Unfortunately, finding an effective skin care regimen for acne-prone skin can be quite a frustrating experience. But acne can be controlled, and it is important that you understand what type of acne you have and seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid scarring. The best way to treat your acne is to be informed, aware, and positive. Find the right solution for your skin. What works for your best friend may actually make your skin much worse. Only attempt to self-treat your acne if it is very mild. Your pharmacist can help you choose the right product for you.
Here are a few basic steps to help you along the path to clearer skin:
Step 1: Clean. The first step is to cleanse the skin. Wet your face, then massage the cleanser onto skin in gentle circular motions for 15 seconds to 5 minutes, then rinse off thoroughly. Never wipe or rub your face with the towel; blot or pat it dry. Keep these extra tips in mind when you're cleansing your skin:
- Use a mild cleanser or medicated cleansers with either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in the morning and before bedtime.
- Do not wash excessively or scrub too hard. This can strip the skin of its natural oils and may irritate already-present acne.
- Avoid cream-based cleansers if you have oily skin. They may make your skin even oilier.
- Some cleansers can also dry your skin, especially if you use them too much. You may have to try a few products before you find one that works well.
Step 2: Moisturize. After cleansing the skin, use a light, oil-free moisturizer. If your skin is very oily, you might want to skip this step. If using a moisturizer, ensure that the label reads "non-acnegenic" or "non-comedogenic."
Step 3: Treat. Most of the over-the-counter topical (skin-applied) treatments for acne contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, zinc, or sulfur. Treatments are available in gels, solutions, creams, lotions, or pads. Before you use a new product on your face, always test the product on a small patch of skin on your arm or behind the ear to see if you are sensitive to the product. If the product causes too much irritation (e.g., redness, stinging, or peeling), look for a lower-strength product or use it less frequently.
Apply topical solutions all over the acne-prone areas, not just on the visible blemish, to prevent formation of additional acne. If your acne is not improving after 6 to 8 weeks of use, contact your doctor or dermatologist for a more effective treatment.
- Remember to use clean towels and wash your pillowcase and sheets regularly.
- If you must use hair products, keep your hair out of your face, as these products could irritate skin and cause breakouts.
- When choosing cosmetics or any other type of face product, test behind the ear for at least one week to see if it is tolerated.
- Use medicated, oil-free cosmetics. Concealers are available in many shades that will cover up the pimples and treat them at the same time.
- Do not wash your face excessively.
- Make sure to cleanse your face after rigorous exercise.
- Use scrubs cautiously, as they may irritate skin.
- Do not manipulate pimples with your fingers (squeezing or picking) or touch your face excessively, as pimples heal better and faster without touching.