9 Acne Prevention & Treatment Tips
Blackheads, whiteheads, pimples… acne comes in many forms, and when it pops up on your face, it’s usually a cause of great anxiety. If you’re struggling with acne, we at Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery are here to let you know you’re not alone. The American Academy of Dermatology notes acne as the single most common skin condition in the United States, affecting more than 50 million Americans.
Acne is a chronic inflammatory condition that most people associate with adolescents and teenagers. But while it’s true that roughly 85 percent of people struggling with persistent acne are between the ages of 12 and 24, the reality is that acne can affect people of any age. Fortunately, there are a number of simple preventative measures that can be taken to help avoid acne, and a variety of treatment options to help get rid of even the most stubborn of chronic cases.
Here are nine tried-and-true acne prevention and treatment tips:
1. Embrace the Shade
Sun overexposure can be extremely damaging to the skin. You’re no doubt aware of the skin cancer risks associated with ultraviolet sunray exposure, but you might be surprised to hear that too much sun can cause acne.
Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun during the hottest hours of the day (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) and make sure to apply plenty of SPF 30 sunscreen when you go outside. If spending long hours outdoors is unavoidable, make sure to cover up with protective clothing and wear a hat.
2. DIY Skin Cleanser
If you’re struggling with acne, there are a couple things you can try at home before setting up an appointment with the dermatologist. Get a salicylic acid cleanser to use on the affected area and follow it with a benzoyl peroxide leave-on product to help dry the skin. Ask at your local pharmacy for these products. There are a variety of over-the-counter options to choose from.
Caution: The FDA has warned that use of these products can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Be sure to test out a small amount before you apply liberally on the affected area. If you have any sort of reaction, discontinue home use immediately.
3. Use Moisturizer
Many acne treatments and cleansers dry out the skin, so it’s important that you combat excess dryness by using a noncomedogenic moisturizer that can help protect the skin. Ask your dermatologist for a recommendation if you’re unsure exactly what type of product to look for.
4. Exercise and Eat Right
Preventing acne can be as simple as getting in some regularly scheduled exercise and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
Studies have shown that daily exercise can have a positive effect on skin health (and general health). Be sure to clean your skin immediately after exercise.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and try and avoid eating too much food high in grease, fat or processed sugar. Contrary to popular myth, eating chocolate isn’t going to make you break out. However, dairy products can serve as an acne trigger for some people.
5. Be Careful with Your Makeup
Another easy way to minimize an acne breakout is by limiting the amount of makeup you use, and be sure to wash your face thoroughly at the end of the day to make sure there is no residue that can clog your pores. In general, you should try to avoid oily makeups that contain dyes, and those that aren’t labeled noncomedogenic.
6. Hands Off
When you touch your face, you run the risk of passing bacteria to the sensitive facial skin. This is particularly true for people that “treat” pimples by popping them with their fingers. Although this might seem like an effective short-term solution, it can also lead to irritation and scarring. If you are experiencing an acne breakout, you can further irritate the skin by touching it with your hands. Do your best to avoid contact as much as possible at all times.
7. Avoid Stress
When it comes to health in general, stress is typically a bad thing. It can increase blood pressure, cause anxiety and depression, interfere with sleep patterns and more. Studies have also linked stress with an increased risk of acne breakouts. Speak with your doctor about stress management and consider things like meditation, yoga or even intensifying your daily workout regimen to combat the effects and protect your wellbeing.
8. Schedule a Visit with a Dermatologist
The best way to protect yourself against acne breakouts or seek treatment is to discuss your options with a qualified dermatologist. Each person's needs differ, so there is no one magic bullet when it comes to preventing or treating acne. A dermatologist can work with you to develop a custom strategy for protecting the health of your unique skin, or combatting severe acne breakouts.
9. Consider Your Rx Options
If you’re dealing with severe, chronic bouts of acne and nothing else seems to work, there are a number of Rx solutions that may help. Drugs like Roaccutane (formerly Accutane) and Claravis are isotretinoins that can help combat acne. You may also benefit from a cortisone or steroid shot if you’re dealing with acne cysts or if you’re looking to get rid of an unsightly blemish before a major event (like a wedding).
The quicker you can combat severe acne breakouts, the better your chances of avoiding scarring.
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