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How to Treat Acne

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Acne is a disorder of the skin caused by inflammation of the skin glands and hair follicles. Since it forms under the skin, washing away surface oils does not do much to prevent or cure it. Acne treatment falls into three categories:

  • Cleansing & Exfoliating
  • Keeping It Clear
  • Medications

It is a myth that people get acne because they don’t wash enough. Gentle washing is important, but too much washing can irritate the whiteheads and blackheads, causing them to be more infected and making more pimples.

Use a mild cleanser such as Cetaphil, or an acne cleanser such as Aveeno acne bar, Neutrogena Acne Wash, or Benzoyl Peroxide 5 percent bar.

Exfoliating, which removes the layer of dead skin cells, is also important for healthy skin. After washing your face with a mild cleanser, exfoliate with face facial scrub one to two times a week. This can help reduce dead skin cells and debris which can clog pores and cause more acne.

To avoid further clogging of your pores, all cosmetics, lotions, and sunscreens should be oil-free! To avoid dry skin, use an oil-free lotion such as Complex 15. To avoid sunburn use oil-free products such as Neutrogena or Coppertone Oil-free Sunscreen. And remember to beware of hair products and gels, as they tend to be very oily.

 

  • Start conservatively, with 5 percent gel or lotion once a day (such as after you wash your face to go to bed).
  • After one week, increase use to twice a day if you are not using another medication.
  • If your acne is not better after 4 to 6 weeks, try a 10 percent solution. It is now available over-the-counter (without a doctor’s prescription). Be sure to get the pure form: you may want to ask the pharmacist for the type that used to be available by prescription only.