NO, excessive masturbation will not cause acne, nor will any amount of masturbation. Your body doesn't know the difference between "Self inflicted sexual activity" and sex with another (or few other) partner(s).
From the acne.org site that disprove it in its myth section:
This antiquated notion, originating as early as the 17th century to dissuade young people from having premarital sex, is not based on scientific evidence. A more plausible explanation may be that higher levels of androgens (male sex hormones) can cause increased sex drive. We also know that high levels of androgens can be related to more severe cases of acne. So it may be the higher androgen levels and not the associated increase in desire for sexual activity that is related to acne.
From the Planed Parenthood site, from its myth and facts about masturbation section:
The myth is that too much masturbation will make you blind, crazy, or stupid, damage your sex organs, or stunt your growth. Some people masturbate every day — or even more than once a day. That's fine. So is there such a thing as "too much" masturbation? According to the experts (the American Psychiatric Association), it's only when masturbation gets in the way of daily activities — like going to school or work, or meeting friends — that it would be considered "too much." And not many people have that problem.
Also, some people worry that masturbating frequently will affect a girl's ability to get pregnant or a guy's ability to produce sperm. It doesn't.
Some people masturbate daily or more than once a day, some people masturbate once in a while, and some people never masturbate
Here are few expalnations for corolation that may be absorved between maturbation and acne.
Clarification: for most cases here I (as well as the sources) will regard "acne" as a full blown severe case covering substantial areas of skin and not the occasional lonely zit.
a. At first, look to your left and right. Do you see adult men and women? Do they have faces full of acne? Most adult people masturbate, or have sexual intercourse. But they don't (most of them) have faces full of acne. If masturbation would cause acne, most of the adult population of the earth would have a "pizza face".
from the Planed Parenthood site:
Masturbation is very common. Studies show that about 7 out of 10 adult men and more than 5 out of 10 adult women masturbate. It’s also common for children and teens to masturbate.
Adult acne affects 25% of all adult men and 50% of adult women at some time in their adult lives
So while 70% of male masturbate (and more have active sexual life ,i.e. masturbate, have sex or both), only 25% have acne. The numbers for women are closer, but only if you consider women that masturbate, not if you consider that have active sexual life. There is no correlation between the two, and while correlation doesn't mean causation, causation does require correlation.
And another thing is that while acne is treatable, and for most people will stop appearing after treatment, sexual activity will not stop. Relation between sexual activity and acne would require acne to not be a phase for most afflicted but an almost permanent state.
b. For this question I've asked 2 doctors (although none of them is a dermatologist) and they both gave a negative answer, as well as repeated the fallowing explanations:
c. There is a "second hand" way masturbation/sex could "cause" acne which is excessive sweating during the act would open your skin pours to get dirt inside them, but will not generate enough sweat to clean the dirt (like in a prolonged aerobic exercise like jogging, cycling etc.), causing the dirt to stay in after the act, increasing inflammation. Since the actual act of sex is longer and takes more effort, this "phenomena" will be caused more likely during short burst of masturbation or early ejaculation during sex and less in a "full" act of intercourse.
d. Another aspect is hormonal changes which cause acne (look at all those teenagers with their faces resembling the face of the moon). Having active sexual life or not doesn't affect permanent hormonal status, unless we are talking about pregnancy, menopause or some kind of castration. Orgasm may lead to release of the hormone oxytocin and other endorphins , but it's not related to acne, nor is a permanent state (orgasm lasts for a few seconds in males to several dozens seconds in female), and the higher levels will disappear after a short while (once the post coitus euphoria is gone, the hormones are gone as well). Your reproductive system functions the same way weather you have sexual activity or not (masturbation counts as well), the testicles will produce the same amount of sperm, and the woman's menstrual cycle will continue, unless she uses the pill or other hormone related birth control, which do alter the hormone levels of the body and influence acne, in fact I've known several women that used the pill long before being sexually active to help fight and reduce acne.
The hormones that do affect acne (from here):
A bevy of hormones can cause acne to form. Hormones responsible for acne include testosterone (an androgen), anabolic steroids, gonadotropins, corticosteroids and ACTH. Stress increases circulating glucocorticosteroids and should be factored into the hormone driven flare-up.
The affect of oxytocin from the oxytocin Wikipedia page:
Sexual arousal, Bonding, Maternal behavior, Preparing fetal neurons for delivery, MDMA (ecstasy) and
According to some studies in animals, oxytocin inhibits the development of tolerance to various addictive drugs (opiates, cocaine, alcohol) and reduces withdrawal symptoms.
Endorphins are a group of substances formed within the body that naturally relieve pain. They have a similar chemical structure to morphine. In addition to their analgesic, or pain-relieving, effect, endorphins are thought to be involved in controlling the body's response to stress, regulating contractions of the intestinal wall, and determining mood. They may also regulate the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, notably growth hormone and the gonadotropin hormones
Some researchers have learned that strenuous exercise releases endorphins into the blood stream. Others have found that endorphins are released during orgasm, as well as during laughter. Endorphin release may occur with frequent sex and masturbation
e. Finally, there is a correlation between sexual activity and acne, but it's related to testosterone and other male sex hormones levels. More testosterone leads to more acne and higher sex drive, so that people who are more prone to acne, are also more inclined to masturbate more often and have more sex (the irony of nature, the people who want sex more, get acne which prevents it). The correlation can be found between bold men and masturbation as high levels of testosterone cause boldness at a younger age, not because masturbation causes boldness. Not sure if this affects women, but still holds for men.
The relation of testosterone and acne:
Most dermatologists believe acne is closely linked with hormonal changes that occur within the body. In fact, testosterone has been identified as a chief trigger of acne development. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, testosterone works to stimulate oil gland activity, creating an oilier skin more prone to acne breakouts.
Sources for this have also been:
The Wikipedia article for masturbation
One of Wikipedia's sited sources
And as I've said before talking to 2 doctors (non dermatologists) which answered the same.
In an unrelated manner to the specific question and acne, but still related to masturbation I think that it's worth noting that they may be some negative side affects to masturbation.
If a person was raised in a religious environment where masturbation was considered bad he or she may fill shame and guilt. A physiological result may be unwanted familiarity that may cause problems with reaching climax in intercourse, but is reversible if you hold off for few days. Also if a couple is trying to get pregnant the man should hold off from masturbation on the days before the woman's ovulation and only have sex (once a day or every other day) as it reduces the sperm count and will reduce the chance of successful fertilization, see here and here.
You can read more about the negative affects of masturbation here
Obviously this is not acne related, and comes as extra information on the subject of masturbation.
- The subject of this question is masturbation and acne which is funny, so I allowed myself to incorporate a few jokes in the answer that I find to be funny. There is no intention to insult anyone and I apologize in advance if anyone is offended, or just plane not entertained by them.