If you think your acne is worse on one side of your face, you’re probably right.

This can definitely happen, and it has more than one cause.

“Acne can appear to be worse on one side of the face when it is due to occlusion from a cell phone or resting your hand on that side of the face, as well as the dirt and grease that are harbored on those things,” says Estee Williams, MD, a board certified medical, cosmetic and surgical dermatologist and assistant clinical professor in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

This begs the question: What other germy object tends to cover the same side of your face on a regular basis, causing more acne?

  • Do you usually sleep on only one side?
  • If so, how clean is the pillow that contacts the one side of your face?

Contaminants in the pillow case or bare pillow if you use that can clog pores and make acne on that side worse.

You need to do more than keep the pillow case clean. And if the pillow doesn’t have a case, then get one.

What else you must do is wash your face before bedtime so that dirt and grime on your skin don’t transfer to the pillow and then create a cycle of dirtiness to your pores.

Another cause of acne being more noticeably prevalent on one side of your face is the frequency with which your fingers and fingertips make contact with your cheeks, jaw area, temple, chin and nose throughout the day.


For example while you’re engaged in computer work or absorbed by a TV show, perhaps your hand has a tendency to drift towards your cheek or forehead and make contact.

Bacteria-laden fingers will increase oil production.

Where does all that bacteria on your fingers and fingertips come from? Keyboards are a very germy source.

If you’re a nail biter, that makes things even worse.

Strive to break the habit of continuously touching your face – a habit that tends to be one-sided for most people.

Also keep in mind that if the degree that acne is “worse” on one side of your face is only minor, this could be explained by mere chance asymmetry with no specific cause.

Lopsided facial acne isn’t uncommon. Next time you see someone with acne, note the unevenness of it.

Dr. Williams strives to be at the forefront of her field, being active in local, national and international medical and cosmetic dermatology conferences. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.


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