Seven Steps for Clearer, Acne-Free Skin

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Inflammation, hormones, stress, diet and neglecting your normal skin-care routine are just a few factors that contribute to breakouts. But with the holidays a few days away, it’s not the cause that’s important—it’s the solution. Follow these steps from Sycamore, IL dermatologist Amanda Friedrichs, MD to start off your new year with a clean slate and a clear complexion.

1. Wash twice a day and after sweating. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, can make acne worse, so wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.

2. Use your fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge or anything else can irritate the skin. Do not use skin care products that irritate the skin, which may include astringents, toners, and exfoliants. Dry, red skin makes acne appear worse.  “It’s very common for patients with acne to scrub their skin and to use harsh products, yet doing so often makes acne worse,” says Dr. Friedrichs. “In order for acne to improve, people with acne must be gentle when touching their skin and use gentle products, such as those that are alcohol-free.”

3. Rinse with lukewarm water.

4. Shampoo regularly. If you have oily hair, shampoo daily.

5. Let your skin heal naturally. If you pick, pop or squeeze your acne, your skin will take longer to clear and you increase your risk of getting acne scars.

6. Keep your hands off your face. Touching your skin throughout the day can cause flare-ups.

7. Stay out of the sun and tanning beds. Tanning damages your skin. In addition, some acne medications make the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, which you get from both the sun and indoor tanning devices. It also increases your risk of melanoma. 

"Make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist if your acne makes you shy or embarrassed, the products you've tried haven't worked, or your acne is leaving scars or darkening your skin," says Dr. Friedrichs. "Today, virtually every case of acne can be successfully treated."

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