Thursday, May 23, 2013

How to Prevent Acne

Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning to 
find out a large pimple on your face!
We all get acne at some point in our life. The breakout of acne is often noticeable during puberty, but adults may have acne problems too. It’s hard to pinpoint the real cause of acne.  Genetics, hormones, and some dietary factors yet to be determined might play a role.

What is Acne?

Before I go into details how to prevent acne, you should first understand how it develops. Our skin has pores with hair follicles. Our skin naturally has oil to act as a natural barrier. The sebaceous glands are responsible for the oil or sebum production. Sometimes, these glands produce more sebum than necessary. The sebum, plus the dead skin cells, gets clogged in the pores. A trapped sebum leads to the formation of whiteheads or blackheads. Sometimes they go away by themselves, gradually releasing the trapped substances. At other times, rupture occurs along the follicular wall, leading to inflammation. Red bump starts to appear around the pore. A bump on the surface that gets infected is called a pimple, whereas a blockage that occurs deep in the pore becomes a cyst.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, there are three factors responsible for acne development:
  1. overproduction of sebum,
  2. irritation
  3. build up of bacteria.
Apparently, if you want to prevent acne, you should watch out for these three culprits. I’ll elaborate on these later.

Treatment for Acne

Topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxidesalicylic acid address to acne problems by dealing with bacteria and sebum. These medications dry out excess oil and remove dead skin cells. Benzoyl Peroxide prevents the build up of P. acnes bacteria whereas Salicylic Acid cuts through grease and promotes skin peeling. They are available over-the-counter and are often included in cosmetic products such as soaps and facial wash as active ingredients. 

How to Prevent Breakouts

Dealing with acne can start at home. Follow a proper skin care 
regimen and choose your products carefully to help prevent acne.
Dealing with acne can start at home. By just adapting proper skin care methods and some good habits, you can help prevent or lessen your acne. Let’s first take a look on the three contributing factors of acne development:

Overproduction of sebum

Some people have oily skin. If you are one of them, you should follow a good skin care regimen. Wash your face with a mild cleanser twice daily (washing more than needed could do more harm than good). After washing, use an alcohol-free toner to remove excess oil and dead skin cells. Slather on a light moisturizer afterwards. Remember that despite having an oily face, you still need to do this step as this will help retain the needed moisture for your skin. Other than this routine, watch out for your stress level too. More stress equals more sebum production. Learn some stress management techniques to avoid compromising your skin and prevent acne.


Follicular walls rupture when irritated. Vigorous rubbing and scrubbing irritates the skin. So avoid rubbing your face while towelling after wash. Instead, pat it dry. Be gentle to your face, it is delicate. If you have extra sensitive skin, aggressive mechanical exfoliation might be too harsh. Consider using products with alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) ingredients for a gentler peeling method. Be aware where your breakout tends to occur. If it occurs on one same spot, it may be due to your habits. Do you rest one side of your face on the pillow while sleeping? Are you frequently using the telephone? Resting your skin against these things causes irritation too. Watch out for your beauty products. Products with fragrances usually irritate skin. Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, oil-free, and water-based are the labels you should look for in a product to prevent acne breakouts. Check your hair products labels as well, especially when your hair is always in contact with your face. Make sure they have no oil and no irritants.

Build Up of Bacteria

Bacteria are not dirt. Dirt does not cause acne, although it may worsen it. Washing too often does remove dirt, but harms the skin. Benzoyl peroxide kills P. acnes bacteria responsible for acne growth. You might want to add products with this ingredient as part of your skin regimen. The medication, however, might cause over dryness, peeling, and sensitivity to sun. Lessening the application, applying moisturizer, and applying sunscreen are ways to deal with the side effects. If irritation persists, stop using the medication.

For more information about acne, see related blog posts.

Last Updated: August 22, 2015
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