Q. I thought I’d share my experience using Listerine as an acne treatment after reading about it in your column. I have tried all types of antibiotics and topical prescriptions on the market. Nothing has worked as well as applying Listerine morning and night. Who knew it could be that simple?

A. Listerine was first brought out as a surgical antiseptic sold to doctors starting in 1879. By the early 20th century, it was being promoted to consumers as a mouthwash. It was also touted for dandruff and “bad skin.”

The herbal oils and alcohol in Listerine have antimicrobial properties, and many readers have reported success using it for fungal infections such as jock itch, dandruff and nail fungus. Other readers have also found, as you did, that it helps clear blemishes.

One reader commented: “I chuckled when I read this article about Listerine. As a teen I remember my mother telling me to use Listerine to help the little bit of acne I had. I was blessed with very good skin and the Listerine did wonders. As an adult I have used Witch Hazel to remove makeup and clean my skin. I tend to have oily skin even as a senior citizen (thanks to my Italian heritage and olive oil consumption since birth) and this helps me a lot. I had actually forgotten about the Listerine. Thanks for jogging my memory.”

LER opined: “The success of Listerine for ‘adult acne’ makes sense if it is really caused by inflammation due to fungal growth on the skin.”

Whether the offending organisms are fungal (such as Malassezia yeast like those that cause dandruff) or bacterial (such as Propionibacterium acnes), Listerine seems to have some activity against them.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Keri Billen

    Since I was 23 I’ve had an acne-related skin condition around my forehead and eyes that causes blepheroconjunctivitis if left untreated (the doctor described it as dandruff around my eyelashes). My diet is very healthy, I do lots of exercise, and rigorously maintained hygiene of the skin around my forehead and eyes didn’t help. More than 20yrs of oxytetracycline antiobiotics kept it under control. But I had to come off them recently, and the skin condition is now better than it was when it started. So I’ve been able to stay off the antibiotics. But the skin on my forehead is still a little prone to the ‘acne’ inflammation. I’ve been treating it every morning with Listerine, followed by some moisturiser, and it seems to be controlling the problem by reducing the inflammation.

  2. gabrielle

    I purchased this product just to see if it would work – I had minimal expectations but I’ve noticed a huge difference after tried dermalmd.Will definitely purchase for daily use.

  3. Kimberly

    Thanks to The People’s Pharmacy for this tip! I’ll definitely try it on my acne. I was using Listerine as mouthwash for long time but I don’t like it strong taste. After Listerine I feel as I ate many hot chili peppers and I stopped using it. But maybe now I’ve found another method to cure other things with it. Thanks for help!

  4. s.h.

    Soak a cotton ball with Listerine, or Sea Breeze and rub on face, as if using a clarifying lotion from the department store.
    As for exfoliation, if needed, try what southern women have used for a couple hundred years for great skin, a wash cloth. Not a Foo Foo velvety one, but a cheap, thin, rough textured, worn out wash cloth. It works as well as any fancy exfoliator.
    Good luck.

  5. s.h.

    Vick’s vapo rub works the same way.
    Also, my little sister cleaned her face daily with Sea Breeze. Its ingredients were very similar to Gold Listerine and Vick’s vapo rub.

  6. Lisa

    I loved a product call Listerex! I am soo disappointed that they discontinued this particular product that was paramount in treating my acne as a teen…I begged through email for the company to bring it back, but of course it never was. I would LUV to know what ingredient was used for the exfoliating portion so I can recreate it myself! How easy if it were still on the shelf, as my kids suffer from mild acne, and so do I!

  7. LES

    How do you use Listerine for acne? I have always had acne and have tried everything over the counter, I can’t afford to go to a dermatologist.

  8. LJT

    About 30 years ago I got shingles. The rash and pain went from my hip to my right knee. My doctor told me to get a bottle of the gold Listerine and rub it on. I don’t recall how many times a day I did it but the rash and pain was gone in a short time. I never had any lingering pain after that. So if you get shingles give it a try. It certainly won’t hurt anything.

    • Shirley
      Huntsville, AL

      I tried everything too and none of it worked. The prescriptions were very expensive. I tried listerine out of desperation and it started to clear up. I am still using it and every one in a while I have a zit pop up but thanks to the listerine it doesn’t stay long. Good luck to you.

  9. Jennifer

    I have chronic dermatitis on my lower legs. I haven’t determined what triggers flare ups. An allergy test was negative. Listerine is what I use to quell the itchiness.

  10. A. Reed-Davis

    I have been fighting with acne since high school. Now that I’m 44 years old and still have acne, I read in the newspaper that Listerine can clear up blemishes and acne. I have been using it for the sat 3 weeks and I see a change. Thanks to The People’s Pharmacy for their help.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.