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What Are the Benefits of Saliva for Acne?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 21, 2024
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There is little to no scientific data proving any connection between human saliva and the reduction or cure of acne, though many people claim that saliva works better than many medications. In most cases the benefits, if any, are open to interpretation and widely disputed. Saliva can be acidic, which can cause the skin to dry out and might actually make breakouts worse; it’s also generally high in bacteria, which can lead to infection. Most experts recommend that anyone who wants to try saliva as a cure wait until first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking. This is when the saliva is the “purest,” and is also a time when it isn’t as likely to have dangerous bacteria or food particles in it.

A number of researchers have begun studies on dog saliva as a treatment for acne, and some of the results have been promising. People with moderate to severe acne sometimes see a dramatic reduction in their breakouts when applying dog saliva, either in its raw form or mixed in with pharmaceutical lotions. This, too, is somewhat controversial, however.

Effects of Human Saliva

Human saliva is made primarily of water, but also contains a number of digestive enzymes. When people put food in their mouths the saliva usually starts breaking it down right away, and in most cases the saliva is considered an important part of the digestive process. There is only scant and largely anecdotal evidence suggesting that the use of one's own saliva can treat or cure pimples, however. Many people believe that it does, and this may stem from the idea that, just as the fluid breaks down food, so it could also break down the oils and blockages that cause pimples — but this hasn’t really ever been proved in any formal way.

In some cases, it might even make acne worse. Saliva contains high levels of bacteria that can infect pores and cause further breakouts. It's also drying to the skin, so consistent use could lead to flaking or chapping. This could make skin even more susceptible to bacteria, which could possibly lead to even more breakouts. To avoid these downsides, most people who want to try saliva do so first thing in the morning before any food or drink has been consumed. The fluid is also generally at its thickest and most potent after resting, too.

Dog Saliva Studies

Some studies have suggested that canine saliva might be beneficial in the treatment of acne. This could be because dog saliva has antibacterial properties. Canines lick their wounds to speed healing and prevent infection, and folklore from a number of cultures and societies suggests that allowing a dog to lick one's cuts or scrapes could lead to faster healing.

In most cases a dog's saliva is more acidic that a human's, which may be part of the explanation. Its high acidity does not support the growth of many harmful bacteria. Therefore, the use of dog saliva for acne could prevent bacteria-related acne flare-ups. This acidic nature may also help dry up excessive oils on the face. Although more research is needed to determine exactly how and why dog saliva works, it has provided an alternative cleansing option for some acne sufferers.

Usage Options

The most direct way for a person to apply saliva is to spit, either into a hand or a small container, then rub the spit directly onto the blemish. This is a bit more difficult with dogs. People can either let the animal lick their acne or they can attempt to extract the saliva in another way. Collecting drool from chew toys is one option, but others prefer to enlist a veterinarian’s assistance.

Saliva can also be mixed in with prepared acne cleansers or lotions. At least one company has implemented the use of dog saliva for acne cleansers, with a face care line that includes real dog saliva in its ingredients. Similar products may become available from other manufacturers in the future. Other ingredients, like skin soothers or other acne fighters, may also be combined to amplify the results.

Importance of Professional Care

Even when saliva, whether human or canine, seems to be working, people who have severe acne should usually consult with a dermatologist or other skin care professional. No two cases of acne are exactly the same, and each person's pimples may be caused by something slightly different. Determining the underlying factors, such as hormones or bacterial infection, can greatly increase the chances of permanently treating acne and preventing its recurrence in the future.

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Discussion Comments
By anon998334 — On May 17, 2017

I used to suffer from fungal infection during summer, because of excessive sweating. There used to be skin lesions and lot of itching in between my thighs. Then I learned that saliva contains an anti-fungal agent called Histatins. Thereafter I started applying morning saliva in between my thighs after a bath and dry it out. It really reduced my itching and also skin lesions.

I also tried using my saliva underarms and it reduced my underarm sweat smell, at least for few hours!

So my own saliva helped me in preventing fungal infections and sweat smell and I am not using any cosmetics and no antifungal creams with steroids.

By anon942574 — On Mar 28, 2014

anon927373 is right. At first I hesitated to use my own saliva in the morning, But saliva is a protein molecule, so I tried and it worked. Morning saliva removed all my pimples, including pimple marks.

By anon927373 — On Jan 24, 2014

It works, at least for me. My own saliva is the remedy. It is a tried and tested method, especially morning saliva. Before eating or drinking anything, apply it on the acne and it goes away.

By anon329102 — On Apr 08, 2013

Saliva is actually extremely beneficial to the skin on wounds. I would assume some of that would cross over to healing acne. Our mouths and bodies are full of beneficial bacteria. Bacteria is essential for human life. There are about three to four pounds of bacteria in our bodies.

By LisaLou — On Aug 05, 2012

I always had the best luck treating my acne with antibiotics. It didn't seem like special soaps or my diet ever made a difference.

I would have to think twice about using any kind of saliva, whether it was human saliva or canine saliva. It bothers me enough when I drool, I can't imagine what it would be like to purposely put saliva on my acne.

By julies — On Aug 04, 2012

I would think that human saliva would be one of the worst things you could put on your face. I have always heard our saliva contains all kinds of germs, and think it would actually make acne worse instead of helping it.

I know there are all kinds of acne remedies out there. One year when I was a kid at camp, someone told me to try putting toothpaste on my pimples. This did work a little bit because my pimples were not as noticeable in the morning.

I think it dried them up more than anything. I don't know about using dog saliva on my face though. I have never been much of a dog lover, and don't think I could quite handle the idea of smearing that all over my face.

By sunshined — On Aug 03, 2012

I am curious as to what the name of the company is that uses dog saliva in their acne cleansers. I wonder if people would be put off by this or not?

When I was a teenager I struggled with acne, and was at the point where I would have tried anything. It wouldn't have bothered me to use something like this, as long as I knew ahead of time.

My dog will always lick her wounds and my vet told me this can promote healing. I don't see why it wouldn't work on human acne too.

By golf07 — On Aug 02, 2012

I find it so interesting that canine saliva may actually help clear up acne. Maybe someone would be interested in renting out my dog since she loves to lick faces.

This is one way she loves to show affection, and who knew it could actually be keeping my face acne free all these years!

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