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Can traveling cause breakouts?

The holidays are almost here, and that probably means you'll be doing some traveling. Of course working in teledermatology got us thinking, are you more prone to a breakout when traveling?

The answer: YES. But, knowing what makes you prone to breaking out when traveling can help you avoid the problem. Let's take a look at the biggest factors in your travel-induced acne.

Causes of Travel Breakouts


Probably not what you would guess, right? Studies show that extended exposure to air conditioning and indoor heating leaves your skin dehydrated and creates an overproduction of oil. It's no surprise that the air in airplanes is notoriously dry. To combat dry skin, drink plenty of water throughout the day and moisturize (before/during/after traveling) with an ointment or cream (instead of lotion).


We image this won't come as a shock to most readers. Traveling at its core is stressful. There's making it to the airport on time, coping with traffic, and thinking of all the family you need to see over the holidays – don't get us wrong, we love Aunt Marge too, but she insists on talking politics. The list of stress-inducing situations can be endless during the holidays, and unfortunately, stress can worsen acne. Scientists don't know exactly how stress worsens acne, but research has shown a correlation. So in other words, take a few breaths, and just enjoy the flight/drive/holiday season (if you're lucky, your airport will have a meditation and/or yoga room).

What to Try if You Start to Breakout Away from Home

  • Gently wash affected areas once or twice a day with mild, non-drying cleanser. Vigorous washing and scrubbing can irritate your skin and make acne worse.
  • Avoid astringents, which may unnecessarily dry the skin.
  • To prevent scars, do not pop, squeeze or pick at acne.

Need to See a Dermatologist While Traveling?

If you are traveling and need to see a dermatologist, DermatologistOnCall is here to help. Simply create an account, upload photos of your condition and answer a few questions. Our board-certified dermatologists will provide you with a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan within 24 hours on average. If any medications are necessary, you can even choose a pharmacy nearby and they'll electronically route the prescription(s).