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Acne mechanica
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Acne mechanica

Contributors: Vanessa T. Tan MBA, Jeffrey Globerson DO, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Acne mechanica is a form of acne that arises from repetitive physical disruption to the skin barrier. It may occur in any individual, although teenagers and young adults who suffer from acne vulgaris are more prone to its development. Repetitive trauma related to tight clothing, athletic gear such as headgear or shoulder pads, musical instruments, and long-distance driving can precipitate the condition. Athletes are considered at higher risk due to the frequent use of helmets, chin straps, shoulder pads, collars, tight clothing, golf bags, etc.

In 2020, higher rates of acne mechanica were reported due to the habitual use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, colloquially known as "maskne." A change in the facial microbiome, increased local temperature with subsequent increase in sweating, and friction are all thought to be important in its pathogenesis.

Acne mechanica presents similarly to acne vulgaris. Acneiform papules and pustules may eventuate into nodules or cysts. Comedones may also be seen.


L70.8 – Other acne

13101006 – Acne mechanica

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Acne vulgaris
  • Pomade acne
  • Occupational acne
  • Rosacea
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Occlusive Folliculitis
  • Other folliculitides (see, eg, Demodex folliculitis)
  • Miliaria rubra
  • Miliaria pustulosa
  • Herpes zoster
  • Nevus comedonicus
  • Favre-Racouchot syndrome
  • Milia en plaque (see Milia)

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Last Reviewed:12/25/2021
Last Updated:12/26/2021
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Acne mechanica
A medical illustration showing key findings of Acne mechanica
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.