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Acne – Frequently Asked Questions

Does washing my face more often stop acne?

No, the changes in the cells of the pores occur too deep in the pore to be affected by vigorous washing or scrubbing. In fact, vigorous washing or scrubbing aggravates acne than helping it. Gentle face washing to remove surface oils 2 or 3 times a day is recommended to improve the oily appearance of the skin, but face washing will not prevent acne from forming. Remember, you cannot wash acne away.

Does eating fatty foods, sugary foods (including chocolate), drinking milk, or eating meat cause acne?

Most studies suggest that individual foods do not cause acne. Recently some studies suggest that diets low in refined sugars and sugar-containing foods (a low glycemic index diet) may be better for acne [3]. Some studies suggest that there could be a link between acne and milk, but there is no direct evidence for this. Milk contains calcium that is especially important for bone development in young people. Any diet where milk is eliminated or reduced would need to have alternative sources of calcium. Some people are concerned about hormones in meats and other foods. There have been no studies to link these foods to the development of acne.

Will the sun make my acne better?

Some people feel that their acne is better during the summer. This may be due to the fact that oftentimes, teenagers (and adults) may be less stressed during the summer, away from school or on vacation. For many, their moods improve in sunny environments. These potential benefits can still be achieved while protecting skin health by using a sunscreen or other protective measures.

What can I do about my acne?

Skin health benefits from a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet that contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with limited refined sugars in addition to exercise, adequate sleep, and management of stress. Beginning to lead a healthy lifestyle as a teenager can have long-term benefits into adulthood. Proper skin care is geared to the type of skin that you have. In all cases, it is important to cleanse the skin gently and avoid unnecessary rubbing or scrubbing of the acne. Using a soft washcloth or just the fingers is best. If the skin is oily, mild soaps or acne washes work well to remove the surface oils. If the skin is dry, gentle cleansing should be followed by use of a moisturizer.

It is a good idea to consider a moisturizer that contains a sunscreen. Some people are concerned that moisturizers or other makeup could cause or aggravate acne. In most cases, this is not true. Most products from major companies are now tested in advance to show that they are non-comedogenic (don’t cause acne). Some people have used the strips designed to remove debris from the pores. There is no harm with gentle use of these strips, which some people feel improves the appearance of their skin.

Does squeezing the pimples affect the outcome?

It is usually advisable not to squeeze the pimples, especially if they are deep. Superficial whitish or yellowish pimples may be gently squeezed to remove the purulent contents. If excessive pressure is required to remove the contents, then pimples should not be squeezed. Otherwise the irritant material may be squeezed into surrounding skin and produce pimples which may be bigger, last longer and result in scarring.

What are the best products to use for my acne?

The best over-the-counter ingredient for acne is benzoyl peroxide. It is the most potent agent available to kill the P. acnes bacteria and should be the first place to start in looking for an over-the-counter acne treatment. Benzoyl peroxide is found in some acne cleansers, acne bar soaps, acne creams and gels, and in some of the popular products advertised on television. Since some products change their ingredients from time to time, the best way to find a benzoyl peroxide containing product is to read the fine print and the list of ingredients on the back of the container or package.

A small percentage of people may develop a reaction to benzoyl peroxide, as evidenced by excess redness, itching or peeling of the skin following its use. In these cases, benzoyl peroxide should be avoided. Keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothing, towels, and sometimes hair, so it is important to properly rinse off benzoyl peroxide washes from the chest and back and not to apply it too close to the hairline. Salicylic acid is also a beneficial over-the-counter acne ingredient, and it is found in many products and in makeup designed for people with acne.

Adjunctive therapies are another option. Novel adjunctive treatments for acne include photodynamic therapy, light and laser procedures that target specific causes of acne. Blue light treatments, for example, kill P. acnes, whereas red light treatments are anti-inflammatory. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion procedures, as well as procedures that involve comedone extraction, also may be useful components of acne treatment programs.

*For any procedure and service described on this website, individual results may vary and may not be applicable in all cases.