How to Clear Mild Acne
Even mild acne can cause enough whiteheads, blackheads and redness on your face or shoulders to add unwanted stress to your day. Fortunately, many products exist that can help prevent, treat or reduce the frequency of acne flare-ups. Finding an over-the-counter topical medication that works for you may take some trial and error. However, using an effective product regularly and following a few guidelines for acne-prone skin can help clear mild outbreaks.
Wash your face with gentle cleanser and warm water twice daily and after activity that causes excessive sweating. Dermatologists recommend you avoid using facial scrubs, rough pads or strong astringents on your skin, according to the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, or NIAMS. These products can irritate the skin and worsen, rather than clear, existing acne. Rinse your face thoroughly after washing. Avoid using harsh soaps for acne on the back, shoulders and other body areas as well. Don't wash your face many times a day, as this can dry it out and cause your skin to produce more oil.
Stop picking at your lesions. Squeezing whiteheads and blackheads can cause scarring and hyperpigmentation, or reddish blotches on your skin. Even touching or rubbing acne lesions can transfer oils and bacteria to clear skin, which may cause new acne lesions to form. Try to avoid shaving during a flare up if possible, to avoid nicking or irritating blemishes.
Eat a healthy diet but forget the myth that chocolate, nuts or greasy, fried foods cause acne. Dermatologists do blame some acne outbreaks on excessive oil production, controlled by your sebaceous glands, and subsequent bacterial buildup. But they believe fluctuating hormones and genetics, not what you eat, cause the excess, according to NIAMS.
Apply acne products as directed. Several over-the-counter topical medicines can help clear mild acne, but they often take four to eight weeks of regular use to produce any results. Using these products sporadically often decreases or eliminates their effectiveness. AcneNet reports that skin care specialists typically suggest over-the-counter products that include benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for mild acne.
Read the label and take note of any warnings or potential side effects. Many products can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and result in severe sunburns after only a few minutes of exposure. Some topical medications cause mild irritation or even seem to worsen acne with initial application. If you develop a rash, excessive dryness or other irritation that does not decrease as expected, stop using the medication.
Continue your skin care regimen even after your acne has cleared. Unfortunately, your acne outbreaks will likely continue to come and go, especially during adolescence and young adulthood. Many topical acne medicines require ongoing use to maintain their effects. Other ways to help lessen the frequency or severity of acne include shampooing your hair regularly, even daily, to keep the natural oils in your hair from building up on your skin. Choose oil-free or noncomedogenic foundation, blush and other cosmetics.
Ask your doctor for help if you feel your acne is not responding well enough to your efforts. While there is no "cure" for acne, dermatologists and other healthcare professionals can recommend prescription treatments in combination with over-the-counter therapy or make changes in your skin care regimen that might help lessen acne.
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