Tricks to Clear Acne
There's not too much mystery behind what causes persistent or infrequent bouts of acne, says skincare guru Paula Begoun, author of "The Original Beauty Bible." First, hormones cause your pores to produce excess oil. Then dead skin cells combine with oil to form a plug. Add bacteria into the mix, and you have optimal conditions for a pimple to form. Simple tips and tricks can help you clear up your skin. However, patience is required, because acne won't go away overnight.
If your cleanser tingles and stings, that's a bad sign, Begoun says. This is an indication that the product is irritating your skin, hindering the healing process and encouraging more acne. Choose a mild, oil-free cleanser, advises the American Academy of Dermatology. Wash your face and other parts of the body affected by acne twice a day using only your fingertips or hands. Avoid using a coarse washcloth or face pad; these irritate your oil glands into producing more oil.
Cleansing twice a day is generally good enough, notes the AAD, unless you've worked up a sweat, in which case it's appropriate to wash again as soon as you can. Being gentle to your skin also means avoiding the temptation to pop or squeeze blemishes---this can cause scarring, explains the AAD, as well as an even deeper infection.
Use the Right Stuff
Over-the-counter acne medications may be sufficient if your acne is mild, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, reading labels is important, as certain acne-fighting medications are known to work better than others. The ingredient that gives you the best across-the-board treatment is benzoyl peroxide, although others may work just as well, such as salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids and sulfur, notes the clinic.
Start with a benzoyl peroxide-based medication, advises the clinic, and look for one with a low concentration, as acne treatments can be dry and irritating. Nonprescription acne medications contain between 2.5 and 10 percent benzoyl peroxide. The AAD states that acne medications should be applied to clean skin only. Don't resort to spot treatment---apply the medication to all areas of the skin that are prone to acne.
Forget the myth that acne is caused by something you ate. According to the AAD, numerous studies have been conducted and none showed a direct connection between acne and diet. However, if you think that pepperoni pizza and soda pop is the cause of your breakouts, it won't hurt to cut down. Eating a balanced diet and cutting down on junk food is always sensible. The AAD also explains that if you're treating your acne properly, what you eat won't make too much of a difference.
Go Oil Free
The next time you're at the cosmetics counter, make sure the makeup and skin care products you select are oil free. You may also see these labeled as "noncomedogenic" or "won't clog pores." If your hair is oily, shampoo it daily, as the oil from your hair can also cause clogged pores, cautions the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
As for the oil on your face, Begoun says this poses a more difficult challenge, as no topical treatment will stop your pores from secreting sebum. Rather than using irritating clay masks, she suggests using a milder mask of milk of magnesia---magnesium hydroxide---to absorb excess oil. You can use this mask every day or once a week, she says.
Patience and Persistence
There's no acne medication on the market that will make pimples go away in a single day---or even a week. The AAD stresses the importance of sticking with your acne treatment plan, as you might not start to see results for anywhere between four and 12 weeks. Use all products as the label directs you too---not too much or too little. If acne still doesn't resolve with at-home care and over-the-counter medications, the AAD advises seeing a dermatologist---a medical doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the skin.
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