How can I prevent acne and acne scars?

You can help prevent acne flare-ups and scars by taking good care of your skin:

Clean your skin gently with a mild soap or cleanser twice a day;once in the morning and once at night. You should also gently clean the skin after heavy exercise. Avoid strong soaps and rough scrub pads. Harsh scrubbing of the skin may make acne worse. Wash your entire face from under the jaw to the hairline and rinse thoroughly. Remove make-up gently with a mild soap and water. Ask your doctor before using an astringent.Wash your hair on a regular basis. If your hair is oily, you may want to wash it more often.Do not squeeze or pick at acne lesions. This can cause acne scars.Avoid getting sunburned. Many medicines used to treat acne can make you more prone to sunburn. Many people think that the sun helps acne, because the redness from sunburn may make acne lesions less visible. But, too much sun can also increase your risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin. When you�re going to be outside, use sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Also, try to stay in the shade as much as you can.Choose make-up and hair care products that are "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic." These products have been made in a way that they do not cause acne. You may also want to use products that are oil-free.Avoid things that rub the skin as much as you can, such as backpacks and sports equipment.Talk with your doctor about what treatment methods can help your acne. Take your medicines as prescribed. Be sure to tell your doctor if you think medicines you take for other health problems make your acne worse.

The answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Patricia Farris, MD

You can't really prevent acne but you can certainly do some things to make it less severe and to minimize scarring. It is important to get early treatment especially if you have the more severe cystic type acne. This type of acne is the most likely to scar so early treatment by a dermatologist is key. Never pick acne or try to scrub the pimples away. Gentle cleansing with an acne wash containing either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide is recommended. Always wash your face after sporting events or working out and remove make-up before you go to bed. Use oil free make-up, moisturizers and sunscreens. Even under the best of circumstances some patients will develop acne scars. The good news is there are lots of effective treatments including lasers that can help if they do develop.

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