Acne affects us all regardless of our ages. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 will experience outbreaks at some point in their lives. June is Acne Awareness Month, and physicians take the opportunity to raise consciousness for the disease and normalize the conversation and its impact.
HOLA! USA go-to dermatologist Alicia Zalka, MD, Founder of Surface Deep, shared her ten commandments to achieve acne-free skin.
Thou Shalt Not Pick Pimples
It is so tempting to squeeze and pick our acne blemishes. We hate them, and they seem to appear at the most inopportune moments. Ugh! yet, do not pick.
Over manipulation of the acne blemishes really does prolong their already lengthy demise by adding inflammation to the acne. Not to mention bacteria and dirt from your fingertips negatively impacts the skin’s health (less so now than pre COVID hand sanitizing). Resist the urge to pick a pimple. Instead, apply a cool compress or a trusted acne spot treatment.
- Try: Differin 0.1% Acne Gel as directed.
Honor Thy Diet
“To achieve the utmost in most beautiful skin, always be mindful of what you take in,” More and more studies conclude that a high glycemic diet or a diet filled with processed foods can lead to acne. The same foods you’ve heard about repeatedly that are best for ideal weight maintenance and heart health are also the best for your complexion.
Thou Shalt Never Go To Bed Without Washing One’s Face
We all lead busy lives, and our faces get exposed to so many elements throughout the day (air impurities, sweat, grime, oils, along with things we intentionally apply to our faces- like makeup and other products. It is ever so important to cleanse the day and all its encounters from our faces in order to reduce the risk of acne. Clogged pores will have less of a chance to form if you adhere to a strict cleansing routine.
Thou Shalt Exercise Moderation in Skincare
While cleansing is oh so important for overall skincare, it should be done not too gently (a bit of exfoliation is desirable for most) but not too aggressively (a heavy hand with too much cleansing or scrubbing is counterproductive). Twice daily cleansing and twice-weekly exfoliation is ideal for most (get advice from your skincare expert for more details to suit you).
- Try: Skin Medica AHA BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
- Try: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide
Thou Shalt Be Aware of Hormones
- The reason acne begins to complicate our complexion around puberty—-hormonal influences.
- The reason acne can flare up under stress—hormonal influences.
- The reason acne appears right around the week of your period—-hormonal influences.
- The reason some medications like oral contraceptive pills and a medicine called spironolactone may help— hormonal regulation.
Check with your dermatologist about how they may be able to treat you if you think you are suffering acne flare-ups from any of the above. The hormone cycle is your body’s physiology and may be out of your control, but specifically targeted treatments can significantly help.
Thou Shalt Not Surrender to Disappointment About Their Acne
Now more than ever, there is a multitude of excellent treatments for acne at every level. Whether you suffer from the tiniest of whiteheads or are battling more severe acne, options are available from various channels.
Drug stores, online skin sources, a kiosk at the mall, and beauty counters abound in non-prescription acne therapies. Should these not benefit you. Fear not. Visit your aesthetician or board-certified dermatologist for advice. Acne is treatable. It is just a matter of finding the right fit for your complexion.
Thou Shalt Maintain Patience In One’s Approach To Skin Care
I often hear patients state, “Oh, that product didn’t work” or “I tried that, and it made me break out.” To which I ask, “How long did you use it?”. If the reply is “once or twice,” I advise, “that is not long enough to judge the results.”
By all means, if you have an adverse reaction to a product or medication, stop it immediately. However, it takes at least 2-4 weeks on a skincare regimen to decide if it helps or not. Do not rush to judgment. Most dermatologists choose to see their acne patients every 4-6 weeks while following them professionally under treatment. This gives the patient ample time to respond to medications and other therapies and see improvement. It can be tedious, but we cannot rush the results.
Honor Thy Uniqueness
What works for your friend or your favorite Instagram Influencer may not work for you when it comes to skincare, particularly when seeking the optimal acne treatments. Different skin types respond differently to active ingredients found in products. This is where your dermatologist can significantly assist you.
Oily and acne-prone, sensitive skin or “normal” skin types all have their unique characteristics. It is not one cream/gel suits all. Guidelines can be found at so many sources, but if you‘re stuck not knowing the best acne regimen for yourself, ask for in-person help.
Thou Shalt Consider The Big Picture
If your acne is very stubborn or looks like it is causing scarring, seek a board-certified dermatologist for guidance. Also, make sure your overall health is in check. Severe acne can be a symptom of a condition known as polycystic ovary disease (PCOS).
An evaluation with a doctor can mean more than just getting a handle on your appearance.
- Acne is treatable, but scarring may not be. Get your skin treated before it starts to leave permanent remnants.
Honor What Is Old Is New Again
Many new treatments are available by prescription and great devices for cleansing, pore refining, LED masks, and more. However, some traditional ingredients, such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and retinol, are still mainstays in many excellent skincare brands, which are crucial to achieving acne-free skin despite the fact they have been on the scene for several decades.