Why Does Adderall Cause Acne? 

Adderall is a stimulant drug that can be used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It is also sometimes prescribed for weight loss, depression, or other purposes. 

However, the drug has many side effects, which range from mild to severe. One of these side effects is acne. 

This article will discuss the relationship between Adderall and acne and what you should do if your skin starts breaking out after taking the medication.

What is Adderall, and How Does It Work?

Adderall is an amphetamine that has been prescribed for decades to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

It works by altering the levels of certain brain chemicals, namely dopamine and norepinephrine. 

It is effective for helping people with ADHD improve their attention, behavior, and self-control. Plus, patients with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime drowsiness and sudden sleep attacks, have also benefited from this medication. 

How Does Adderall Affect The Skin?

Adderall can cause acne in people with abnormally oily skin. Typically people with healthy skin do not have severe acne breakouts when starting Adderall. Then you start experiencing breakouts after taking Adderall for extended periods; there may be a direct link between the two. 

To add to this, many people who experience acne while using Adderall also notice that their skin becomes red and irritated. 

This is because the drug causes an increase in blood pressure, which stimulates chemicals to be released into your body, causing you to break out. This inflammation and irritation is typically exacerbated by a poor diet filled with processed food and sugar.

Is There a Cure For Acne Caused By Adderall?

The standard acne treatment is to take an antibiotic called minocycline. This can help with the clogs that Adderall causes in your pores and could be a potential cure for this issue. 

However, you will need to speak with your doctor about it because other factors such as allergies may prevent you from taking it. You can also try using natural remedies for acne, which may also help with the symptoms. I also highly recommend checking GoodGlow’s Clear Skin Resource Kit to make sure there is nothing in your diet that could be triggering breakouts.

This can be done by eating more fruits and veggies, cutting back on processed foods, drinking lots of water, staying away from dairy products, or anything else that your doctor might suggest.

The Effects of Long-Term Use on the Skin

Adderall can cause breakouts in some people. However, the severity of acne caused by Adderall will depend on how often you use it and what other medications or drugs you are taking. 

Adderall is a stimulant that speeds up your brain activity when appropriately taken (i.e., not mixed with alcohol). So, the longer you take it, the higher your chances are of developing acne breakouts.

The Side Effects of Stopping Treatment with Adderall

Never abruptly stop taking Adderall. When discontinuing treatment, taper off the drug slowly instead of just quitting cold turkey. 

If you quit all at once without tapering down your dose, bad withdrawal symptoms may result, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening. 

Make sure to talk with your doctor about how to stop taking Adderall safely. This way, you can avoid serious side effects and remain healthy.

Why Some People Develop Acne After Taking Addreall

The primary reason people develop acne after taking Adderall is the amount of sebum that it makes. Sebum can be defined as an oily substance, that your body secretes to lubricate your hair and skin. 

When you take this medication, it triggers a hormonal reaction in your brain, causing you to secrete more oil than usual, so there is too much grease on the surface of the skin. 

This excess layer begins trapping all dirt, bacteria, and dead cells, resulting in pimples or cystic eruptions around areas you tend to sweat, like your neck or back.

Reddit Users Discuss Skin Changes While Taking Adderall

While researching this article I did a deep dive on Reddit to get some additional user data for the relation between Adderall and acne. Redditor’s experiences lined up with all of my research. The majority of users noticed breakouts when they went on Adderall and noticed that their skin cleared up if they discontinued the medication for any reason.

One Redditor said, “In February I ran out of my adderall and had 3 weeks until I’d see my doc again. In this time I coincidently noticed my skin cleared up and even stopped using a face wash with benzoyl peroxide. I went back on adderall and now my face is horrible… I’m going to stop taking it for the summer in hopes my face clears up by my wedding”


Another Redditor said, “It caused some gnarly cystic acne on my jawline, chin, and cheeks, and it was so, so painful. It didn’t matter what I did to my face, it wouldn’t budge. The only solution for me was to get off it. I tried different brands of the medication and they never made much of a difference. My skin hates the stuff with a passion. It took about a month for my acne to calm down significantly. 


Both of these user experiences line up with everything I found in my research. Unfortunately, these Redditors do not include information about their diets. I would be willing to bet both of these users could have significantly improved their acne breakouts if they followed the GoodGlow diet plan.


While there is no conclusive research to prove Adderall causes acne, there are many anecdotal accounts from patients. 

In addition, Adderall can cause other skin conditions such as dry skin and mouth sores, so the possibility that it could also cause acne seems likely given its propensity to affect multiple systems in the body. Always speak to your doctor about any side effects you experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Adderall cause acne in adults?

Yes, Adderall can cause acne in adults. Many people using stimulant medication for ADHD and ADD experience an increase in breakouts, particularly on the face and back. These breakouts are typically mild to moderate in severity and do not last very long (usually less than a few weeks).

Why do I pick my skin on Adderall?

It is a pretty common problem that you pick at your skin while on Adderall, which can cause acne. There are a few reasons you do this, but there is also a way to stop yourself from doing so, like a distraction or talking to someone.

Does Adderall affect eyes?

Adderall can make people’s eyesight blurry and make their mouth, nose, throat, or skin dry. This could lead to problems with cracking or peeling in these areas and other side effects such as a headache, dizziness, weight loss not because of dieting. Please tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of these happening.

Originally Published: November 16, 2021

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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