1. Get help
There is no point in suffering in silence. Although acne cannot be cured, it can definitely be treated effectively. Discuss your problem with your doctor and ask him/her to refer you to a dermatologist.
2. To squeeze or not
It is hard to resist the temptation, but try not to pinch or squeeze lesions. In particular, inflammatory acne lesions should never be squeezed. If you handle your skin too often, infected material may go deeper into your skin and this could cause additional inflammation and possible scarring or dark blotches.
3. Stay out of the sun
You may be tempted to suntan because suntan can improve your looks. However, the effect is only temporary and there is no evidence that sunlight improves acne. Sunlight can do more harm than good as it leads to early ageing and increases your risk of skin cancer. Many medications used to treat acne can actually make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. Rather follow one of the many proven treatment programmes.
4. Give your skin a break
If you constantly switch products and try too many things, you don’t give anything a chance to work. Try one new product at a time, giving each at least three weeks to take effect.
5. How to remember to take your medication
An easy way to remember to take your medication, is to associate it with a routine daily event such as brushing your teeth. Keep your medication next to your toothbrush or on the breakfast table.
6. Wear the right clothes
Tight bra straps, headbands, collars and other clothing which place pressure on the skin may cause zits and blackheads in those areas of the skin. Rather wear loose, cool clothing which allows your skin to breathe.
7. Stay out of the kitchen
Working in a kitchen, going on holiday to places with high humidity or using a steam room or sauna, can aggravate your acne or cause flare-ups. This is due to hydration and swelling of the ductal blockages which lead to the inflammatory phase of acne.
8. Check your medicine cabinet
Many medicines, especially corticosteroids and anti-epilepsy drugs, can make your acne worse. If you think this is the case, never stop taking it without discussing it with your doctor first.
9. Sleeping beauty
Your mum was right. It is important to get eight hours’ sleep - not only for your general health, but also for your skin. In order to build a healthy immune system, you need your rest. Although enough sleep cannot prevent acne, it can help fight infection and aid recovery.
10. Don’t stop exercising
Excessive sweating can make your acne worse, but this is not a reason to stop exercising. Apart from all its other health benefits, exercise also helps you to get rid of stress. It is important to limit stress because, although it doesn’t cause acne, it can aggravate it. When you exercise, make sure to wash properly afterwards to get rid of persperation.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD