"Acne is a common, chronic disease that affects 90 percent of teens and 50-70 percent of adult women," states Kathy Fields, M.D. and Katie Rodan, M.D., co-founders of Rodan + Fields Dermatology and co-founders of Proactiv Solution. Drs. Fields and Rodan explain that acne occurs when dead skin cells combine with the skin's natural oil, clumps together inside the pore and creates an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish. The body's natural response begins and red and white blood cells swarm in to prevent infection, thus creating the swelling and inflammation in the form of a pimple or other type of breakout. Drs. Fields and Rodan state, "Acne is common, complex, chronic and NOT curable. But it IS controllable. The good news is that, with the right combination of medicines, those with acne can enjoy skin that's as clear and healthy-looking as someone who had no acne at all. The secret is finding the right combination of medicines and skin care treatments that work for you."
Caring for acne-prone skin can be tricky until you find the right combination or skin care products that work best for you. Not everyone who has acne has oily skin, and many acne skin care products can be harsh. Make sure to choose products with your particular skin type in mind — be it oily, dry or sensitive. Marcy Street, M.D., a practicing dermatologist in East Lansing, Michigan suggests washing your face with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help dry up acne. Wash your face gently; scrubbing and rubbing can irritate skin and increase oil production. Use an oil-free moisturizer so it doesn't clog pores. You can also choose to spot treat with a benzoyl peroxide product. Choose make-up products that are oil-free, which will not clog pores during the day. Matte finishes in foundation, blush and eyeshadow are best for oily skin. If you have dry skin, try to find natural products that won't clog pores.
Bacteria are a constant problem with acne-prone skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) urges you not to touch your skin throughout the day because bacteria can transmit from your fingers to your face. Another trick — buy several cotton pillowcases and change your pillowcase each day to lower bacteria exposure to your face.
Tanning can be damaging to your skin if you are acne-prone and are using either prescription topical cleansers or over-the-counter acne treatments. Acne treatments can cause the top layer of your skin to become sensitive or thinner, causing the skin to have increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Drs. Fields and Rodan state, "The sun is acne's friend — not your skin's! One of the oldest myths about acne is that the sun is a key ally in your fight — particularly in drying pimples. Let's be clear: sun exposure makes acne much worse and should be avoided." It is best to avoid tanning in the sun or in an indoor tanning bed to prevent further irritation or damage to your skin.
A healthy diet can have a positive effect on your skin. Lisa Benest, M.D., a dermatologist who practices in Burbank, California says that it has been found that populations who do not eat refined grains, sugars and processed foods as part of their daily diet experience little to no acne. "A diet high in refined, processed foods such as breads, cereals, pastas and candy, creates an environment in our bodies that causes a cascade of adverse effects on our hormonal system," Dr. Benest says. She recommends limiting refined and processed foods, artificial sweeteners, refined vegetable oils and dairy products in the diets of people suffering from acne. She also recommends taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements to calm inflammation.
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