Facts about acne

Acne usually starts in the teen years as your body undergoes hormonal changes.  The hormone androgen increases, leading to excess oil to build up in your pores.  When the oil clogs the pore, it leads to whiteheads and blackheads.  Dead skin can also clog the pores leading to acne.  When pores become clogged a bacteria called P. Acnes that are already living in the pores begin to increase.  Other things that contribute to acne are stress, environment, genetics, and the use of certain cosmetics.  What you eat does NOT contribute to acne.

Be realistic

No matter which medication you use, it will take weeks to see a positive result.  And although your face should clear up, it may not become completely free of acne.  Also, remember that often people have acne for several years, and sometime even several decades.

Patience and habits are key to keeping your face clear!

Follow these habits to improve your skin:

  1. Try to keep the skin from becoming too oily or too dry. Remember both oil and dead flaking skin can block your pores.
  2. In the morning wash your face with Neutrogena Acne Bar or a Benzoyl Peroxide wash (there are many good brands), then apply a dual acting gel (such as Duac, Benzaclin, Benzoyl Peroxide-Erythromycin) to all areas of the face that are breaking out with acne. Make sure you apply it to all areas surrounding the acne, and not just the pimple itself.
  3. In the evening, wash your face, then apply Differin 0.1% or Tretinoin 0.1% to all areas of the face that are breaking out with acne (about 1 hour before bedtime) and leave it on overnight.
  4. If your skin becomes too dry, you may be overwashing your face, and you may need to apply a minimal amount of lotion to your skin. Cut back on the facial washing to prevent drying out your skin.  Also, if you are experiencing some irritation from the medication, you may need to apply the medication every other day, rather than every day.  Alternatively, you could apply the medication daily for one week and then rest one week without using any medication (in other words, alternate using the medication weekly).
  5. If you wear make-up, always buy non-comedomal (non-pimple forming) make-up. Try to minimize the amount of make-up you wear.  Other things that may be acne forming:  hats, hairspray, gel, and anything that occludes the skin.

The above regimen will only work if you give it time and do it consistently.  Over the first 2 months, as the medicines begin to work, your skin may actually get worse before it starts to improve.  However, if after 3-4 months of doing the above therapy you are still having problems, we can consider using a stronger medication (including certain oral medicines).  Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint!

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