Acne Community
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Avatar universal

effexor and painful acne

I have been taking effexor for nearly a year and since taking it, I have been experiencing almost constant acne on my chin area.  They are very red, sometimes sore and itchy... and last FOREVER.  When one goes, another appears.  they are very unsightly!  Is it medication related?  
16 Responses
Avatar universal
I am not sure the answer to your question. I am not a doctor by any means! I struggled with acne throughout my teenage years, into my adult years. I did Accutane twice. I still have to be very careful with washing my face every night and taking good care of my skin (sitting here with a Proactiv mask on now!) I was on Effexor for two years, but never saw a correlation with breakouts. Honestly, Proactiv has been great in controlling my acne. Maybe you should give it a try! Just a thought...this is the first post from the "Acne" forum I have read.
Avatar universal
I have been on a few anti-depressants starting with Celexa, Wellbutrin and now Effexor... I started on Effexor about a month ago and have since noticed the exact same symptoms of acne! My chin under my lip has been breaking out continuously and as soon as one acne blemish is clearing up another whitehead comes! I have also developed acne on my back/shoulders with some very large pimples that just wont seem to go away.  I noticed a similar affect with Wellbutrin but mainly just on my back/shoulders nowhere near as bad as with Effexor.  I was on accutane in my teenage years which helped clear up my acne significantly.  Interistingly accutane had a side affect of depression.  I am now 29, depressed and have acne again! I haven't seen a positive effect with my depression on this drug and will be tapering off the medication and try something different because of these embarassing acne side effects and no impact the drug is having on me positively...
309783 tn?1271961829
Hi. This is really interesting. Research shows that, not suprisingly, those of us with acne and rosacea are more prone to depression and anxiety. I was prescribed Venlafaxine (Effexor) to help me deal with the anxiety and social phobia I felt due to my acne. It has really helped me, and not increased my acne. Acne is not mentioned as a potential side effect of Effexor in the leaflet enclosed with the pills.
DO NOT stop taking Effexor suddenly because serious withdrawal symptoms may occur. I have reduced from 150mg daily to 75mg and I'm now on 37.5mg.
See your doctor for a suitable acne medication. Oral antibiotics can be helpful. I wouldn't take Erythromycin whilst on Effexor as it may affect the way your medicine passes through your body. Ask your doctor about Oxytetracycline or Lymecycline instead.
If you would like a topical remedy ask your doctor about Differin. This is a synthetic retinoid which is generally well tolerated on the skin.
Female patients with acne will benefit from the oestrogen content of a combined oral contraceptive pill like Yasmin or Diane35. Female patients taking Venlafaxine should also take birth control as Venlafaxine may harm an unborn baby.
Avatar universal
I developed very painful nodular/cystic acne after being on Effexor for a few months.  I took Effexor for several years.  No doctor knew this could be a side effect.  After many dermatology appointments over several years with different doctors, many RX's for acne treatment, plus special gels, ointments, face cleansers, etc prescribed by the dermatologists, I found no relief from this acne condition, I then found sites online describing this same problem among Effexor users.  I weaned off the Effexor and my skin cleared rapidly!  I was left with pits and scars on my face and neck from the years of severe acne caused by the Effexor.  I changed nothing else in terms of medications, diet or skin care.  I stopped taking the Effexor and my skin cleared.  If I had known this was a side effect, I would never have taken Effexor.  My face is scarred forever.  Not something that easy to live with as many other medications were and are available for treatment of depression; ones that do not cause this type of severe acne in so many users.
309783 tn?1271961829
Hi. Thank-you for your post. I cleared my acne scarring with microdermabrasion (see pictures in my profile). Laser treatments and chemical peels can also be effective.
Fortunately Effexor did not make my acne worse, especially as I was prescribed it for the psychological distress and social phobia associated with acne.
There are other drugs to treat depression and Effexor should not be a first line treatment, but it can help people for whom SSRI anti-depressants such as Prozac are ineffective.
Avatar universal
I am relieved to read that I may not be the only one with this horrid acne! I just started taking Effexor XR in march/april 2009. I had stopped taking seasonique in November 2008. I had assumed that my initial acne was due to going off of the birth control. But as time passed my acne has gotten more severe, consistent, and painful! I had always had very clear skin after my early teen years with the exception of blackheads. I definately am going to talk to my Dr. about it!.

Avatar universal
Well I'm sure that Effexor is the reason why my neck,face, arms and back don't heal from this painful acne.  I started decreasing the Effexor by removing 25 beads every night out of each capsule.  My skin started to heal, my husband and kids where so amazed how clear my skin was looking.  Until the horrible depression kicked in...I had to start taking the Effexor full dose, guess what?? The Ugly acne is back too!! My skin has lost its pigmentation in the areas where the acne has attacked my skin.  I look like I have a bunch of bright white marks all over my chest neck and back, bedsides the scabs of fresh new acne marks.  I need help, the doctor doesn't believe its the Effexor.  I want to take someone to court, this is BAD!!

8( Very Sad...
I would just tell your doctor that you want a different anti-depressant and are not willing to take effexor any more. I would insist on it. If your doctor doesn't respect your request to try a different anti-depressant, then I would find a new doctor.  Just a note - I don't recommend Luvox because that one also caused me skin problems. I took Lexapro (citalopram) for years and never had this skin problem, so I may ask my doctor to go back to that.
1327428 tn?1275020925
Hi, well for the past 6 years i have been taking effexor, i started on the 75mg dose for about 18months then uped it to the 150mg and for years i have been blaming the pill and all sorts of stuff for my acne until one day i thought "i wonder if it has anything to do with the effexor" which i know i didnt think of for years.....(obviously cos it didnt say it was a side effect i didnt think it would have been)..but reading this has got me horrified! i have suffered with adult acne for the past 6 years and not once did i think it was the effexor!....im thinking about going back down to the 75mg...but now im thinking i should ask the doc if i could wean myself off all together! i dont want the acne anymore i am so over it!

Avatar universal

I'm finally realizing that in addition to the weight gain, the hair thinning and acne has become unbearable for me.

Although mentally, Effexor has helped me tremendously, I have slowly fallen apart physically over the years (approx 9!!!)

I would LOVE to hear if the people who have stopped using Effexor have regained their hair thickness....
Has the acne cleared up?
Have you re-lost the weight?

Also, what medication (if any) did you switch to, and are you happy with it?

Since I am clinically depressed, I am very nervous about not being on any medication at all
(since my life may fall apart again)

Thanks in advance!
Avatar universal
hi guys i too have been on efexor for many years and always had relatively good skin i often got remarks from people on how clear my skin was. well not anymore! for 6 months now i have been gettin bad acne on my forehead and chin along with some on my back. the spots range from small white heads to big painful ones and they last forever! once one starts to get better more appear. i've been tearing my hair out wondering wat could be the cause as my healthy diet has not changed and today i thought to myself i wonder if its the venlafaxine as i increased to 150mg 6 months ago. i am now sure this is the cause!!!!
Avatar universal
I am so glad I found this site. I have been on a very low dose of Effexor (37.5mg) for a few months now. I have started getting huge cysts on the back of my neck, behind my ears and in my hairline. In addition, my rosacea is back on my forehead and my nose. Those blisters itch and bleed and look awful. The large cysts never come to a head and take forever to decrease in size. I went on Effexor for hot flashes, not for depression so I am stopping this as of today. I hope this will be the end of this painful acne.
Avatar universal
I know everyone is different in how they react to medications.  However, I AM absolutely POSITIVE now that Effexor has been the cause of Acne I've been experiencing.  I've been on this medication for over 3 years, taking the lowest dose up to 300mg at one point.  A slow withdrawal of tapering down over the past year and even on the very smallest of doses and even Half doses of the smallest amount, I was STILL experiencing HORRIBLE skin problems.  I was CONVINCED that it was ANYthing BUT this med.  I was SOOO wrong!  Effexor was effective, lol, at the time I needed for anxiety and depression.  It was very quick acting and I was relieved for that.  I should of been brave enough to come off it after a while and didnt.  I had B12 deficiencies after a while which is quite rare for a person of my age (36 at the time) to just suddenly develop.  So, I felt horrible from the vitamin problem but assumed I needed an increase in the Effexor because the deficiency still wasnt diagnosed.  Prior to this experience though, I did gain about 20 lbs easy and havent been able to lose any of it, NO matter WHAT...  Then some hair loss, then all the skin issues started and thats why I didnt relate it to that initially.  Well, ever since it all started and regardless of the dose amount, it only got worse and WORSE until I FINALLY just weaned off completely......  : /  I HAD FLAWLESS SKIN, NOT ANYMORE...  I dont think i got cystic type but maybe once or twice.  I had increasingly ever changing skin from dry to extremely oily, always itchy skin ALL over, the acne never truly went away and seemed as though I bleed very easily as well, healing seemed almost non-existent.  My hair towards the end of this nightmare was falling out like crazy and im a women so obviously concerned.  Not ONE Dr has related this to the Effexor in any shape or form.  I tried vitamins, topical creams or acne lotions, natural and not so natural.  All of which, does not work as long as Effexor is in your system. Maybe a slight relief but never really worked as to keep it away or help with healing.  I mean, I tried everything...  The Acne makes you feel a million times worse about yourself and being in public and almost destroyed me as a person.  It started with my face, mostly the chin and cheek areas, then forehead (which I also randomly developed large darker skin pigmentation areas as well, patches...)  UGHHHHH, Im so frustrated that I didnt notice until now and I just PRAY the scars and blemishes can diminish in time completely but I just dont know if they will.  A lifetime with flawless type skin and now this....  Very sad when you have to trade in one ailment for another...  The acne started slightly on my chest and pretty much breast area at first, itchy, annoying, and almost rash like instead of white heads or anything. It had gotten increasingly worse with time as did my BACK also... NO acne to acne everywhere and it was rash like, blackheads, whiteheads, dry areas sometimes but mostly oily.  Id occasionally get an itchy pimple type thing on my legs and just the slightest of itching them caused dark scars that arent going away yet and has been at least six months since they formed.  It looked like nothing but a tiny itchy bump that may have been caused by shaving or something.  This is what I dont get.  Effexor is obviously preventing our bodies from proper healing and therefore what else???  The end result SO FAR, it that I am completely weaned off of the med and its almost 2 months now since the last dose.  Well, apparently the acne that has gotten to horrifying and embarrassing levels (to say the LEAST), is magically healing and disappearing!!!!!!  My chest area after about a year or so of non stop irritation and breakouts spreading to cover more and more of my body has JUST started to dry up and appear as a normal skin that I havent seen in years.  I am literally dumbfounded!!  My face and back are also doing the same, just now finally.....  Every last thing I tried, did Nothing.  Not until the effexor has been eliminated from my system... So, if you develop acne on this med, there is a GREAT possibility that it IS in fact the cause.  Im really mad about this, can you tell..?  I've never posted any comments on any sites but this one, as of yet.  I just dont bother, but I've benefited from posts in the past and I really hope someone finds this in time, not to suffer the same results. Or to continually question themselves on all the other things that may be causing it, like i did of course.  Before permanent damage occurs or increased depression from the acne alone, think about stopping or never starting this med to begin with.  I also had one other acne situation with Wellbutrin but was off before long.  I had no idea that anti-depressions could cause something so nasty to happen to your skin.  Dont be fooled, it can take time for it to get obvious, or increasing horrible...  Thats the way it happened to me.  I really hope that I can help someone from suffering in any way, and validate those who have had the same symptoms.  It is NOT your imagination!  I hope you all heal well and fast, in every aspect.  Best wishes to everyone.  If I can, i will try to post again on any other improvements while being off this drug!
Hi Tia, I have been having very similar effects on venlafaxine . I take three 75 mg tabs a day. I used to have flawless skin for the most part before this med. it started on my face little flesh colored bumps in a small area then they spread all over my whole face! Then I started to get moles and and bumps all over my chest now!!! I went to the dermatologist and she said it is keratosis Polaris . I looked that up online and it said this is caused by genetics . NOT in this case!!! Now my skin itches after showers and at night super bad. Anyway the med works great for my depression . But my skin is paying for it. I didn't put the two together at first. Now I know it's from the meds. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I felt from the beginning I should not take antidepressants but I disobeyed cause I was severely depressed. I've been through a lot . I need counsel , Jesus. But I've also been on other antidepressants. Celexa for one. Caused depression to go away but my thick beautifil hair fell out !!! Now I have 1/8 of the amount I used to have. Plus I gained 40 lbs!!! Had electric shocks and anger bursts! When I abruptly stopped using the med. my dr never told me I had to wean off!!! Now I'm still on venlafaxine . I tried to wean down to two pills a day. I had major withdrawals . Then went back up to three pills. Im scarred to get off cause the severity of my depression. But my skin! I got Jesus. I know He can and will get us through anything. He has done amazing things for me in the past. I think I'm going to get off. Thanks for your post Tia, really helped me. I can relate. Plus red bumps like razor burn on legs itchy!
Also forgot to mention my hair is in a resting faze wile on this med. it's just wimpy now.
Also I forgot to mention when taking celexa for depression I not only lost the hair on my head gained 40 lbs I also grew black course hairs on my chin!!! Antidepressants can really help, but sometimes the side effects aren't worth it! And they effect everyone differently.
Avatar universal
I took venlafaxine, which I think is generic for Effexor, after weaning off  Pristiq.  I took the generic for no more than 2 months, in decreasing amounts.  I was anxious to get the weaning over with because around my lower nose, I had developed small, red, flaky breakouts, some with tiny whiteheads which when squeezed, contained watery discharge.  Now, about 1 month off the medication, the breakouts have migrated to around my mouth.  I keep hoping that off the meds, the breakouts will stop.  I can only be glad I haven't experienced the large, cystic-type, itching and painful breakouts that many people have reported.  I hope my doctor can prescribe something to clear up the problem!
Avatar universal
Well - wow - glad I came across this forum. I have been taking efexor 75mg for about 2 years now for anxiety & my skin is terrible - I have tried everything, questioning my diet, trying to drink 2 ltrs of water per day, been on Doxcyline, used Differin cream, normal acne medication, but nothing seems to clear my skin. I have from tiny little spots with small heads on them, which are mainly on my neck but on my face too,- to larger spots on my chest.  every time I get dressed, I am constantly trying to wear clothes that cover my chest area, which is pretty hard to do in the summer.  So as you all know, when your skin is bad - that alone is depressing - Only yesterday I thought  - Could it be Efexor?? So after reading all your comments - I think it is a definite possibility - so as of today, I am going to wean myself off & will fingers cross see an improvement in my skin - I will let you know the results - thanks for posting your comments - was a great help to read.....
Avatar universal
I have been on venlafaxine now for 5 months and have been getting constant acne since.  On my face, on my back, even on my buttocks.  They tend to be cystic type on the face and back and or odd pimples that I cannot help but scratch.  I have scratched until I am a bloody pulp!  I am trying to determine if it is in fact the venlafaxine that is causing this. The appearance of the acne was not immediately after starting on the medication, but maybe a month or so later, and is getting worse.  
I have been on the generic of Effexor XR for over two months now and I began having acne all over my forehead about a month and a half after starting Effexor.  I also got random ones all over my face, and along my hairline.  Now, in the past few weeks, they're all over my shoulders and upper back. They itch and some are small with white heads, others are slightly large and red, while a few will be huge and painful.  I never had pimples even in my teen years let alone now at age 46. People would tell me how young and healthy my skin was for my age until now.  It has to be the Effexor.  There are way too many people with this same side effect.  I was on Remeron as a sleep aid until a few weeks ago.  The Effexor is the only medication I am on now.  I am convinced it is the culprit of the acne along with other bothersome side effects.  I do NOT like this medication at all.  I am afraid to wean off it, though, as I was diagnosed with GAD and severe depression.  The Effexor doesn't help my anxiety very well.  I would love to live a medication free life again but I am afraid with all the death in my family (both my parents and my sister in law) and my own health issues, I worry too much and have too much anxiety to not be on something.  I don't want to take benzos again as I totally became addicted to the one I was on and went off it for good.  I am thinking maybe Cymbalta or Prozac instead of Effexor but dread the weaning and switching to a new one if it doesn't work.  Has anyone successfully weaned off Effexor and onto either Cymbalta or Prozac?  Thank you for your time and attention to anyone who reads this.  I have felt so alone until I started reading these forums and I truly feel for anyone suffering the way I have with anxiety and depression and health worries.  They can be truly debilitating and can take all of the joy out of life.
Thank you!! I really thought I was going crazy. I have been struggling with acne for a while now and I was finally able to clear my face. But I have been taking Effexor for months now and I noticed that I had red bumps all over my forehead and along my hair line. They’re really painful and I can’t seem to get rid of them no matter how much I take care of my skin! I really don’t know what to do because the Effexor was really helpful with my depression and anxiety
18817865 tn?1468367583
There's a useful article that I've been visiting for a couple of weeks now, it's got plenty of help and advice to you how to eliminate acne the natural way, Check out: http://www.jhsph.site/news/news-releases/2016/How-to-Stop-Acne-Forever
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