15. Twelve Ways to Banish a Blemish

Acne is a common skin condition. It occurs most often in teenagers and young adults, but can persist or begin in adulthood. Whiteheads, blackheads, and reddened, raised, painful pimples sprout on the shoulders, back, neck, and – the ultimate curse – the face. For some, acne – or the scars it can leave persist.

Contrary to myth, acne is not caused by:

  1. Greasy foods.

  2. Chocolate or cola.

  3. Frustrated sex drive.

Acne results when oil ducts below the skin get clogged.

Factors that can help cause acne include:

  1. Hormone changes during adolescence.

  2. Changes in hormone levels before a female’s menstrual period or during pregnancy.

  3. Rich moisturizing lotions or heavy or greasy makeup.

  4. Emotional stress.

  5. Nutritional supplements containing iodine.

  6. Exposure to airborne particles from cooking oils, tar, or creosote (often used as a wood preservative).

  7. Medications, such as corticosteroids and lithium (used to treat some forms of depression).

  8. Illegal (anabolic) steroids. These are used for muscle-building.

The following measures treat acne:

  1. Twice a day, gently wash the skin where the acne appears. Use a mild soap and a clean washcloth. Work the soap into the skin gently for a minute or two. Rinse well. Don’t scrub. (Astringents, degreasing pads, and granular face scrubs may also be beneficial.)

  2. Use a fresh washcloth each time you wash your face. (Bacteria thrive in a damp washcloth, reinfecting your pores if you use it again.)

  3. Ask your dermatologist to recommend a special soap formulated to help acne.

  4. Don’t squeeze, scratch, or poke at pimples. This can cause infection or scarring (or both).

  5. Use an over-the-counter acne-drying medication containing benzoyl peroxide. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. (Note: Some people are allergic to benzoyl peroxide, so you should test it first by applying a small amount to your hand.)

  6. Wash your skin well immediately after you exercise or sweat.

  7. Shampoo your hair at least every other day to eliminate buildup of oils that can contribute to acne on your forehead, neck, and shoulders.

  8. Keep hair off your face to keep it free of scalp oil.

  9. If you’re a male, soften your beard with a warm towel before shaving to lessen skin irritation. Shave along the natural grain of the beard, not against it.

  10. Limit time spent in the sun, especially if you take antibiotics for acne.

  11. Avoid sunlamps.

  12. Avoid greasy or oil-based creams, lotions, and makeups.

Consult a dermatologist if your skin doesn’t improve or if you have a severe case of acne. A doctor can prescribe a topical cream, gel, and/or liquid with retinoic acid (Retin-A). A topical cream, lotion, or wipe with an antibiotic and/or an oral antibiotic may also be prescribed.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems