Acne is one of the most common skin problems in teens and young adults. Acne can occur anywhere on your body, but is most common on the face, shoulders, chest and back. The two key components of the acne-causing process are follicle plugging and infection. Treatments for acne address one or both of these components.
A whitehead is the result of a hair follicle becoming plugged with oil and skin cells. If the plug reaches the skin surface it can turn black resulting in a blackhead. The trapped oil and skin can become infected, aggravating inflammation. If the wall of the hair follicle breaks it can cause inflammation and swelling, resulting in a red bump known as a pimple. Acne can be made worse by stress, oil-based makeup, suntan oil and certain hair gels. Pimples can be more common prior to a woman’s menstrual period. Contrary to popular belief acne is not caused by dirt, fatty foods such as chocolate or French fries, or sexual activity (though vigorous rubbing, especially with clothes on, can cause inflammation of hair follicles known as folliculitis).
- Use only water-based, oil-free makeup (non-comedogenic)
- Use only oil-free sunscreens
- Avoid headbands, or hats that rub against your skin
- Learn ways to help manage stress
- Clean your face twice a day. Do not over scrub your skin or dry it out by using excessive amounts of strong soap. Wash with warm water and a mild soap or facial cleansers that are “oil-free”.
- Do not squeeze or pop your pimples. This can lead to infection or even scarring
- Non-prescription medication such as those that contain benzoyl peroxide can be very effective. Apply a thin layer to your skin at bedtime about a half hour after washing your face. It may cause redness, drying, and skin irritation. This is a normal reaction.
Seek medication attention if:
- Your acne does not improve in 2 months with home care
- You develop red, painful nodules under your skin (cystic acne)
- You develop scarring from your acne