Did People Have Acne in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, people’s skin was highly regarded and seen as a reflection of their overall health and beauty. However, the question remains: Did people in Ancient Greece have to deal with acne, a common skin condition that affects many individuals today?

The Ideal of Beauty in Ancient Greece

In Ancient Greece, physical appearance held great importance, especially among the elite. The ideal of beauty emphasized smooth and flawless skin, which was often achieved through various skincare routines.

Skincare in Ancient Greece:

  • Ancient Greeks believed in the power of natural remedies, using ingredients like honey, olive oil, and milk to cleanse and moisturize their skin.
  • They also used exfoliants made from crushed seeds or sand to remove dead skin cells.
  • Sun protection was vital; individuals shielded their faces with hats or sought shade under parasols.

Evidence of Acne in Ancient Greece

While historical records do not explicitly mention acne, certain accounts suggest that people in Ancient Greece did experience skin issues similar to what we now recognize as acne.

Ancient Greek Writings:

  • The famous physician Hippocrates (460-370 BCE) described various skin conditions but did not specifically refer to acne by name.
  • However, he mentioned “comedones,” which are known today as blackheads – one of the primary symptoms of acne.

Understanding the Causes

To comprehend whether individuals in Ancient Greece had acne or not, it is essential to consider the factors that contribute to this common skin condition.

Possible Causes:

  • Hormonal changes: Acne is often associated with hormonal imbalances, which can occur during puberty or other life stages.
  • Diet and lifestyle: Certain foods and lifestyle choices, such as a high-sugar diet or inadequate skincare routines, can contribute to acne development.


While concrete evidence regarding acne in Ancient Greece is limited, it seems plausible that people during that time did experience skin issues similar to acne. However, without specific historical accounts or medical records, it is challenging to draw definitive conclusions.

Nonetheless, considering the emphasis on physical appearance and skincare practices in Ancient Greece, it is likely that individuals sought solutions for any skin imperfections they faced. Whether they had access to effective treatments comparable to modern-day solutions remains uncertain.

In conclusion, the presence of acne in Ancient Greece cannot be definitively proven. However, we can infer that people during that era were not immune to skin issues and likely took measures to maintain healthy-looking skin.