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No matter what's causing your acne, there are steps you can take to help clear up your skin.
- Do no harm. In other words, don't pick, press, rub, or otherwise manipulate those pimples. You risk spreading the bacteria and increasing the chances for scarring. The plug at the top of the pore is like a balloon. You can pop it, but below the surface, the sebum, bacteria and skin cells may leak into the surrounding tissue, causing inflammation.
- Use benzoyl peroxide. A number of over-the-counter products contain this ingredient, which helps break up the plug of dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil in pores and cuts down on the bacteria as well. Start with the lowest concentration, and work your way up, especially if you have sensitive skin, because the higher the concentration, the more irritating it may be. Use it once or twice a day. If it dries the skin too much, apply a mild moisturizer.
- Give one of the other over-the-counter products a shot. Other acne products contain sulfur or resorcinol, which help unplug oil glands by irritating the skin. Most dermatologists, however, believe that benzoyl peroxide is the most effective over-the-counter ingredient for acne.
- Apply over-the-counter products for prevention. Don't just spot the product on existing acne, put it on acne-prone areas. That can include your entire face (avoiding the lips and eyes, however), back, and chest.
- Go easy on your face. Kids with oily skin use hot water, a washcloth, and a drying soap and think they can wash their acne away. But they can't. You can wash your face ten times a day and still have acne. It has nothing to do with cleanliness. Washing removes oils from the surface of the skin, not from within the plugged ducts. And adults can certainly suffer from both acne and dry skin. In fact, if you're too aggressive in your quest for cleanliness, you may very well end up drying out or irritating the sensitive skin on your face.
- Wash properly. How do you do that? Use a mild soap. Rub lightly with your fingertips and warm water. Do not use a washcloth. If your skin is oily, use a soap with benzoyl peroxide for its drying properties. And wash once or twice a day.
- Don't exfoliate. That refers to removing the top layer of dead skin cells. Some dermatologists recommend using a rough washcloth or specially designed product to do just that. But your skin is already irritated if you have acne. Don't use brushes, rough sponges, cleansers with granules or walnut hulls, or anything else of that nature on the delicate facial skin. For the back and chest, where skin is less sensitive, you can try one of the acne scrub pads along with soap that contains benzoyl peroxide.
- Watch out for oily products. That goes for oily pomades on your hair, heavy oil-based moisturizers, and even oily cleansers.
- Use water-based makeup. If you're not sure, set the bottle of makeup on the counter. If it separates into water and powder, it's water-based. If it doesn't, it contains oil. Also, opt for powder blushes and loose powders. Eye makeup and lipstick are acceptable because you don't generally get acne in those areas.
- Forgo the facial. Most people giving facials are not trained to treat acne-prone skin properly and may end up doing more harm than good.
- Don't rest your chin on your hands. Try not to constantly touch your face. People who do a lot of telephone work will get chin-line acne. It causes trauma to the acne, just like picking the pimples does. Tight sweatbands and chin straps from sports equipment can have the same effect.
- Soak up the oil. Some cosmetic companies make a paper product that can be pressed onto the skin to soak up oil. It's a very simple procedure. It doesn't help the acne, but it helps relieve the oiliness, which is disagreeable.
- Screen out the sun. At one time, sun exposure was believed to help acne. However, too much sun can lead to skin cancer and premature aging, making the risks outweigh the benefits. He suggests protecting the skin with a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. Look for one that's oil-free or noncomedogenic. Unfortunately, many waterproof products are too likely to clog oil glands to use on the face, so you'll need to be diligent about reapplying the sunscreen often.
- Don't worry about diet. Chocolate, french fries, and other foods have not been proven to have anything at all to do with causing teenage acne. On the other hand, if you notice a correlation between something you eat and you face breaking out, most dermatologists agree that you should avoid the offending food.
Excerpt from The Home Remedies Handbook: Over 1000 Ways to Heal Yourself