Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States.
There are, however, many myths about acne and it's treatment. One myth is that acne must run it's course. There are now many effective treatments available and essentially all acne can be significantly improved with treatment. Without treatment, dark spots and permanent scars can develop. Clearer skin also often leads to a boost in self esteem.
Another myth is that acne is limited to teenage life, and is something you "grow out of". The number of adults with acne is growing, and it may persist into the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Today, virtually every case of acne can be successfully treated.
Dermatologists can help treat existing acne, prevent new breakouts and reduce your chance of developing scars. Before getting treatment for acne scars, it is important to clear your acne. New acne breakouts can lead to new acne scars. Having acne also means that your skin is inflamed. Inflammation reduces the effectiveness of treatment for acne scars. If you have questions or concerns about caring for your skin, please contact us for an appointment!
You can try to avoid or control mild acne with nonprescription products, good basic skin care and other self-care techniques:
Wash problem areas with a gentle cleanser. Once to twice a day, use your fingertips to wash your face with a mild soap (or soapless cleanser) and warm water. If you tend to develop acne around your hairline, shampoo your hair every day. Avoid certain products, such as facial scrubs, astringents and masks, because they tend to irritate skin, which can worsen acne. Excessive washing and scrubbing also can irritate skin.
- Avoid irritants. You may want to avoid oily or greasy cosmetics, sunscreens, hairstyling products or acne concealers. Use products labeled water-based or noncomedogenic, which means they are less likely to cause acne.
- Use an oil-free moisturizer with sunscreen. For some people, the sun worsens acne. And some acne medications make you more susceptible to the sun's rays. Check with your doctor to see if your medication is one of these. If it is, stay out of the sun as much as possible. Regularly use a nonoily (noncomedogenic) moisturizer that includes a sunscreen.
- Watch what touches your skin. Keep your hair clean and off your face. Also avoid resting your hands or objects, such as telephone receivers, on your face. Tight clothing or hats also can pose a problem, especially if you're sweating. Sweat and oils can contribute to acne.
- Let your skin heal naturally. If you pick, pop or squeeze your acne, your skin will take longer to clear and you increase the risk of getting acne scars.
- Stay out of the sun and tanning beds. Tanning damages you skin. In addition, some acne medications make the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, which you get from both the sun and indoor tanning devices.
- Using tanning beds increases your risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent.
These factors have little effect on acne:
- Greasy foods. Eating greasy food has little to no effect on acne. Though working in a greasy area, such as a kitchen with fry vats, does because the oil can stick to the skin and block the hair follicles. This further irritates the skin or promotes acne.
- Dirty skin. Acne isn't caused by dirt. In fact, scrubbing the skin too hard or cleansing with harsh soaps or chemicals irritates the skin and can make acne worse. Though it does help to gently remove oil, dead skin and other substances.
- Cosmetics. Cosmetics don't necessarily worsen acne, especially if you use oil-free makeup that doesn't clog pores (noncomedogenics) and remove makeup regularly. Nonoily cosmetics don't interfere with the effectiveness of acne drugs.