How can I prevent acne?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
If you have acne-prone skin, take a good, hard look at your lifestyle, your stress level, what you put on your face every day, and what you are eating. Do some detectives work on your particular triggers, and then try to avoid or adjust them. And be sure to choose the right ingredients in your cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
Use products containing salicylic acid to keep the pores open and prevent obstruction, which starts the acne process in the first place. A prescription retinoid works beautifully to control both comedonal and inflammatory acne because it exfoliates the skin, regulates the shedding process of keratinocytes, and controls overproduction of sebum. For those with sensitive skin, I recommend using a retinoid three nights a week - applying it for fifteen minutes, then rinsing it off. These short treatments will be effective and less irritating. (Many patients find retinoids too harsh on their skin and then give up entirely.) The frequency and duration of retinoid applications may be increased once a tolerance has been established. The medication should be used until the skin clears, at which point the patient can taper off the applications.
Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...
To help prevent acne:
  • Try acne creams from the store.
  • Choose makeup and lotion carefully. Stay away from oily products. Look for things marked "water-based."
  • Keep your hair and hands clean and off your face. The things that touch your face can make it more greasy.
  • Don't pick or squeeze pimples. This can cause scars.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
One of the easiest ways to prevent acne is by taking good care of your skin everyday. In particular, wash with a mild cleanser that does not contain harsh ingredients like regular soaps.

With a little know-how, you can minimize or potentially eliminate occasional adult acne outbreaks on your face, back, shoulders, neck, chest, limbs, or elsewhere merely by changing a few small behaviors.

Check Your Hair and Skin Products: Hair conditioners, gels, pomades, shaving products, cosmetics, moisturizers, sunscreens, and other products that contain oil can clog your pores and cause a breakout. Simply switching to hair and skin products that don't clog pores, called "noncomedogenic", could make a big difference in the appearance of your skin. Check the labels on your hair and skin products to see if they are marked oil-free and noncomedogenic. Also, consider whether you truly need every product you use. Even products marked "dermatologist tested" can cause acne for some people. Minimizing the number of products you use may help further reduce outbreaks. And when you exercise, wear as little makeup as possible. Even oil-free and noncomedogenic cosmetics can clog pores if worn during heavy, sweaty exercise.

Adopt a Hands-Off Policy: Do you often rest your chin or cheeks in your hands or rub your nose? Doing so can encourage the growth of bacteria and cause infection to the areas most inflamed by adult acne. Adopt a strict hands-off policy that holds for breakouts, too. Picking or squeezing can drive acne bacteria deeper into the skin, leading to more inflammation and possibly to permanent scarring. So try to resist the temptation to touch.

Don't Let Sweat Stick Around: Rinse off as soon as possible after you work out. Physical activity heats up the body, causing perspiration to mix with surface skin oils. Together, they trap substances in your pores. If a quick rinse isn't possible, towel off and change into dry clothes as soon as you can. Sitting around in sweaty clothes, especially if they are tight-fitting, can lead to acne on your chest, back, and other parts of the body. Also, avoid wearing tight headbands or hats that rub against your skin. If you wear a helmet or any other safety gear with straps, be sure to wash the straps frequently to reduce bacteria.

Avoid Overwashing and Harsh Scrubs: Acne is not caused by dirt, so washing frequently with harsh substances such as alcohol-based products won't solve the problem. In fact, it may make the situation worse by prompting excess oil production and more blemishes. Be good to your skin by washing gently from under the jaw to the hairline with a mild soap once or twice a day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.