Tackle acne before it affects your confidence.
Few things can rock your confidence as quickly as a new pimple. Teenagers are most often affected, as those notorious adolescent hormones can stir up turmoil everywhere, even on the surface of the skin, but this skin condition can occur at any age. Understanding how to prevent acne is an essential step toward clear, healthy skin, no matter how old you are.
Acne develops when your oil glands kick into overdrive. Extra oil on the skin's surface can bind to bacteria or dead skin cells, creating a kind of plug that blocks your pores. These blockages can trigger inflammation and cause lesions on your skin, which often look red and may be filled with pus. Hormones also often play a part in the development of acne—for example, the condition is common in women when their menstrual period is due, when they start or stop birth control pills, and during pregnancy, and hormonal changes are also one of the causes of acne in teenage boys.
These blemishes can take a real toll on self-esteem, but there are many ways to tackle them. Read more to learn how to prevent acne. If these steps don't help, or if your acne is severe, make an appointment with a dermatologist.
Keep Stress Under Control
While stress doesn't cause acne, it can make the condition worse.
Here are some tips for reducing stress:
- Get regular physical exercise.
- Prioritize a good night's sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults aged 18 to 64 aim for seven to nine hours each night.
- Make time for relaxation practices, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature.
- Talk with trusted friends and family.
Clean Up Breakouts
Extra dirt, oil, and friction on your skin can increase your risk of clogged pores and pimples. To help reduce your risk of developing clogged pores, it's important to cleanse your face in the morning and before bed. While it might be tempting to get your face squeaky clean, washing your face multiple times each day and using harsh cleansers can actually cause a breakout. For clean, hydrated skin, opt for a gentle cleanser that contains salicylic acid, such as Receutics Active Skin Repair Cleanser. Follow up with a moisturizer that's specifically formulated to control oil and prevent blemishes, such as Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solution Lotion, which contains skin-soothing witch hazel and lemongrass.
Oil and dirt from your hands and hair can also contribute to clogged pores, so try to avoid touching your face. If you're prone to acne, consider hairstyles that keep your hair away from your face, and shampoo daily with a product such as Nexxus Hydra-Light Shampoo, which is designed to be gentle enough for daily use.
Nothing may seem quite as inviting as climbing into bed after a hectic day, but nighttime cleansing is an important step. With convenient products such as Aveeno Active Naturals Ultra-Calming Makeup Removing Wipes, you can banish acne-causing dirt and oil in seconds. Bonus: Aveeno's cleansing wipes are ophthalmologist tested, so they won't irritate your eyes, and they've been specially formulated to balance and soothe sensitive skin.
Your Makeup Matters
When you're battling breakouts, concealer and foundation can help you save face. Look for labels that read "oil-free," "water-based," or "noncomedogenic," which just means that the products won't clog your pores. Cutting-edge products, such as Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Foundation, can give you a flawless finish while working overtime to treat pimples.
If you need a little extra help from your concealer, consider going green. The green pigment in products such as the Maybelline NY Cover Stick Concealer and Corrector in Green helps neutralize redness, and Maybelline's dermatologically tested product is also waterproof and easy to blend. Simply dot the concealer on any blemishes or areas of redness, blend with your fingertips, and watch pesky pimples disappear.
Get Extra Help
Over-the-counter medications can also help manage acne. Most work by targeting at least one acne culprit: oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria.
Look for products that contain one of the following active ingredients:
- Benzoyl peroxide combats acne-causing bacteria. Try Receutics Active Skin Repair Breakout Treatment.
- Resorcinol and sulfur help break down blackheads and whiteheads. Look for Adult Acnomel, which contains both ingredients.
- Salicylic acid also targets blackheads and whiteheads, while causing the top layer of your skin to peel. Try Clearasil Ultra Vanishing Cream for spot treatments.
Innovative devices that use light therapy to target acne are also now available over the counter. These hand-held products, like the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask, help eliminate bacteria, reduce inflammation, and help skin heal.
Over-the-counter acne medications may cause side effects at first, including redness, dryness, and scaling. These symptoms often improve within a month of using them.
If any side effects don't improve or are too uncomfortable, consider trying a natural acne remedy. Though more research is needed, there is some scientific evidence that suggests gels containing five percent tea tree oil may be as effective as medications that contain five percent benzoyl peroxide, according to Mayo Clinic, although tea tree oil may take more time to improve acne compared to benzoyl peroxide. If you're looking to treat blemishes naturally, try Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick.
If you're unsure which treatments are right for you, ask your Rite Aid Pharmacist for recommendations and for help finding the best acne products in your local store
By Nancy Burtis Boudreau
Mayo Clinic, Acne
American Psychological Association, Teens and Stress: How to Keep Stress in Check
Mayo Clinic, Stress Relief
National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Duration Recommendations