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.