10 SKIN CARE HABITS THAT CAN WORSEN ACNE
Are you faithfully treating your acne but still seeing new breakouts? Your skin care routine could be to blame. Here you’ll find 10 skin care habits that can worsen acne and dermatologists’ tips to help you change those habits.
10 Habits to stop
1. Try a new acne treatment every week or so.
This approach can irritate your skin, which can cause breakouts.
Washing your face throughout the day can irritate your skin and cause acne breakouts.
What to do instead: Give an acne treatment time to work. You want to use a product for 6 to 8 weeks. It takes that long to see some improvement. If you don’t see any improvement by then, you can try another product. Complete clearing generally takes 3 to 4 months.
2. Apply acne medication only to your blemishes.
It makes sense to treat what you see, but this approach fails to prevent new breakouts.
What to do instead: To prevent new blemishes, spread a thin layer of the acne medication evenly over your acne-prone skin. For example, if you tend to breakout on your forehead, nose, and chin, you would want to apply the acne treatment evenly on all of these areas of your face.
3. Use makeup, skin care products, and hair care products that can cause acne.
Some makeup, along with many skin and hair care products, contain oil or other ingredients that can cause acne breakouts. If you continue to use them, you may continue to see blemishes.
What to do instead: Use only makeup, sunscreen, skin, and hair-care products that are labeled “non-comedogenic” or “won’t clog pores.” These products don’t cause breakouts in most people.
Even if you use only non-comedogenic products, sharing makeup can lead to blemishes. Acne isn’t contagious, but when you share makeup, makeup brushes, or applicators, the acne-causing bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells on other people’s skin can wind up in your makeup. When you use that makeup, you can transfer their bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells to your skin. These can clog your pores, leading to breakouts.
What to do instead: Make sure you’re the only person who uses your makeup, makeup brushes, and makeup applicators.
5. Sleep in your makeup.
Even non-comedogenic makeup can cause acne if you sleep in it.
What to do instead: Remove your makeup before you go to bed. No exceptions. If you’re too tired to wash your face, use a makeup remover towelette. Just make sure it’s a non-comedogenic towelette.
Wash your face throughout the day.
Washing your face several times a day can further irritate your skin, leading to more breakouts.
What to do instead: Wash your face twice a day — when you wake up and before you go to bed. You’ll also want to wash your face when you finish an activity that makes you sweat.
6. Dry out your skin.
Skin with acne is oily, so it can be tempting to apply astringent and acne treatments until your face feels dry. Don’t. Dry skin is irritated skin. Anytime you irritate your skin, you risk getting more acne.
What to do instead: Use acne treatments as directed. If your skin feels dry, apply a moisturizer made for acne-prone skin. You’ll want to apply the moisturizer twice a day, after washing your face.
You also want to avoid using astringents, rubbing alcohol, and anything else that can dry out your skin.
7. Scrub your skin clean.
To get rid of acne, you may be tempted to scrub your skin clean. Don’t. Scrubbing can irritate your skin, causing acne to flare.
What to do instead: Be gentle when washing your face and other skin with acne. You want to use a mild, non-comedogenic cleanser. Apply the cleanser lightly with your fingertips, using a circular motion. Gently rinse it off with warm water, using only your fingers. Then pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
8. Rub sweat from your skin during a workout.
Using a towel to roughly rub away sweat can irritate your skin, which can cause breakouts.
What to do instead: When working out, use a clean towel to gently pat sweat from your skin.
9. Pop or squeeze breakouts.
When you pop or squeeze acne, you’re likely to push some of what’s inside (e.g., pus, dead skin cells, or bacteria) deeper into your skin. When this happens, you increase inflammation. This can lead to more-noticeable acne and sometimes scarring and pain.
What to do instead: Resist the temptation to pop or squeeze acne. You want to treat your acne with acne medication. If you have deep or painful acne, seeing a dermatologist is necessary to help clear your acne.
How to Get Rid of Acne (Pimples)
Acne (acne vulgaris, common acne) is a disease of the hair follicles of the face, chest, and back that affects almost all teenagers during puberty — the only exception being members of a few primitive Neolithic tribes living in isolation. It is not caused by bacteria, although bacteria play a role in its development. It is not unusual for some women to develop acne in their mid- to late-20s.
- The Comedo or blackhead;
- The inflammatory papule; and
- The pustule or pimple.
Acne appears on the skin as
- occluded pores (“comedones”), also known as blackheads or whiteheads,
- tender red bumps also known as pimples or zits,
- pustules (bumps containing pus), and occasionally as
- cysts (the deep pimples and boils of cystic acne).
One can do a lot to treat acne using products available at a drugstore or cosmetic counter that do not require a prescription. However, for tougher cases of acne, one should consult a physician for treatment options.
What causes acne?
No one factor causes acne.
Acne occurs when sebaceous (oil) glands attached to the hair follicles are stimulated at the time of puberty or due to other hormonal changes. Sebum (oil) is a natural substance that lubricates and protects the skin. Associated with increased oil production is a change in the manner in which the skin cells mature, predisposing them to plug the follicular pore. The plug can appear as a whitehead if it is covered by a thin layer of skin, or if exposed to the air, the darker exposed portion of the plug is called a “blackhead.” The plugged hair follicle gradually enlarges, producing a bump. As the follicle enlarges, the wall may rupture, allowing irritating substances and normal skin bacteria access into the deeper layers of the skin, ultimately producing inflammation. Inflammation near the skin’s surface produces a pustule; deeper inflammation results in a papule (pimple); if the inflammation is deeper still, it forms a cyst.
Here are some factors that don’t usually play a role in acne:
- Food: Parents often tell teens to avoid pizza, greasy and fried foods, and junk food. While these foods may not be good for overall health, they don’t play an important causal role in acne. Although some recent studies have implicated a high-carbohydrate diet, milk, and pure chocolate in aggravating acne, these findings are far from established.
- Dirt: Blackheads are oxidized oil, not dirt. Sweat does not cause acne and is produced by entirely separate glands in the skin. On the other hand, excessive washing can dry and irritate the skin.
- Stress: Some people get so upset by their pimples that they pick at them and make them last longer. Stress, however, does not play much of a direct role in causing acne.
In occasional patients, the following may be contributing factors:
- Heredity: If one of your parents had severe acne, it is likely that your acne will be more difficult to control.
- Pressure: In some patients, pressure from helmets, chin straps, collars, suspenders, and the like can aggravate acne.
- Drugs: Some medications may cause or worsen acne, such as those containing iodides, bromides, or oral or injected steroids (either the medically prescribed prednisone or the steroids that bodybuilders or athletes sometimes take). Other drugs that can cause or aggravate acne are anticonvulsant medications and lithium. Most cases of acne, however, are not drug related.
- Occupations: In some jobs, exposure to industrial products like cutting oils may produce acne.
- Cosmetics: Some cosmetics and skin care products are pore clogging (“comedogenic”). Of the many available brands of skin care products, it is important to read the list of ingredients and choose those which have water listed first or second if one is concerned about acne. These “water-based” products are usually best for those with acne.