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How to Prevent Acne

Dr. GauravVerified

Board Certified Pediatrician

MBBS, MD, DNB (Pediatric)

7,958 positive ratings
Key Hydration

Skin needs hydration, and the best hydration is water. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day for healthier skin.

Acne, also called pimples or zits, is a common skin condition that afflicts all ages. In most cases it occurs due to a combination of various factors, most prominent being your genes and hormones. There are various treatments and procedures to take care of acne, most of which become expensive. The best way to treat acne is to prevent it from occurring.  

There are several preventative measures to take to keep yourself from getting those pesky pimples. Knowing your skin type is the first step in preventing breakouts and even for buying anti-acne products. There are three skin types that are common, oily, dry, and combination skin type, and each one can have acne, but each skin type may require a different skin care regimen and products to prevent acne, foremost, and to treat acne if it surfaces. Read below for information on how to prevent acne.

Keeping your face and body clean

A young girl splashing her face with water over a sink

The most basic thing to remember about one's skin is to keep it clean and to nourish it. Clean, exfoliated skin is the first step in preventing acne. Keeping your skin clean by washing twice a day usually helps in preventing acne to a large extent. Washing your face more than twice a day can dry out your skin, causing the oil ducts to overwork to regenerate the moisture required. Start by gently washing your face with a mild facial cleanser, warm water, and your hands or a soft cloth. Thoroughly rinse your face and pat dry with a clean, soft towel. Avoid using scented body wash on face, since it is too harsh for sensitive skin.

While washing your face, avoid the following

  • Hot water, as it washes away the skin’s natural moisture
  • Abrasive soaps containing dyes and perfumes
  • Rough fiber washcloths, loofahs or abrasive exfoliating brushes, as these can be harmful to your skin
  • Reusing a dirty washcloth or towel because it may harbor bacteria

Acne products used for cleansing contain ingredients meant to dry your skin out, to get rid of or prevent acne. When purchasing facial cleanser, choose one that is noncomedogenic, meaning it prevents acne without drying your skin. There are several acne products available over-the-counter and some that need a prescription. Most over-the-counter products contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or lactic acid; all are meant to reduce bacteria and dry your skin to prevent acne.

Acne creams and medications can also dry out your skin, causing it to peel. If peeling occurs consistently after several weeks of use, reduce the use of or stop using the product and allow your skin to regenerate its natural oils. Always start with a small amount and test it out on your ski before regular use.

Moisturizing is key to healthy skin

Next step is to choose a hydrator for skin nourishment. When we wash our face, a lot of the natural oils are stripped away, which in turn clogs pores increasing the likelihood of acne breakouts. To prevent this, it is essential to use a good hydrator depending on your skin type. Use a lightweight oil-free water or gel-based moisturizer to gently rehydrate after your facial cleansing routine.

Choosing a moisturizer. Everybody’s skin type is different and requires a different type of moisturizer. Water or gel-based moisturizers work best for oily skin because they lightly replace moisture to prevent over-production of the skin’s natural oils. Cream-based moisturizers work better for dry skin, because it soaks into the pores, creating longer lasting moisture protection.

Exfoliating for acne prevention

A young woman lightly exfoliating her skin in front of a mirror.

Exfoliation removes the layer of dead skin cells, thus allowing fresh layer of new skin to breath. Along with the dead cells, dirt that clogs your pores is also removed. Exfoliating once a week sufficient; too much can dry your skin out. Exfoliating at night is preferred because removing dirt particles and excess skin may cause your face to turn red and blotchy. This redness goes away overnight, leaving only a new layer of skin.   

Exfoliation method that is right for your skin type should be ideally used. You can make your own exfoliation cream at home or purchase an over-the-counter cream. If this does not work, see your Dermatologist about a prescription medication. Start by pulling your hair back and using warm water and a clean cloth to wash your face. The water should be warm enough you can put it on your face, but not so hot it burns your skin. The heat opens the pores on your face. Gently wash your face with your chosen facial cleanser. Do not scrub. Using your fingers or a clean cloth, apply the exfoliating cream to your face using circular motions. Rinse the cream off using warm water; make sure it is completely removed. Splash your face with cold water to close the pores to prevent any dirt from getting in your pores.

Gently dry your face and apply your moisturizer. It is best to use a moisturizer with sunscreen to prevent sunburn on your delicate skin. If not, then you can apply sunscreen over the moisturizer after a few minutes.

Do not exfoliate if you have open sores or sun damage on your face.

Choosing the right makeup, and hair products

The type of makeup and skin products you choose can affect how healthy your skin is. For those who are constantly fighting acne, non-comedogenic makeup is best. This type of makeup does not clog pores. Also, make sure it is lightweight and oil-free. Heavy or thick and oily products can clog your pore and easily create pimples from bacteria. Most importantly, always wash your face every night to remove all makeup.

A group of women applying makeup in front of a mirror

During a breakout, try avoiding compact powders or blush. Do not use any products which contain dyes or chemicals.

Another common factor for acne breakouts is hair products. Your hair can leave excess oils on your face if you have bangs or if it is always in your face. Wash your hair often to reduce the amount of oils it holds, using a mild shampoo and conditioner. Keep your hair pulled back when possible or during major breakouts. Avoid hair products containing perfumes, oils or other harmful chemicals.

Eating your way to healthy skin

Eating and drinking healthy with good sleeping habits helps not only in preventing acne, but also for a faster recovery. After many clinical trials and years of research, health Experts concluded that diet and exercise do play a role in acne prevention.

Hydration is an essential defense against acne because it helps clear the toxins from the body that form pimples. You should drink between 6 - 8 glasses of water per day or more depending on your daily activity.

Your body needs a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and nuts and berries. A balanced diet is not only essential to a healthy body, but it is also vital to healthy skin. Eating oysters, wheat germ, veal, liver, roast beef, roasted pumpkin and squash, and melon seeds are all good for your skin. Eating fruits and vegetables packed with beta-carotene, arms your skin with natural oil reducers and anti-inflammatory agents. Leafy greens clear skin harming impurities that lead to acne. Dark berries are full of phyto-nutrients which are good for your skin.

Adding probiotics to your diet also helps to prevent acne. Probiotic rich foods consist of yogurt, kefir, white sauerkraut, soft dark chocolate, miso soup, dill, butter or sweet pickles, tempeh, and kimchi or kombucha tea.

What not to eat:

  • Cow’s milk has been found to increase inflammation, skin oil, and hormones
  • Sugar consumption can lead to pimple breakouts
  • Greasy fast food such as hamburgers, French fries, pizza, burritos or tacos
  • High-glycemic junk foods – pretzels, chips, white rice, candy, chocolate, cake, pie, cookies, and soda pop

Studies have shown that tobacco and alcohol use has a profoundly adverse effect on the skin, including causing acne. You may consider quitting if you smoke or drink and have noticed a change in your complexion.

Reducing stress to prevent acne

The skin repairs itself best when we are at rest. If you are not sleeping well or seem to be overly stressed, it can stress out your skin too. One way to relieve stress and help you get tired enough to sleep is exercise. Working out 15 - 20 minutes a night, which can be a combination of physical as well as breathing exercise, can contribute to reducing stress and being able to sleep.

Reducing sun exposure

Though sunlight is a vital nutrient for your skin, too much sunlight can also damage your skin. UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer, but few think about how the sun increases the risk of acne. Always wear noncomedogenic sunscreen when you are going to expose yourself to the sun’s harmful rays. Doctors recommend dressing in a hat and light clothing to protect your skin.

Cleaning clothes, bed linen, washcloths and towels

You may not realize how things around you affect your complexion, especially the items that touch your face every day. Items like clothing, linens, washcloths and towels all have the potential to harbor bacteria and transfer it to your face. This can cause your face to breakout. Using the wrong detergent for your skin type can also affect your skin. It is important to wash all apparel, towels, and washcloths after every use. Many people do not wash their bedding every day. However, if you have noticed acne breakouts, it is recommended to wash your pillows and bedding regularly.

Causes of acne

Many people think of acne as being caused by hormonal changes during the teenage years. That is true, as hormones are believed to be a major contributing cause of acne, but several other factors can cause acne in all ages. Acne starts when dead skin and oils clog your pores and bacteria forms. Certain foods, medications, and vitamins can also may cause acne. Other acne-causing culprits are poor exercise habits, cosmetics, and genetics. Though our genes also play a very important role in causing acne, this is one factor that is not under our direct control.

Removing acne once it occurs

The first thing most people do when they notice a pimple, is squeeze it. Squeezing or popping pimples allows dirt from our fingers to infect the blemish even further. Avoid squeezing always. Below are some natural solutions for removing acne pimples.

A girl struggling to squeeze a pimple in front of her mirror

Apple cider vinegar and water – a natural cleansing agent that balances the PH levels of your skin. This is a powerful astringent, that helps to dry out excess oils. When used correctly, homemade apple cider facial wash can dry out a pimple within a day or two.

Honey and cinnamon facial mask – a sticky, sweet substance with antibacterial and antifungal properties. The antimicrobial properties of the cinnamon prevent bacteria growth and the honey is a natural antibiotic that works to rid your pores of acne.

Papaya facial cleanser – Mashed up raw papaya is a natural exfoliant, helping to unclog skin pores and rid your face of dead skin.

Preventing acne is not always easy with so many different skin types and the products available. A clean face and healthy diet are essential in preventing breakouts. Refraining from touching your face might be hard, but can minimize acne. Ask the Experts and consult a dermatologist doctor if you have more questions on how to prevent or manage acne.

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