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Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Shannon, MD, PhD on May 25, 2021
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is especially true when it comes to acne. While there are a number of products out there for shortening the length of breakouts, the best possible breakout is the one that never happens in the first place. Acne, even when treated, can damage the skin and leave acne scars — better to avoid it in the first place. Here’s how you can do just that:
- Keep your skin clean.
The number one precipitating factor for acne development is clogged pores. While some pores can get clogged naturally, they can also get stuffed with material such as dead skin cells, dirt, or sweat. Cleaning the parts of your skin that are prone to acne regularly and gently with water and a mild cleanser can prevent this kind of buildup from happening. Don’t go too hard, though: over-scrubbing or scrubbing too vigorously can irritate the skin and cause inflammation, which makes acne more likely to develop.
Dry skin is easily irritated, making it prime real estate for acne. Moisturizers keep your skin from getting too dry, but be sure to know the ingredients of the product you’re using. Always opt for oil-free moisturizers, as ones that contain oil could constrict the skin and do more harm than good. A good rule of thumb is to look for a moisturizer that is labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means it does not clog pores.
- Know your skin type.
Your skin type is completely unlike anyone else’s, but there are a few broad skin types that can have an impact on where and how acne develops on your body. Those with oily skin, for example, need to take extra care in preventing oils from pooling up on parts of their face. Products that work for those with balanced skin may not work for those with sensitive skin and vice versa. Once you know your skin type, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re up against.
- Use an antibacterial topical treatment.
Another major factor in the development of acne is bacteria. While all pores contain a number of different bacteria within them, too much of that bacteria can cause acne to form. Over-the-counter topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide help kill excess bacteria in and around your pores, decreasing the overall likelihood of uninhibited growth. If over-the-counter treatments aren’t enough, a dermatologist may prescribe prescription-strength topical antibiotics to help reduce your acne.
- Monitor your diet.
Different foods may trigger acne breakouts in different people, so there’s no specific thing to avoid here. While some find that dairy or foods high in sugar cause acne for them, the same may not be true for you. Keep close track of your diet to see if acne development follows the consumption of certain foods — cutting out those foods may help significantly.
- Stay active.
An active body is one that’s ready to fight whatever comes its way. Staying active increases blood flow, lowers stress, and clears up your pores through sweating — all of which prevent acne development. Always be sure to wash thoroughly after you exercise, as letting your sweat dry and collect on your skin after a workout can just end up causing more pimples to form.
- Wear sunscreen.
Sunburned skin is heavily irritated by nature, and irritated skin is prime for acne development. Sunscreen helps keep your skin healthy, even when you’re being exposed to long hours of sunlight. Just be sure to use sunscreen that’s noncomedogenic — this ensures that the product itself won’t clog your pores.
- Drink water.
It’s easy to confuse dry skin for dehydrated skin, but the two actually have very little in common. Whereas dry skin is rough and patchy, a dehydrated body can send the sebum production in your pores into overtime, causing your skin to become oily and more prone to pimples. Drinking water throughout the day prevents this from happening. (Note: Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water, as thirst is a sign you are already dehydrated. Keep a big bottle of water within reach and sip from it regularly).
- Lower stress levels.
Lowering stress is always easier said than done, but it’s crucial to preventing acne all the same. Studies have shown that a stressed person is more likely to produce high amounts of oil on their skin, leading to acne. Take a breather, go outside, and find time to relax if you want to keep the chances of acne low.
If you’re feeling lost when it comes to your acne, we’re here to help. Get in touch with one of our medical professionals today to learn more about what treatment options are out there for you.