Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or "zits." Whiteheads (closed comedomes), blackheads (open comdedomes), and red, inflamed papules of skin (such as cysts) may develop. These most often occur on the face or shoulders.
Acne occurs when tiny holes on the surface of the skin become clogged. These holes are called pores. The pores can become clogged by substances on the surface of the skin or when the skin itself produces "plugs." Acne is most common in teenagers. But anyone can get acne.
Acne breakouts can be triggered by:
- Hormonal changes
- Use of oily skin or hair care products
- Certain medicines
Daily Skin Care
To keep your pores from clogging and your skin from becoming too oily:
- Clean your skin gently with a mild, non-drying soap, such as Dove, Neutrogena, Cetaphil, or CeraVe.
- It may help to use a wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl if your skin is oily and prone to acne. Remove all dirt or make-up.
- Wash once or twice a day, and also after exercising. Avoid scrubbing or repeated skin washing.
- Shampoo your hair daily, especially if it is oily.
- Comb or pull your hair back to keep the hair out of your face.
- Avoid using rubbing alcohol or toners that are very drying to the skin.
Acne medicines can cause skin drying or peeling. Use a moisturizer or skin cream that is water-based or "noncomedogenic" or that clearly states that is safe to use on the face and will not cause acne.
A small amount of sun exposure may improve acne slightly. But tanning mostly hides it. Too much exposure to sun or in tanning booths increases the risk for skin cancer. Some acne medicines can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Use sunscreen and hats regularly if you are taking these medicines.
There is no evidence that you need to avoid chocolate, milk, or high-fat foods. High sugar intake may need to worsening acne. Avoid any of these foods if you find eating these foods seems to make your acne worse.
To further prevent acne:
- DO NOT squeeze, scratch, pick, or rub pimples. This can lead to skin infections and scarring.
- Avoid wearing tight headbands, baseball caps, and other hats.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Avoid greasy cosmetics or creams.
- DO NOT leave make-up on overnight.