Common acne (aka “acne vulgaris”) is a skin condition characterized by what are often called pimples or zits. It can occur anywhere on the body and at any age, although it typically affects teenagers on the face and back. Acne breakouts often occur because of changes you’ve made to your daily routine. Maybe you’ve started using a different laundry detergent, shampoo, face cream or soap. These are often the biggest culprits of an acne breakout. It’s characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, and blemishes. The exact cause of acne is unknown. In general, there are two types of acne:
- Non-inflammatory acne, characterized by the presence of whiteheads and blackheads.
- Inflammatory acne, characterized by the presence of pimples, which may rupture to form inflammatory lesions that are raised, reddened areas on the skin.
There are a variety of factors that may contribute to or worsen acne. These factors can be classified as environmental, physical or emotional. Examples of these factors include:
- Oil-based cosmetic use.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Humidity or exposure to dirt.
- Premenstrual changes or hormonal changes.
- Physical irritation from occlusive clothing, headbands, hats, helmets, etc.
Tips for Preventing Acne:
- Keep your face clean. Whether or not you have acne, it’s important to wash your face twice daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and extra oil from your skin’s surface. Washing more often than twice daily is not necessarily better; it may do more harm than good. Use warm, not hot, water and a mild facial cleanser.
- Use special care in selecting a cleanser if your skin is dry or oily. Both extremes need special care.
- Dry skin needs face wash or soap that has a moisturizer.
- Oily skin does not usually need extra moisturizer – it may make acne worse. However, be careful not to go extremely drying. If your face feels tight after washing, the cleanser may be too extreme.
- Use makeup sparingly. During a breakout, avoid wearing foundation, powder, or blush. If you do wear makeup, wash it off at the end of the day. If possible, choose oil-free cosmetics without added dyes and chemicals.
- Moisturize after each face wash. Moisturizing your skin is just as important as washing it. When you wash your face, you strip it out of oils and moisture, causing your skin to produce more oil and sebum to compensate the dryness. Your skin needs moisture. Help it replenish that moisture by moisturizing after each wash.
- Exfoliate once a week. Exfoliating means gently wiping off the outer layer of the skin (called the epidermis) in order to help slough off dead skin and unclog pores. Whatever you do, don’t over-exfoliate. Exfoliating once a week is plenty.
- Remove all traces of makeup before going to bed. Never go to sleep with makeup on. If you wear makeup, get into the habit of removing it before you go to bed. It’s a hassle, for sure, but makeup that stays on your face can clog pores, leading to acne.
- Wash your pillowcases frequently. The oils on your pillowcases can cause acne by spreading dirt, grime, and dead skin. At the least, do it weekly.
- Watch what you put on your hair. Avoid using fragrances, oils, pomades, or gels on your hair. If they get on your face, they can block your skin’s pores and irritate your skin. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Oily hair can add to the oil on your face, so wash your hair often, especially if you’re breaking out. Got long hair? Keep it pulled away from your face.