Acne: Six rules to live by


1. Don’t blame the food.

For years, greasy foods and treats like chocolate were blamed for making acne worse. The truth is, these foods may clog your arteries, but they won’t clog your pores. Experts believe that the tendency to develop acne is something you can inherit from your parents. If you find that you’re unusually sensitive to certain foods and they appear to make your skin worse, avoid those foods. Also, it’s not a bad idea to wash your face after a meal if you have leftover oil on your skin. And don’t use oily cosmetics or skin care products. Here are two more myths about acne:

  • Acne is caused by dirty skin. Not so — the problem is a mechanical one. Substances that would ordinarily flow onto the surface of your skin get backed up inside, causing blackheads and pimples.
  • The sun is good for your skin. Wrong! Sun may redden your skin, temporarily making pimples less visible. It may also make it feel drier for a little while. but in reality, the sun seriously damages your skin. And any benefit you may notice will be gone in a day or two.

2. Don’t scrub.

You can’t scrub away acne. In fact, too much washing may cause extra irritation. Wash once in the morning and once in the evening. You can also wash after heavy exercise. Use gentle cleansers, and wash from under the jaw to the hairline — that includes your ears. Make sure you rinse your skin well. Don’t use rough scrubs or pads, and use your hands instead of a washcloth.

You shouldn’t use an astringent unless your skin is very oily — and then, use is only on the oily spots. If you want to use a light moisturizer, dab it only on the dry patches — don’t put it all over your skin. Moisturizers don’t prevent wrinkles — staying out of the sun helps do that!

3. No picking, no squeezing.

Sorry, your mother is right about this one. Keep those hands away from your face. Don’t examine your skin with a magnifying glass. Allow your acne medication to do its job. You might be tempted to give those pimples a little pinch now and then, but remember that it won’t improve your skin. It will leave scars. By the way, pimples don’t vanish without a trace. They leave behind little spots or shadows, particularly if you have darker coloring. These will fade in time.

4. Read the small print.

Your medicines will be clearly labeled — read the directions and follow them exactly. They may also include extra suggestions. For instance, some medicines need to be taken on an empty stomach. Or your doctor may recommend you put medicine all over your skin — not just on the pimples.

5. Question authorities.

Don’t be shy. Doctors and pharmacists can answer questions you have about your acne or your medicines. Ask how you should use your medication. Ask if it can cause side effects. For example, some medicines irritate the skin. You may think your skin is getting worse, when actually the medicine is doing what it should do. Take your concerns to the experts — that’s what they’re there for!

6. Remember that patience is a virtue.

Stick with the program recommended by your doctor. It may take more than a month for you to notice an improvement. If your skin does not get better within a reasonable period of time, your doctor may change your program.