.   

SSRIs may improve conditions such as atopic dermatitis which may have psychological effects on patients. Such patients may demonstrate mood swings along with anxiety and depression due to societal pressure. However, more research is needed to fully understand the antimicrobial properties of SSRIs (2). 

What is the connection between mental health and skin problems?

The connection between mental health and skin problems has been studied in many research studies. It is often observed that patients with psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression also have skin disorders such as rashes, acne, or dermatitis. 

Due to reluctance to see a psychiatrist, most dermatologists prescribe antipsychotics to patients who experience skin problems along with mental disorders. Psychological disorders may trigger or worsen the existing skin conditions. 

The use of antidepressants such as Paxil and other SSRIs may be helpful for patients to treat skin conditions which are related to psychological disorders (3,4). 

What factors may contribute to acne while taking Paxil?

There are a few factors that may contribute to cause acne while taking Paxil such as: 

  • Genetic factors make you more prone to experiencing acne. 
  • Increased stress levels may lead to hormonal changes and skin problems. 
  • Use of other drugs with skin-related side effects. 
  • Inadequate skincare routines or excessive facial massages may increase sebum production. 
  • The habit of peeling skin or picking the pimples. 
  • Consumption of oily foods, dairy products, or foods high in sugar. 
  • Hormonal changes. 
  • Increased exposure to the sun (5). 

What are the pharmacological ways of treating acne?

The pharmacological ways of treating acne may include using Benzoyl peroxide, topical Retinoids, Azelaic acid, or their combinations for mild acne. If you experience severe acne, please reach out to your healthcare provider.

They may prescribe you antibiotics such as Minocycline or Doxycycline, or hormonal therapies such as oral contraceptives, Spironolactone or Isotretinoin depending on the severity of your skin condition.

Antibiotics may start working within a few hours or a few days and should be taken for 7-14 days because this period is enough to treat bacterial infections. If you observe any side effects while using these medications along with Paxil, please immediately reach out to your healthcare provider (6).

What are the non-pharmacological ways of treating acne?

The non-pharmacological approaches to treat acne while taking Paxil may include: 

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out the toxins from your body that may contribute to acne. 
  • Protect your skin by using sunscreens while going out in the sun. 
  • Avoid oily and sugary foods. 
  • Change your towels, pillowcases and beddings regularly to prevent acne. 
  • Avoid using oil-based cosmetics. 
  • Reduce your stress levels by engaging in physical activities such as walking, yoga, or aerobics. 
  • Avoid touching your face unnecessarily (5). 


In my opinion, Paxil does not directly help treat acne. However, its impact on mental health may indirectly influence skin conditions. Stress and anxiety may trigger acne in susceptible individuals.

SSRIs such as Paxil may reduce the symptoms of mental illness and associated dermatological issues. However, you may use pharmacological and non-pharmacological ways to treat or manage your acne. If your acne worsens or persists, please reach out to your healthcare provider. 

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