Everything You Need to Know About Acne

Acne is a very common problem that affects around 40 to 50 million Americans, but there are many ways to control and prevent it. Learn about the different ways you can prevent or control acne.

What is acne?

Acne, which is medically termed “Acne Vulgaris,” is a disease of the skin that involves the oil glands at the base of the hair follicles. It usually occurs during puberty because this is when the sebaceous (oil) glands come to life. The glands are stimulated by certain hormones, like testosterone, that are produced by the adrenal glands of both sexes. Acne is not a dangerous condition, but it can cause scars on the skin. In humans, pimples usually appear on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Mostly, skin cells, hair, and sebum clump together, forming a plug that gets infected with bacteria that can cause swelling. Pimples start to develop when such a plug begins to break down.

What changes happen to the skin with acne?

Acne is directly linked to the higher production of testosterone in both males and females during their teenage and young adult years. The hormone stimulates the production of more oil, or sebum, by the oil glands. The extra oil can then cause clogging of the pores and result in acne. Bacteria can also thrive in the mixture, which can leak into nearby tissues, causing redness, swelling, and pus, eventually leading to pimples.

What You Can Do To Prevent Acne

It is not easy to completely prevent acne, but there are proven ways you can avoid it and prevent it from getting worse.

Keep Your Face Clean

Regardless of whether you have acne or not, it is important to keep face clean by washing it twice a day. This will remove impurities, extra oil and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. It is not recommended to wash more than two times a day since this can cause skin dryness and, in some cases, even trigger acne. Use warm water and a mild facial cleanser suitable for your skin type. Never use harsh soap that can promote irritation.


Many products designed for treating acne contain active ingredients that dry the skin. Thus, it is important to use a moisturizer according to your skin type. This will prevent dryness and peeling of the skin. Make sure the formula is non-comedogenic, which means it is not known to cause acne. There are specific formulations of the right moisturizers for every skin types (dry, oily and combination).

Use Makeup Carefully

If you are suffering from a major breakout, do not wear foundation, blush or powder that can further irritate the skin and worsen the acne. If you can’t avoid wearing makeup, just remember that you need to wash it off at the end of the day. If possible, use oil-free cosmetics that are free of dyes and other potentially harmful chemicals. Also, make sure that it is non-comedogenic. Check the ingredients carefully before purchasing.

Be Careful with Hair Products

Oils, fragrances and other chemicals in gels and other hair products can reach the skin and trigger breakouts by blocking the pores of the skin and causing irritation. Use a gentle shampoo followed by a conditioner according to your hair type when washing your hair. Remember that oily hair can add to the oiliness of the face so wash your hair regularly, especially during breakouts. If you have long hair, keep it pulled away from your face.

Avoid Touching Your Face

One simple rule of thumb to prevent breakouts is to keep your hands away from your face. The hands can collect bacteria and other breakout-causing matter. If you have pimples, never pick them, which can cause infection and lead to scarring.

Minimize Sun Exposure

The UV rays of the sun can promote inflammation and redness of the skin. There are also acne medications that can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Avoid unprotected sun exposure, especially between 10 AM and 3 p.m. When wearing sunscreen, make sure it is labeled non-comedogenic to prevent pimples.

Is using an acne cream a good idea?

There are many over-the-counter and prescription formulations designed to fight acne quickly. These products contain active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid that kill bacteria in the skin and dry it. Of course, you need to make sure that the product you purchase contains proven active ingredients and is free of potentially harmful ingredients. If you have very sensitive skin, it would be good to refer a skin care professional for the best anti-acne formulation.


Acne is a very common skin condition that affects about 75% of people between the ages of 11 and 30. In fact, according to a study by Brown University, about 17 million Americans are estimated to suffer from acne at one time. Fortunately, there are different ways you can prevent breakouts. If these do not work, it would be best to consult a dermatologist for the appropriate acne treatment.