Does taking an aspirin daily affect your skin?

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Daily aspirin therapy can be beneficial for certain types of people. Because of its anti-clotting properties, a daily aspirin is believed to help prevent stroke and heart attacks while reducing the risk for heart disease [source: Mayo Clinic]. As with any medicine, however, it can have side effects. One you might not have thought about is how it affects your skin.

One of the most common skin-related side effects of extended aspirin use is bruising. Bruises are caused when capillaries are damaged and allow blood to leak visibly underneath the skin. Because aspirin is a blood thinner, it can keep the blood vessels from healing as quickly as they normally would [source: Mayo Clinic]. This effect should not affect you much and might not necessarily be a reason for you to stop your aspirin treatment.


However, sometimes taking aspirin in combination with other chemicals can be connected to more severe skin reactions, such as cold, clammy, red, swollen or blistered skin [source: Drugs]. If this happens, or if the bruises or discolorations become severe, consult your doctor immediately. These can signal more dangerous reactions that require immediate treatment.

One potentially positive effect, some researchers say, might be the ability to fight skin cancer. Animal studies have revealed that aspirin might stunt development of some types of skin cancer. Also, an Australian study published in 2005 found that people who took aspirin daily on a long-term basis were less likely to have certain types of skin cancers than those who did not [source: Butler]. However, those conclusions have yet to be definitively proven in humans without more research.

For the most part, daily aspirin therapy probably won't affect your skin too much. If you do experience side effects, know that they will often increase with a higher dose, so if it's safe to drop to a lower dose, they may disappear. As always, you should talk to your doctor before beginning or changing daily aspirin therapy. If the side effects bother you, there might be a better alternative. However, if the potential benefits of taking aspirin regularly outweigh the risks, it might be worth some skin discoloration or bruising in order to have the heart-healthy benefits.

To learn more, check out the links on the next page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Drugs. "Aspirin Side Effects." (Accessed 7/27/09)
  • Butler, Gregory J., Rachel Neale, Adele C. Green, Nirmala Pandeya and David C. Whiteman. "Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the risk of actinic keratoses and squamous cell cancers of the skin." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. May, 11, 2005. (Accessed 08/14/2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Daily aspirin therapy: Understand the benefits and risks." (Accessed 7/27/09)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Easy Bruising: Common As You Age." (Accessed 8/14/2009)