Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting 85 percent of people between ages 12 and 24. It can cause painful, unsightly blemishes that affect self-esteem, social life and work performance. Acne causes a variety of symptoms from blackheads and whiteheads to cysts and nodules, which can become infected and scar. It can be hard to know how to prevent breakouts, but there are several strategies to try that may help. The exact cause of acne isn’t fully understood, but genetics and environmental factors clearly play a role.
Overproduction of oil, clogged pores and dead skin buildup can contribute to the condition. Certain foods, stress and some medications can also aggravate it. The most important step is finding a prevention strategy that works for you. If over-the-counter products don’t help, consult a doctor. They can prescribe special gels, creams and pills, or a combination of treatments, to clear the skin. Use a gentle cleanser twice daily, morning and evening, to remove excess oil. Avoid scrubbing, which can irritate the skin and cause more oil production. If you have sensitive skin, try cleansing wipes that have built-in moisturizer. Washing the area too frequently can irritate the skin and make it produce more oil, leading to more blemishes.
Avoid using astringents, facial scrubs or masks, as they can over-exfoliate and dry the skin, worsening acne. Don’t pick or squeeze blemishes, which can increase inflammation and cause scarring. Instead, apply a spot treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide or adapalene to dry excess oil and promote peeling of dead skin cells. Avoid physical exfoliation, such as scrubs that contain nuts, pits or shells, which can create tiny abrasions that irritate the skin and aggravate acne. Avoid greasy cosmetics and hairstyling products. Opt for water-based makeup, sun protection and hair care products that are labeled “water-based” or “noncomedogenic.”
Change your pillowcase at least once a week, as it collects oil, dirt and skin cells, which can block pores. Consider using a body mist that contains salicylic acid, such as Clarifying Bacne Spray, to purify and minimize future breakouts on other parts of the body. Eat a healthful diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C and beta-carotene. Avoid processed food and dairy, which can trigger or worsen acne. A low-sugar diet is also beneficial.