There are many ways to prevent acne, including good hygiene habits, avoiding oil-containing cosmetics, and in some instances, medication.
Acne is a common skin disorder that can cause pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, pustules and inflamed cysts.
In this article, we detail 15 ways to prevent acne and pimples and tips for managing breakouts when they occur.
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Acne occurs when pores in the skin become blocked by oil, dead skin, and other substances. Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria can infect these blocked pores, causing inflammation.
Multiple factors can contribute to the development of acne, including Trusted Source:
- Hormonal changes
- Certain medications
There are many different things that can cause acne – from genetics to excess sunlight to tight-fitting clothing. However, many treatment and prevention methods are similar, regardless of the cause. The following tips can help to protect against acne and reduce the number of breakouts.
If you’re trying to figure out what’s causing your acne, it might be helpful to talk to a doctor or dermatologist. They can help identify which factor (or combination of factors) is causing your breakouts. Once you know what’s causing your acne, you can try some of the following tips to help prevent and treat it:
- Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser
- Keep your hair clean and away from your face
- Avoid touching or picking at your skin
- Use oil-free makeup and sunscreen
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing
- Talk to your doctor about medications that might help
10 ways to prevent acne and pimples
There are many things you can do to help prevent pimples and acne, including:
- Washing your face twice a day, morning and night
- Avoiding touching your face
- Using oil-free skincare products
- Exfoliating regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
Wash the face twice daily
Although acne is not usually the result of a dirty face, it is important to keep the skin clean by washing regularly and after sweating. Many people prefer to use a mild cleanser and warm water. Applying an oil-free moisturizer after washing can keep the skin from becoming too dry. However, over-washing of the face can dry the skin out, causing oil overproduction. This can result in more acne.
Refrain from harsh scrubbing
People often think that scrubbing their skin with harsh materials will help clear up their acne, but this usually has the opposite effect. Harsh scrubbing can irritate the skin and make inflammation worse, which leads to more breakouts. To prevent pimples, it’s important to cleanse the face gently with a soft brush or clean hands. Look for a cleanser that is designed for people with acne-prone skin.
Keep hair clean
Excess oil in the hair can travel to the skin and exacerbate acne. Washing the hair regularly can help prevent acne from developing.
Additionally, haircare products that contain oil can cause pimples on the head and hairline. Avoiding these products can lower the risk of developing pimples.
Refrain from popping or picking at pimples
It may be tempting to pop a pimple, but it’s not worth the risk of causing inflammation and scarring.
To reduce the appearance of blemishes, use a topical treatment instead. They may take some time to work, but they can also prevent new pimples from forming.
Apply topical treatments
There are a number of over-the-counter treatments – in the form of creams, serums, or gels – which can help to reduce or prevent breakouts, especially when they’re targeting specific areas. Some of the most common problem areas include:
- the chin
- the nose
- the forehead
OTC treatments usually contain either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide – though these ingredients aren’t as strong as what you could get with a prescription, they can still be helpful in keeping mild acne at bay and mitigating breakouts.
Consider topical retinoids
Topical retinoids are acne-fighting products that contain medicine derived from vitamin A. Dermatologists often prescribe them to manage and prevent acne breakouts. These treatments work by shedding and producing new skin cells faster, which helps to reduce pore-clogging.
Most topical retinoids are only available with a prescription from a doctor, including tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova) and tazarotene (Tazorac). However, some topical retinoids, such as adapalene (Differin), are available over the counter without a prescription.
Talk to a dermatologist about antibiotics
Topical antibiotics are a common treatment for an overgrowth of P. acne bacteria on the skin. Erythromycin and clindamycin, which are available by prescription, are two examples of antibiotics that can treat this type of acne.
However, doctors usually prescribe these antibiotics in combination with benzoyl peroxide to reduce the risk of developing resistant bacteria, as antibiotic treatments alone can cause bacteria to become resistant to treatment.
Inflammatory acne is characterized by its discolored, irritated appearance and can also be painful.
Talk to a doctor about hormone pills
In cases of hormonal acne affecting females, birth control pills can help prevent breakouts by regulating the hormones that may make acne worse.
However, these pills come with certain risks, so it is important to review the benefits and side effects with a doctor before deciding if this is the right course of action.
Spironolactone, a medication used to treat high blood pressure, may also help in cases of severe female hormonal acne. However, spironolactone has many possible side effects, so again, it is best to speak with a doctor to see if this is the right option for you. Doctors do not recommend either of these medications for use by males.
Cut back on foods linked to acne
Although doctors are not certain of the connection between foods and acne, a growing body of researchTrusted Source suggests that some foods may trigger acne in certain patients.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, foods with a high glycemic index may increase the risk of developing acne or make acne worse. Examples of these potentially problematic foods include sugary items and those high in carbohydrates. Some examples include:
Cutting back on dairy products, especially skim milk, may help reduce a person’s risk of developing acne. A person may want to try eliminating a particular food group from their diet to see if their skin improves.
Wear sunscreen when going outdoors
The sun can be damaging to your skin, and sunburn can make acne worse. But you can protect your skin by using sunscreen. Make sure to choose a sunscreen that is noncomedogenic and safe for use on your face.
There are a few things you can do to help reduce acne like cleaning your skin regularly and gently, being careful about the skin care products you use, and avoiding contact with oil. If after trying these things for 6 to 8 weeks you don’t see any improvement, it might be time to see a dermatologist for more help.