One of the most common misconceptions about acne is that it's caused by dirt. It's not! Acne is caused by a combination of factors you can't control, like your hormone balance and the natural pace of your skin's renewal system. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can control that may help you keep your acne in check. Begin by following these simple suggestions for healthy-skin hygiene.
Acne Prevention - Tip #1: Don't over-wash. Since dirt is not causing your acne, excessive scrubbing and washing won't make it go away. Try to limit yourself to two washings per day — anything more than that can leave your healthy skin dry, and your acne-prone areas irritated. Habitual over-washing may also stimulate extra oil production, which could result in more breakouts.
Acne Prevention - Tip #2: Skip harsh scrubs. It's okay to exfoliate, but be sure to use a gentle formula with small, smooth grains. Avoid products with almond or apricot shell fragments; they can irritate or even tear your skin and further aggravate your acne.
Acne Prevention - Tip #3: Say no to alcohol. If you use a toner, avoid products with high concentrations of isopropyl alcohol, or common rubbing alcohol. A strong astringent, alcohol strips the top layer of your skin, causing your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. The result? Dry, red skin — and possibly more blemishes.
Acne Prevention - Tip #4: Don't squeeze or pick. Squeezing or picking your blemishes — with fingernails, pins or anything else — can force bacteria deeper into the skin, causing greater inflammation and infection. You'll also increase the damage to the surrounding skin, so the blemish is more likely to leave a permanent acne scar.
Acne Prevention - Tip #5: Hands off! Propionibacterium acnes (the bacteria that causes breakouts) is a normal resident of your skin; it doesn't lead to acne until it gets trapped inside the hair follicle. Excessive touching of your face, including rubbing or even resting your chin in your hands, can drive bacteria into your pores — where it can begin its dirtywork.
Acne Prevention - Tip #6: Work out, wash off. When you exercise, your movement generates heat; clothing and equipment cause friction. Until you shower off, heat and moisture are trapped against your skin, creating an ideal breeding ground for the spread of bacteria. So whenever you can, shower off immediately after exercising.
Acne Prevention Treatment - Find a regimen and stick with it. Most cases of mild acne can be improved with "over-the-counter" products, or products that don't require a prescription from your doctor. There is a wide range of treatments available, and there's a good chance one of them will work for you. If you start treatment before your acne gets severe, you'll have a better chance of avoiding physical and emotional problems down the road. But if your acne gets worse or lasts more than a couple of weeks, see a dermatologist. Here's a quick listing of the most common products used to treat acne — click on the links that interest you for more information on that course of acne treatment.
• Benzoyl Peroxide: Kills the bacteria that causes acne.
• Proactiv® Solution: A dermatologist formulated Combination Therapy® acne management system. Click Here and receive 2 free bonuses when you try Proactiv® Solution Risk-Free for 60 Days!
• Salicylic Acid: Unclogs your pores and encourages skin renewal.
• Tretinoin (Retin-A®): Promotes healthy sloughing.
• Antibiotics: Kill bacteria and reduces inflammation.
• Oral Contraceptives: Help regulate hormone levels.
• Anti-Androgens: Inhibit the body's production of acne-causing hormones.
• Isotretinoin (Accutane®): Treatment for severe cystic or nodular acne.
There are a number of prescription medications known to cause acne. If you routinely take any of the following drugs (or drugs like them) and have problems with acne breakouts, you may want to consult your physician to discuss an alternative treatment with fewer side affects. But try to keep it in perspective, your health comes first!
Anticonvulsants (like Dilantin) are prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy and other kinds of seizures. Most medications in this family list acne as a common side-effect.
Corticosteroids (like Prednisone) are often used to treat asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Like cortisol, a natural steroid produced by the body during times of intense stress, corticosteroids can stimulate sebum production and lead to blemishes.
Disulfuram (or Antabuse) is prescribed to help chronic alcoholic patients who want to remain in a state of enforced sobriety. When mixed with alcohol, this drug causes a range of unpleasant symptoms intended to discourage further mixing. Unfortunately, regular use of Disulfuram (even when not drinking) can cause acne in some patients.
Immuran. Like other immunosuppressants, Immuran is used to suppress the immune system in patients awaiting an organ transplant. It can help prevent organ rejection; it can also suppress your body's natural ability to fight the bacteria that cause acne.
INH (or Isoniazid) is typically used to treat tuberculosis, or TB. Thought to be largely eradicated, TB experienced a resurgence in the late 1980s among the homeless population and in patients suffering from AIDS. It continues to be a problem today.
Quinine is prescribed as a precaution against — or treatment for — malaria. If you're traveling to a part of the world where malaria is a risk, be sure to ask your doctor about alternative solutions.
Thyroid preparations. Some thyroid medications (such as Thiourea and Thiouracil) are known to trigger acne. These preparations are used to stimulate the thyroid gland in patients with low thyroid function. Large amounts of iodine, which also helps to regulate thyroid function, can also cause breakouts.
Kerwin Chang writes for http://www.acnestuff.net where you can find out more about acne and other skin care topics.