How to prevent acne?

By Jemaa El Bahraoui

Acne is a common skin condition affecting about 9.4% of the global population. Acne usually begins in puberty, and it affects almost 90% of teenagers. Acne is not restricted to any age group, in fact it affects 20% of adults until around the ages of 25. 

If you are suffering from acne, then preventing it may be the best solution instead of trying to cure it once it appears. In this article, I will share ten ways or tips to prevent acne. 

The first tip is to keep your face clean whether or not you have acne. It’s important to wash your face twice daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and extra oil from your skin surface. Washing more than twice daily is not necessarily better; it may do more harm than good. Use warm, not hot water and a mild facial cleanser. Using a harsh soap like deodorant body soap can hurt already inflamed skin and cause more irritation. It’s better to avoid scrubbing your skin harshly with a washcloth, an exfoliating glove, or loofah (a coarse textured sponge). Rather, gently wash it with a very soft cloth, or your hands. Rinse well and dry your face with a clean towel. Try to change your towels frequently, as dirty towels spread bacteria. Also, only use the washcloth once. 

 My second recommendation is to moisturize. Many acne products contain ingredients that dry the skin, so it is advised to always use a moisturizer that minimizes dryness and skin peeling. Look for non-comedogenic on the label which means it should not cause acne. There are moisturizers made for oily, dry, or combination skin. 

The third recommendation is to try an over-the-counter acne product. These acne products don’t need a prescription. Most of them have ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid which curb bacteria and dry your skin. They may cause drying or peeling so, start with a small amount at first. Then you can adjust how much you use and how often. Another option is a new OTC topical retinoid gel (differin 0.1% gel). It works to keep the acne from forming. Use these products with caution if you have sensitive skin. 

 Recommendation n°4 is to use makeup sparingly. During a breakout, wearing foundation, powder, or blush can exacerbate the acne. If you do wear makeup, wash it off at the end of the day. If possible, choose oil free cosmetics without added dyes and chemicals. Also, make sure to use makeup that is labeled as non-comedogenic, meaning it should not cause acne. Ingredients lists on the product label should provide you with the necessary information. 

Fifth recommendation is to be careful about the products you use in your hair. Having fragrances, oils, pomades, or gels in your hair can be risky, especially if you have sensitive skin. If they get on your face, they can block your skin’s pores and irritate your skin. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner and minimize extra products. Oily hair can add to the oil on your face. Wash your hair often especially if you’re breaking out. If you have long hair, keep it pulled away from your face. 

 My sixth recommendation is to, quite literally, keep your hands off your face. Avoid touching or propping your cheek or chin on your hands. Not only can you spread bacteria, but you can also irritate the already inflamed facial skin. Never pick or pop pimples with your fingers as it can lead to infection. Rather, try using acne patches or tea tree oil on the pimple.

 The seventh recommendation is “BEWARE of the sun”. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and redness and cause post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or dark discoloration. Some acne medications may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Limit your time in the sun especially between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM and wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a broad brimmed hat. Whether you have pimples or not, applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with 6% zinc oxide or higher and SPF 30 or higher at least 20 minutes before sun exposure is ideal. Again, try to look for “non-comedogenic” on the sunscreen label. 

 Eighth recommendation is to feed your skin. Most experts agree that certain foods like chocolate don’t cause pimples. Still it makes sense to avoid greasy food and junk food and add more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. Dairy products and fruits high in processed sugar may trigger acne; avoid these.

Ninth recommendation is to exercise daily. Regular exercise is good for your whole body including your skin. When you exercise, avoid wearing clothing or using exercise equipment that rubs your skin and may cause irritation. Shower or bathe a good half hour after exercise.

And finally, just relax. Some studies link stress with the severity of pimples. Ask yourself what’s making you feel stressed, then look for solutions. When in doubt check with your dermatologist to see if you need more treatment to prevent or stop acne.