How to Stop the Bacteria That Accumulates in Acne Under the Skin
Acne is a widespread problem; as many as 50 million Americans struggle with the condition, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD. The precise cause of acne remains unknown, but AAD identifies four primary culprits that contribute to breakouts: clogged pores, oil called sebum, bacteria and inflammation. The bacteria involved in acne formation is known as P. acnes bacteria. Much of an acne control regimen revolves around limiting the presence of P. acnes on the skin. Success in this measure helps prevent and minimize acne breakouts.
Avoid touching your face or other acne-prone areas as much as possible. Your fingers can transport bacteria to your skin and spread existing P. acnes bacteria around, explains the Nemours Foundation. When you do need to touch your skin, wash your hands thoroughly first with soap and warm water.
Clean your face and acne-prone skin with warm water and soap two times a day. Opt for mild soaps designed for acne treatment.
Refrain from popping pimples. As the Nemours Foundation explains, doing so forces bacteria deeper under the skin. This can trigger or worsen acne breakouts and cause swelling and infections. Additionally, it increases the likelihood of acne scarring.
Apply a benzoyl peroxide-based cleanser to your face and other acne-prone areas in the morning and evening. These products, available over the counter or in stronger doses by prescription, are identified by MayoClinic.com as one of the single best acne treatments. Benzoyl peroxide's acne-fighting benefits are threefold; not only does it kill acne bacteria, it exfoliates dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores and it reduces sebum in the skin.
Talk to your dermatologist about prescription treatment options that kill P. acnes bacteria. There are topical antimicrobial agents besides benzoyl peroxide that are only available by prescription. Those commonly used for this purpose in the United States include clindamycin, erythromycin, sodium sulfacetamide and azelaic acid. These products may irritate or dry out the skin. Other options for fighting acne bacteria include regimens of oral antibiotics such as tetracycline and other drugs derived from it.
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