There are many types of acne, but the most common form occurs during the teenage years when young adults experience a dramatic increase in hormone levels. These hormones signal the skin glands to produce more oil. When this oil mixes with dead cells, it can clog pores in the skin and trap bacteria as well. The result is often a raised tissue area characterized by swelling, redness, and pus. These bumps are also known as "pimples," the symptom most commonly associated with acne.
Acne can occur anywhere on the face, neck, back, or chest, and severe cases can lead to social alienation, or emotional and physical scars. Although mild acne can not be entirely prevented, you can take three steps to minimize its impact.
Gently Cleanse Your Skin: Each day, gently wash your skin with lukewarm water. Avoid scrubbing your face too hard or washing it too often. Doing so can make your acne worse. Also avoid using skin and hair care products that contain excess oil. Instead, use water-based skin care soaps that gently cleanse your skin, such as Neutrogena or Dove.
Apply Topical Ointments: At least once daily, but no more than three times a day, apply a nonprescription topical ointment to problematic areas. One of the best products is Clearasil because it contains both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide works to unplug clogged pores, while salicylic acid helps clear up blemishes by causing the top layer of skin to peel. Products that contain tea tree oil (commonly found in gels, creams, and lotions) or alpha-hydroxy acid are also desirable. However, remember that if you use a product too often, your acne can get worse. So confine your applications to less than three times per day unless otherwise directed by a doctor.
Avoid the Following: Make sure to avoid the following acts which can trigger acne flare-ups: overexposure to the sun, the wearing of tight-fitting items that rub against the skin, excess stress, constant touching of the face, working with oils or harsh chemicals, excessive sweating, hair hanging in your face, or the use of hair care products that contain oils. Also avoid squeezing pimples. Squeezing pimples can result in an infection and/or long-term scaring.
While mild acne is annoying, it will eventually pass. Most people will outgrow acne by their early-twenties, so there is reason to be optimistic. Make each of the above steps part of your daily routine, and you should be able to control your acne. However, those with more severe cases of acne should consult a dermatologist.