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How to Prevent Acne

Where there is one, another may soon follow and before you know it, an acne outbreak has turned your face into a blemished work of art. While the fear and frustration is often associated with teenagers, acne is a common condition that affects adults as well. When the oil from glands combines with dead skin cells, clogged pores (follicles) are the result. Over time, the follicles bulge, encouraging the development of pimples, and other type of acne. Close to 85% of all people between the ages of 12 and 24 will encounter a bout of acne, where the extent of their experience may depend on the type of prevention and treatment methods they follow.

How to Prevent Acne

What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when pores become clogged and pimples begin to appear on the surface of the skin. An acne outbreak may occur about many different parts of the body, including the face, back, neck, and chest. Acne also presents no known predicators regarding when it will strike and for how long [1]. The unpredictable condition has a tendency to fade over time, vanish without a trace, decrease in frequency, or get worse with age. Some individuals are lucky enough to bypass the teenage stage of acne, but unlucky enough to suffer from acne decades later.

While the condition is often seen as a “teenage” or “adolescence” problem, men and women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s may experience acne. When it comes to the condition that sends many running for the Oxy, Clearasil, or Proactiv, there are four common types of acne that an individual may encounter. They include:

a) Whiteheads:

This is a clogged pore that has no opening.

b) Blackheads:

This is an example of a pore that is open, revealing a dark surface due to its exposure to air.

c) Pimples:

When plugged pores have become infected, reddish spots (also referred to as “zits”) appear, which is a sign of a bacterial infection [2].

d) Cysts:

A buildup of secretions causes thick lumps to develop beneath the surface of the skin.

Accompanying the history of acne, an assortment of misconceptions and rumors (“don’t eat chocolate” and “masturbation brings bumps”) have developed over time, causing many to become confused regarding the details of the condition. The exact causes and reasons why one suffers acne outbreaks and why another may not, is not clear.

Despite many question marks, there are numerous factors linked to the development of acne. Heredity is thought to play the biggest role in acne, while stress; excess dead skin cells; bacteria in the pores; skin irritation and scratching; the use of anabolic steroids; and some illegal drugs (such as barbiturates) also causes inflammations and bacterial eruptions of the skin [3].

The Negative Effects of Acne

No matter what age an individual with acne is, the visual aspects of the condition cause a range of negative effects that vary from embarrassment to self-conscious tendencies. Because teenagers are in the process of “finding themselves” and becoming their own person, any little setback can cause them to falter in their quest to shape their identity. An acne problem is often responsible for lowering self-esteem; causing a lack of confidence; developing extreme shyness, and encouraging a poor self-image.

An assortment of emotions may also take place for those who suffer an acne outbreak, including frustration, anger, lack of cleanliness, as well as resentment towards those who do not have acne. In regards to the medical aspect of acne, the condition is rarely seen as serious, yet deep pitting and scarring may take place on the skin. Fortunately, this damaging effect is often treatable through a wide-range of treatment options.

Acne Risk Factors

One of the main reasons an individual may face a higher risk in developing acne has to do with the balance of hormones in the body, which can inflame or aggravate acne. Those who constantly expose their skin to direct contact to greasy or oily substances (often found in many cosmetics, hair care, and face products) also increase their chances for an acne breakout.

Undue pressure or constant rubbing against the skin may also cause acne to develop, as telephones, cell phones, helmets, tight clothing, and backpacks are main culprits [4]. A family history of acne also affects ones risk – so if your parents had acne – chances are you will likely follow in their footsteps as well. Additional risk factors include:

a) Teenagers:

Both males and females undergoing puberty face an increased chance of suffering an acne attack.

b) Menstruation:

Women and teenage girls may experience an acne outbreak about two to seven days before their periods.

c) Pregnant Women:

Pregnancy causes hormones to become imbalanced, which gives acne the perfect chance to surface.

d) Medications:

People taking certain prescription medications, such as cortisone, face a higher risk of developing acne. Some birth control pills may also create acne in some women.

How to Prevent Acne

Before you explore the many ways one may prevent acne, it’s suggested to get your facts straight. Dirty skin, eating chocolate bars, and drinking lots of Coca Cola does not cause acne. Acne is caused by overactive oil glands in the skin driven by an accumulation of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Over time, inflammation in the pores takes place and pimples are often the result. In order to prevent or decrease the factors that cause acne, you may want to consider the following preventive measures:

a) Select Gentle Cleansers:

Using a gentle cleanser to wash problem areas is a good way to prevent acne. A variety of notable products are on the market, such as an array of facial scrubs, astringents, and facial masks. When choosing the best cleansers, the key word to focus on is ‘gentle,’ because harsh chemicals will only irritate the skin and increase the chances of acne. Additional skin irritants to consider include excessive washing and scrubbing too hard.

b) Choose Cosmetic Products Carefully:

Skin care products with a high level of oil and grease should be avoided in order to prevent acne. This also includes the use of sunscreens, hair-styling products, lotions, makeup, moisturizers, and acne products. Products labeled as “water-based” come highly recommended.

c) Protect the Face:

Since sweat, oil, and dirt are major contributors to acne, keeping hair clean and off of your face is a good method for preventing the condition [5]. Another prevention method is to keep telephone receivers off of the face, which is known to cause acne outbreaks. Baseball caps with sweaty brims are known to cause the forehead to break out as well. You should also avoid squeezing or picking at the face, which has a capacity to cause infection and possible scarring.

d) Wash Off the Sweat:

Sweat has a habit of clogging the pores and making existing acne worse [6]. After exercising, running, jogging, or working up a sweat, it is suggested to take a bath or shower to revive the skin and keep pores clear. This especially goes for people who work in the fast-food business and come in contact with hot, greasy foods that cause the skin the sweat.

e) Consider Home Remedies [7]:

Just when you thought there was nothing else you could do with Elmer’s Glue-All…there comes a home remedy to prevent acne. Exfoliation is an important process that allows pores to breathe and remain clog-free. Often, consumers purchase items like Biore Pore Strips in an effort to remove oil and blackheads. Did you know that the common household product of Elmer’s All-Glue acts as an effective, water-soluble skin care product that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Simply coat the face with a thin layer of glue and once dry, gently peel off. In the end, you will have exfoliated a thin layer of skin, removing unwanted dead skin cells.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acne
[2] Mayo Clinic Guide to Self Care (Philip Hagen; Editor-in-Chief; Fourth Edition; pg 118)
[3] p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acne#Causes_of_acne
[4] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169/DSECTION=4
[5] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169/DSECTION=7
[6] http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/skin_stuff/prevent_acne.html
[7] Joey Green’s Amazing Kitchen Cures by Joey Green (pg. 1)

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