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Can Zoloft Cause Acne? (Everything You Need to Know)

If you are reading this article, you are probably wondering, "Can Zoloft cause acne?" The connection between antidepressants like Zoloft and skin conditions like acne can be complex. 

This in-depth guide will explore every possible angle: from how Zoloft functions as an antidepressant to the science behind acne development, and finally, how and why these two may intersect.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Zoloft may contribute to or worsen acne, although the research is inconclusive.
  • Increased cell production is one of the mechanisms by which Zoloft could potentially affect your skin, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.
  • Consulting with healthcare providers for a personalized plan is crucial when you're on medication that may affect your mental and skin health.
  • Exposed Skin Care offers a well-rounded approach to skincare that can help manage acne, including cases potentially exacerbated by Zoloft.

Young woman taking zoloft closed up

What Is Zoloft?

Before diving into the question, "Can Zoloft cause acne?" it is crucial to understand what Zoloft is and how it works in the body. Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline, a medication used to treat various psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety.

How Does Zoloft Work?

Sertraline belongs to a class of antidepressants called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs increase serotonin levels in the brain, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in mood regulation.

Anatomy of Acne: Understanding the Skin Condition

To answer "Can Zoloft cause acne?", we need to examine acne first. It is a common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.

The Different Types of Acne

  • Mild Acne: Consists of whiteheads and blackheads, generally easy to manage.
  • Moderate Acne: Involves a greater number of whiteheads, blackheads, and possibly some pimples.
  • Severe Acne: Characterized by large, painful pimples or cysts under the skin.

Close up of large acne

The Role of Hormones and Lifestyle Factors

Both hormones and lifestyle factors can contribute to acne. Hormone levels, particularly cortisol, fluctuate in response to stress and can lead to increased oil production. Meanwhile, poor lifestyle choices like an unhealthy diet and lack of regular exercise can exacerbate acne problems.

Zoloft and Acne: The Crossroads

Let us now discuss the intersection of Zoloft and acne. Many antidepressants, including SSRIs like Zoloft, have been linked with a risk of developing acne as a possible side effect.

The Chemical Connection

The main active component in Zoloft, sertraline, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. While its primary function is to treat depression by blocking the nerves from reabsorbing serotonin, this mechanism can also cause various side effects, including skin issues like acne.

Adverse Effects: What to Watch For

When taking sertraline, some of the adverse effects you might experience besides acne could include dry mouth, sweating, and redness. Increased sweating can wreak havoc on your skin, creating an ideal environment for acne spots to thrive.

Other Antidepressants: Lexapro, Prozac, and Lithium

It's not just Zoloft; other types of antidepressants like Lexapro and Prozac, or mood stabilizers like lithium, also have a history of causing acne. If you're taking antidepressants, being mindful of the risk of acne and other possible side effects is essential.

Hand holding different types of pills

Impact of Zoloft on Existing Acne

If you already suffer from acne, it might worsen when you start taking Zoloft. Your acne may become more severe due to medication side effects, including increased oil production and cortisol levels.

Taking antidepressants like Zoloft can impact your skin in multiple ways. Increased oil production, hormone fluctuations, and lifestyle factors can lead to acne breakouts or exacerbate skin problems.

Lifestyle Adjustments to Manage Acne While on Zoloft

While we've established that taking Zoloft can potentially contribute to acne, there are lifestyle changes you can make to minimize the impact on your skin.

Maintaining a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in processed foods can aid in acne management. Foods high in omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help manage redness and irritation.

Exercise: Your Double-Edged Sword

Regular exercise can help manage stress, lowering cortisol levels, which could otherwise exacerbate acne. However, be mindful of your hygiene; sweat and grime from workouts can clog pores, leading to breakouts.

Skin Care Practices

Keeping your skin clean, particularly if you have oily skin, can help prevent acne. Use products that don't clog pores, and remove dead skin cells regularly. Be cautious when introducing new skincare products, as a bad reaction to the drug can also cause skin rash.

Woman cleaning her face with skin care product

Acne Causes: Is Zoloft the Real Culprit?

It is vital to consider that acne could result from various factors, not just Zoloft. Stress causes inflammation, which can contribute to acne. Furthermore, social anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, the conditions Zoloft is used to treat, may also cause lifestyle changes that lead to acne.

Pinpointing the Cause

If you're experiencing acne after taking Zoloft, it may be tempting to blame the medication immediately. However, multiple factors may be at play, including hormone levels, diet, and even the type of medication you're on. Acne may also occur due to other medications or classes of antidepressants you may be taking concurrently.

Although Zoloft and similar SSRIs may cause acne, they are highly effective in treating psychological conditions. A careful evaluation of benefits versus side effects should be considered before making any significant changes to your medication regimen.

Managing Acne with Exposed Skin Care

While the question "Can Zoloft cause acne?" looms large for many taking the drug, there is a promising solution to manage acne. This is where Exposed Skin Care comes in, a comprehensive skincare line designed to tackle acne at its root.

Exposed Skin Care Basic Kit

Why choose Exposed Skin Care?

  • Targets Multiple Skin Types: Exposed Skin Care caters to all skin types, whether your acne is a common oily skin issue or a rare occurrence.
  • Healthy Ingredients: The blend of advanced scientific ingredients and natural extracts offers a holistic approach to skincare.
  • Lessens Subsequent Breakouts: Consistent use of the Treatment Serum and Clear Pore Serum effectively reduces acne blemishes and whiteheads, decreasing the risk of subsequent breakouts.

Pairing Exposed Skin Care with a healthy diet and regular exercise can go a long way in managing these skincare woes.  Turning to Exposed Skin Care can be a valuable addition to your routine to clear your skin.


The ongoing debate around whether antidepressants like Zoloft can cause acne is fraught with complexities. As we've explored, the relationship between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and acne is still not entirely understood.

 However, many who use Zoloft to treat depression have reported worsening acne conditions. The increase in cell production, among other factors, contributes to the likelihood of getting acne or worsening existing acne.

Frequently asked questions around this topic often revolve around mitigating the risks and finding a balance that treats mental health conditions effectively and doesn't wreak havoc on the skin. 

A comprehensive skincare routine, like Exposed Skin Care, can be a beneficial part of managing acne. Its products aim to mitigate the risk factors associated with antidepressant-induced acne by offering a well-rounded skincare approach.

Understanding that treating your mental health should not sacrifice your skin's health is crucial. Find a balanced solution that helps your skin and mental well-being.

Though more research is needed to determine whether SSRIs can increase the risk of developing acne, being proactive about your skincare while on medication is a step in the right direction.


Can Zoloft really cause acne?

While the research is not conclusive, some reports suggest Zoloft and other SSRIs may worsen or contribute to acne.

What type of medication is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used primarily to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

How does increased cell production relate to acne?

Increased cell production can lead to clogged pores, exacerbating existing acne or new breakouts.

What are the common side effects of SSRIs like Zoloft?

Common side effects include dry mouth, digestive issues, and sometimes skin conditions like rash or acne.

What role does Exposed Skin Care play in managing antidepressant-induced acne?

Exposed Skin Care offers a comprehensive range of products that help manage acne by targeting various risk factors, including those potentially induced by SSRIs.