Whether it’s blurry vision, poor sleep or increased anxiety, doctors have linked plenty of our ills to excessive phone use. And now there’s our skin. There’s now mounting evidence to show that our phones are partially responsible for the things we hate to see in the mirror.
Of course, everyone is different in terms of their skin type and phone usage. But there are some habits which won’t help anyone who’s looking to keep their skin clear and vibrant (which we assume is everyone).
So take note if you’re worried about things like breakouts on cheeks or wonder about forehead acne causes and use your phone a lot. Learning how to protect your skin from your phone may be just as effective as buying another vial of cleanser or anti-blemish treatment.
You might be thinking how on Earth do phones cause skin problems. Well, your skin is quite sensitive to virtually any surface, rise or fall in temperature and even light sources. Just remember the times your skin erupted in goosebumps in a cold breeze or the rash you got after touching poison ivy.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, your phone is a high-tech skin irritant. It can cause unpleasant skin reactions in one of three ways: 1) through direct contact with germs and contaminants, 2) irritation/allergies from phone materials, 3) light exposure.
We’ve covered this before but need to revisit the topic - germs on your phone. Your phone can be as dirty (if not more) than a toilet, meaning that massive populations of bacteria thrive on your phone screen. These include germs such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, Propionibacterium acnes (a cause of acne breakouts on the cheeks and forehead) and more.
These bacteria in combination with facial oils, toxins and makeup residue (careful ladies) clog the pores, which can lead to future breakouts. Even with all of the voice-assistant technology out there, the most common way to use your phone is to have the screen pressed against your cheeks. Remember too, that swiping your screen coats your fingers with contaminants. So if you may touch your face often, you’ll expose your cheeks, forehead and more to disease-causing germs.
Here’s an overlooked fact about phones - they’re made with metals that many people have allergies to. Nickel, which many phones still contain, is a known skin irritant and linked to a frustrating condition known as allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Other metals known to cause skin irritation, including cobalt and chromium, are built into phones as well.
Again, with a phone pressed against your cheeks and on your ears, there’s a risk of developing an itchy, blistering rash in any one of these areas. The risk is greater for those who speak on the phone for more than 30-60 mins per day, and especially for people with a history for the condition or other skin problems.
By now, you’ve most likely heard all about blue light emitted by phones, and how it disrupts your sleep. But that same light source can harm your skin as well. Recent studies show that overexposure to blue light increases pigment production in an uneven fashion, which leads to age spots, blemishes and hyperpigmentation. There’s also the heat of a phone - certain conditions such as melasma (‘Pregnancy Mask’) worsen when exposed to high temperatures (which excessive phone use creates).
The science behind this blue light phenomenon is still emerging and even if it does affect people, there is likely a wide range in how it does so. With that said, people in certain age groups and with certain skin types are more likely to notice the effects more than others.
We’re sorry to make your phone seem like such an evil force against your precious skin - but it’s really not. For most people, phone use will cause no skin issues whatsoever, but it’s always better to prevent them instead of trying to find a cure.
Doing so takes a few simple habits, some of which you’re already taking as well as others to think about.
So the word is out - your phone can certainly aggravate your skin by means of misuse or pre-existing sensitivity. But don’t panic. Like anything else related to health, you can prevent troubling issues such as a breakout on the cheeks or forehead acne by taking the right precautions.
We can sum up those precautions with two words really - balance and hygiene. Put some distance between your face and your phone from time to time and make sure you’re keeping both of them clean. And of course, if you already have a skin condition, make sure you’re following your doctor’s or dermatologists recommendations.
Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll have at least one less obstacle in your quest for clearer and healthier skin.