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Can Acne Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes? (Causes, Treatments, and More)

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. It can be a source of considerable distress, mainly due to its impact on appearance.

However, there's a less-discussed aspect to this common affliction, namely, the potential swelling of the lymph nodes. This blog sheds light on this intricate relationship, its causes, treatments, and other valuable information.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Severe, inflamed acne can occasionally cause swollen lymph nodes as an immune response, though this is not a sign of a cancerous condition.
  • When the body can't effectively eliminate toxins and bacteria, the skin can bear the brunt of the issue, leading to breakouts and potential lymphatic system involvement.
  • Daily skincare practices, including facial massages and draining lymph nodes, can help manage acne and prevent lymph node swelling.
  • The use of Exposed Skin Care, an effective skincare regimen, can significantly help in reducing severe acne, the risk of swollen lymph nodes, and lead to clear, healthy skin.

Woman checking her lymph nodes

Can Acne Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes: The Link Unraveled

Acne: A Quick Overview

Acne is a common skin condition primarily occurring when the follicles of hair become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This clogging can cause different types of acne, such as pimple, cyst, or a severe form known as cystic acne.

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during adolescence, can exacerbate acne. However, acne can be triggered mainly along the jawline and chin regardless of age.

The inflammation resulting from acne can lead to the development of a scar, and in extreme cases, to a permanent scar. Even the seemingly innocuous zit can cause a surprising amount of trouble if not managed appropriately.

Understanding the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is an integral part of the immune system, comprising lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and other components. It plays a crucial role in fighting off infections and draining excess fluid from the body.

When the lymphatic system is blocked and fluid is building up, it's usually the skin that suffers the consequences. The lymph nodes, small glands scattered throughout the body, are pivotal for this system.

They house immune cells that combat infection or viruses by creating a defensive response to any foreign bodies (antigens) entering the system.

Connecting Acne and Swollen Lymph Nodes

So, can acne cause swollen lymph nodes? Yes, under certain circumstances. When acne reaches deep into the skin layers, it can become inflamed, potentially leading to the swelling of the lymph nodes located primarily in the neck region.

Girl with severe acne on face

In such cases, the nodes swell as a reaction to the inflammation triggered by the acne breakout, not the acne itself. The immune system releases white blood cells to the acne site, producing pus, leading to a cystic acne formation.

The lymph nodes in the neck, under the jawline, or even those near the collar bone, can swell in response to this infection. This occurrence is relatively rare but can happen with severe acne forms, such as acne fulminans and cystic acne, both involving deep, painful inflammation.

Remember, the lymph nodes' swelling isn't a direct effect of acne but an immune response to inflammation and infection.

Causes and Triggers of Swollen Lymph Nodes due to Acne

The Cutibacterium Acnes Bacteria

Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes), is a type of bacteria linked to acne. Although they naturally live on the skin, an overgrowth can lead to inflammation and consequently acne. If the body interprets this overgrowth as an infection, it may react, causing the lymph nodes to swell.

Hormonal Imbalances and Toxins

Hormonal changes can trigger acne, especially along the jawline and chin, leading to inflamed and cystic acne. When the body is dealing with excess toxins and hormonal imbalance, the lymphatic system can become overloaded and inflamed, leading to swollen lymph nodes.

Acne Fulminans

Acne fulminans, a sudden onset of highly inflammatory acne, often causes a severe reaction in some individuals. This can lead to systemic symptoms, such as fever, joint pain, complete loss of appetite, and extreme loss of weight. In addition, the inflammation level can cause swollen lymph nodes, particularly those in the neck.

Treatments and Preventions

Proper Skincare

First and foremost, proper skincare can help manage acne and potentially prevent the inflammation that could cause swollen lymph nodes. Opt for non-comedogenic products that won't clog pores and cause breakouts. Stick to a routine that suits your skin type for optimal skin health.

Girl with skincare mask using phone

Over-the-counter Treatments

Products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can be effective in treating acne. They can dry out the acne, reduce inflammation, and kill the Cutibacterium acnes bacteria. However, these products should be used sparingly as overuse can irritate and dry out the skin.


For severe or cystic acne, your doctor might recommend oral medications such as antibiotics or isotretinoin, a potent medication for severe acne. While antibiotics can kill the bacteria causing acne, isotretinoin can shrink the oil glands, reducing sebum production.

Lymphatic Drainage

You can use a facial massage tool to drain your lymphs, which may help reduce swelling. Gentle massage promotes the movement of lymphatic fluids and helps to draw out toxic bacteria from the nodes, thus keeping your skin healthy and reducing inflammation.

Managing Acne with Exposed Skin Care

If you're looking for a comprehensive system to help manage acne, Exposed Skin Care may be your answer. This multi-step skincare line focuses on clearing skin and reducing the likelihood of further breakouts.

Exposed Skin Care Expanded Kit

Here are some potential benefits of using Exposed Skin Care:

  • Clear Skin: By unclogging pores, it minimizes the chance of getting stuck under the skin breakouts, reducing facial acne, and aiding in clear skin.
  • Reduction in Swelling: Its anti-inflammatory ingredients can help decrease the swelling of lymph nodes, which acne can cause. Remember that the lymph nodes can swell as an immunologically induced response to severe acne.
  • Spot Treatment: It includes a spot treatment that targets specific blemishes, minimizing the possibility of creating a lump.
  • Reduces Risk: By managing acne effectively, it can decrease the risk of developing severe forms of acne that can even cause swollen lymph nodes.
  • Fast Results: Many users have reported seeing improvements in their acne and the lymph nodes in their neck within weeks.

So, regardless of the cause of your acne, consider trying Exposed Skin Care. Just be sure to follow the recommended daily regimen around your face for optimal results. Please read our privacy policy for more information about your obligations consultation.


In conclusion, acne, a common skin condition, can in rare cases lead to swollen lymph nodes. This phenomenon generally occurs when the acne is severe, inflamed, and deep enough to stimulate an immune response, activating the lymph nodes and causing them to swell.

While this doesn't imply a cancerous condition, it's important to understand that when toxins are stuck, and there's a growth of bacteria, it's usually the skin that suffers the consequences. Therefore, taking measures to manage acne is essential to avoid this kind of complication.

Adopting an effective skincare regimen, like Exposed Skin Care, can help significantly in this regard. By following the recommended daily regimen, especially around your face, you can reduce the risk of severe acne that can get swollen lymph nodes.

And, remember to always drain your lymphs like a skincare pro, keeping an eye on your lymph nodes, especially if you experience inflexibility in the neck or any lump formation. The journey to clear skin and a healthy lymphatic system can be a breeze with the right information and skincare strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a pimple cause swollen lymph nodes?

While a standard pimple is unlikely to cause swollen lymph nodes, severe forms of acne, such as cystic acne or acne fulminans, can lead to swollen lymph nodes.

Can acne on the neck cause swollen lymph nodes?

Yes, if the acne on the neck is severe, inflamed, and infected, it could potentially lead to swollen lymph nodes in the neck area.

Is the swelling of lymph nodes due to acne dangerous?

Not typically. Swelling in response to acne is your body's natural reaction to fight the infection. However, persistent, painful, or extremely large swelling should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to rule out other potential causes.

Can acne treatments help with swollen lymph nodes?

While acne treatments mainly target skin perfection by reducing acne, they indirectly aid swollen lymph nodes by reducing inflammation and bacterial overgrowth, potentially causing swelling.

Can skin breakouts of acne cause lymph nodes to swell on only the right side of my neck?

Swelling can occur on one side depending on where the inflammation or infection is located. If you have severe acne on one side, the corresponding lymph nodes may swell.

How long does it take for swollen lymph nodes due to acne to go down?

The swelling should typically decrease once the inflammation or infection is under control, usually within weeks. However, the timeline can vary based