congested skin

What Is Congested Skin? The Symptoms, Causes, and Best Treatment Tips

Congested skin can be frustrating and unsightly. Thankfully, there are many easy and simple things you can do to treat it.
Updated: February 24, 2023
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We all want the best for our skin. However, there are so many conditions and small issues that we have to deal with on a constant basis that can be frustrating. One of these is skin congestion. But what is congested skin?

In this article, we’ll be laying out the causes, symptoms, and most importantly, how you can treat your congested skin effectively and easily. Don’t worry, congested skin is simple to deal with and can be soothed with basic home remedies.

Let’s get started.

What is congested skin?

First of all, let’s answer the umbrella question. Congested skin can be quite difficult to comprehensively define as symptoms can vary by quite a wide margin. However, the common and accepted definition of congested skin is skin that has built up a lot of oil, which has caused a lot of bumps, rough patches, and breakouts.

Generally speaking, congested skin is the result of dirt, dead cells, pollutants, excess oil, and other gunk getting trapped on the skin. When these things aren’t properly washed away, the skin reacts with breakouts and various forms of irritation.

What are the symptoms of congested skin?

If you think you may have congested skin, there are some very common symptoms that you can look out for.

Keep in mind that skin congestion overwhelmingly affects the face more than anywhere else. Your nose, t-zone, eyes, mouth, and forehead are most likely to display the following symptoms:

  • Dull complexion
  • Rough skin
  • Bumpy skin
  • Oiliness
  • Redness/ruddy skin
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Blemishes and other breakouts
  • Cystic acne

We understand that many other skin conditions can display similar symptoms, but if you are experiencing at least 3 of the above, you may have skin congestion.

Use your fingers to gently feel the surface of your skin. If it feels rough, bumpy, and oily, and has emerging blackheads or breakouts, you will know for sure whether you have congested skin.

Is skin congestion harmful?

Congested skin isn’t associated with any deeper serious medical issues. It’s a regular condition experienced by millions of people around the world and is completely normal.

However, if you are feeling stressed out and unhappy about the severity of your congested skin, you may want to contact your doctor for additional advice. While skin congestion isn’t a sign of a medical problem, it can crush your self-confidence and be detrimental to your mental health. It’s always best to face these thoughts head-on before they can grow.

The causes of congested skin

What exactly causes our skin to become congested? Like many skin conditions, there is a huge variety of potential triggers that can contribute to congestion.

Here are the most widely recognized causes of congested skin:

Excess oil production

Oiliness is a leading factor when it comes to dirt getting trapped in the skin. Oily skin is one of the main natural skin types that people have, and it can bring its own set of unique challenges. If your body is producing too much oil, or if you develop oily skin suddenly, dead cells, pollutants, and other much can get stuck on the skin’s surface, clog pores, and cause breakouts. All of this contributes to congested skin.

Lack of elasticity

One of the main components that keep our skin looking healthy and young is elasticity. This describes how flexible and fluid the skin is. Unfortunately, as we age, the elasticity in our skin naturally declines. When this occurs, our pores can become wider, which can then result in more dirt than usual becoming trapped inside them. You know the rest – blocked pores equal breakouts. Not great.


One of the most forgotten triggers of congested skin and other skin issues is our hormones. Our hormones are constantly in flux. When we’re teenagers, our hormones are going crazy, which is why so many young people suffer from acne and regular breakouts. Women especially are susceptible to hormonal changes. This can directly contribute to skin congestion.

Allergic reactions

Your skin may be congested due to an allergic reaction. Many people have certain allergies, sometimes without even being aware of them. Our skin, especially sensitive skin, can react in wild ways when exposed to something it doesn’t agree with. Maybe it’s a particular type of food or material, but more often than not it is because of a new skincare or cosmetic product containing problematic ingredients. Make sure to inspect the ingredient content on all of your products to determine if there’s something there that is affecting your skin.

Additionally, take special care and effort to ensure all of your skincare and cosmetic products haven’t reached their expiry dates.  Using expired products can cause harm to your skin.  Learn how to store your products effectively to give them more longevity.

How to treat congested skin at home

Now that we know the potential causes, it’s time to find some solutions. We have put together some simple yet effective home remedies that you can do today to treat your congested skin.

While the following methods may not work for everyone since we’re all different, we believe they are pretty darn good for most. This is a trial and error process, but if you’re consistent you should get beneficial results.


Exfoliators are the perfect solution when it comes to removing tough dirt and gunk. Also known as face scrubs, they contain thousands of tiny rock-like particles in their mixtures, which when rubbed over the face literally scrape away deep-seated dirt. Doing this a few times a week will drastically improve your skin’s complexion too, as there will be less muck to dull down your skin.

A word of warning however, if you have particularly dry or sensitive skin, exfoliators may be too harsh to be used more than a couple of times a week. Evaluate your skin’s condition and determine whether it is suitable for strong exfoliators.

Stay hydrated

One of the potential causes of congested skin is dehydration. Without sufficient moisture, our skin can dry up, develop rough patches, and suffer from breakouts. This is why staying hydrated is so essential. If you’re not drinking enough water every day, you should start. Right now. So many skin issues can be resolved or at least treated by simply consuming more water. Dullness, cracks, and sunken eyes are just a few issues that can be amplified by not drinking enough water.[1] Stay hydrated, and watch as your skin improves effortlessly.

Change your diet

As a species, we are the most unhealthy we have ever been in regard to our diet. Most of our food is highly processed and pumped with chemicals. This is done to enhance taste or to simply extend their longevity. A poor diet full of sugar and processed carbohydrates isn’t beneficial for our skin. If you’re guilty of enjoying one too many trips to the local fast food restaurant, maybe you should tweak your eating habits to include fresh and natural foods instead. This won’t only make your gut feel better, but will help to improve your skin too.

Use natural products

Congested skin may be a sign that you are using too many products that contain harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Sometimes, returning to basics can give your skin the healthy reset it needs. For example, if you’re using a mass-produced moisturizer product in your daily skincare routine, try swapping it out for aloe vera gel instead. Aloe vera contains amazing natural ingredients that can heal and soothe irritated and congested skin. It will truly help.

Use anti-aging products

As we age, our skin suffers. Our collagen production slows down, and we gradually lose the elasticity in our skin. These conditions can create the perfect environment for congested skin, so it’s important that we face it head-on.

Using proven anti-aging products and ingredients can be a way to treat congested skin. For example, using retinol can be a big help in healing congestion. Its unique properties help to stimulate collagen production, which then increases skin elasticity. This is extremely beneficial in the fight against skin congestion and other irritations. Be sure to learn how you can best care for mature skin as you age, and you will avoid a lot of these common problems.


Congested skin is a common but very frustrating and unsightly condition. The skin becomes bumpy, and dry, suffers from breakouts, and its natural oils trap too much dirt that ends up dulling its complexion. Thankfully, with a few home remedies and lifestyle adjustments, congested skin can become a thing of the past.

If you are suffering from severely congested skin and our advice isn’t working, you may want to contact a professional dermatologist for a more personalized evaluation.

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.