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Acné et contagion.

Is Acne Contagious?

Are you in fear of acne and wondering if it is contagious?  Being in contact with a person with Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) exposes us to getting acne pimples? Find answers in this article.

Published February 17, 2023, updated on March 11, 2024, by Stéphanie, Doctorate in Life and Health Sciences — 3 min read

Contrary to what many people think, acne is not a contagious condition, despite the colonization of lesions by bacteria. Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) is a skin saprophyte, i.e. it lives in the body without being pathogenic, and in fact we are all carriers of this strain. It is part of the skin's microflora and develops inside hair follicles, protected from oxygen. In addition, the hyperproliferation of the bacteria is not the only factor involved in the development of this pathology, but a factor that is added to the other mechanisms already present, leading to the inflammation of the pores, visible in the form of redness, pus and swelling that can accompany acne pimples. The appearance of acne pimples is usually due to a hormonal imbalance related to taking a contraceptive, puberty or the menstrual cycle.

Note: A phenomenon is observed with Cutibacterium acnes: The frequent or long use of certain topical or oral antibiotics (erythromycin, clindamycin, doxycycline, azithromycin, tetracycline...) in acne patients has led to the appearance of resistant bacterial strains. The time of emergence of this resistance would be approximately 3 weeks after the beginning of the treatment by antibiotic therapy. It is possible to transmit this modified strain by skin contact, but this does not mean that acne as a condition is transmitted.


  • CUNLIFFE W. J. & al. Prevalence of antibiotic-resistant propionibacteria on the skin of acne patients: 10-year surveillance data and snapshot distribution study. British Journal of Dermatology (2002).

  • DRÉNO B. & al. Bacterial resistance in French acne patients. International Journal of Dermatology (2010).


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