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Although many consider acne to be a skin problem that exclusively affects teens, in fact, people of any age can suffer from acne. Similarly, just as acne can affect people of any age, so too can it affect various areas of the body. The back, the arms and the chest are all just as susceptible to developing acne.

While acne isn’t a skin condition that threatens our overall health, in serious cases, it can be extremely disfiguring, affecting our emotional and psychological health. As a result, getting the proper treatment for acne and learning how to take care of acneic skin is essential to minimizing breakouts and preventing acne from worsening.

Acne Causes and Symptoms

While eating greasy, fried foods has yet to be proven to cause acne, the following are known causes of this skin problem:

  • Bacterial infections: The presence of certain bacteria on the skin can cause that area of skin to become red and inflamed. If the bacteria infects the hair follicles or oil glands, acne can erupt.
  • Clogged pores: When skin cells don’t slough off fast enough or dirt becomes lodged in the pores, the pores will become clogged, leading to the development of pimples, zits and other types of acne.
  • Genetic history: Those with a family history of severe acne are more likely to develop acne than those without one.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormones known as androgens cause the oil (sebaceous) glands to become bigger and to produce more oil. As a result, higher levels of androgen put someone at a higher risk of developing acne.

Along with the general redness, inflammation and tenderness acne causes, other symptoms of acne include:

  • blackheads
  • cysts
  • pimples
  • whiteheads
  • zits.

Preventing Acne

As with many conditions, the best way to treat acne is to learn how to prevent it altogether. Here are some tips that can help you prevent future acne breakouts:

  • Clean and moisturize your face before going to bed, especially if you wear makeup. Experts recommend getting on a skin care routine in which you clean and moisturize your face once in the morning and once at night.
  • Drink a lot of water (at least 64 oz. daily) to ensure that your skin is getting the moisture it needs.
  • Exercise regularly to improve circulation. This provides your skin with more of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
  • Shower after workouts or other vigorous activities that cause you to sweat. Cleaning the sweat off your body will prevent it from drying up and clogging your pores.
  • Use the appropriate skin care products. Your skin is either oily, sensitive, dry or combination. Use face washes and moisturizers that are made for your specific skin type to avoid over drying or over moisturizing, both of which contribute to the development of acne.

Home Care for Acne

Although prevention is the best acne treatment, at times, you will inevitably develop acne. As a result, understanding how to care for acne on your own is essential to reducing your symptoms and getting your skin healthy again.

Along with following the prevention tips, you will likely need to start using cleansers, moisturizers and topical treatments that are specifically made to fight acne. To ensure that the acne products you are getting are effective, make sure that they contain one of the following ingredients:

  • Alcohol and acetone: These substances effectively remove dirt and oil from the pores. Alcohol and acetone, usually found in toners to treat acne, can cause a tingling or slight burning sensation.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: Arguably one of the most effective substances that fight acne, benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria, removes dead skin cells and reduces the presence of oil that can clog the pores. However, its effectiveness can make it overly harsh at times, causing increased sensitivity to the sun, redness and slight inflammation of the skin.
  • Salicylic acid: By slowing down the hair follicle cells’ lifecycle, salicylic acid reduces the degree to which pores become clogged. As a result, this acne-fighting substance minimizes the occurrence of whiteheads and blackheads.
  • Sulfur and resorcinol: Together, these substances combat whiteheads and black heads, remove dead skin cells and strip the skin of excess oil. Like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur and resorcinol can be harsh, causing redness and dryness if used for extended periods.

Tips on Using Acne Treatments

Having the right products to treat your acne is only one part of the equation. For the most effective treatment, you also need to use the acne products correctly. Here are some tips on how to use acne products to reduce the presence of acne while minimizing potential side effects:

  • Cleanse the affected area once in the morning and once at night. Don’t wash acne more than this, as it will cause the skin to dry out, potentially leading to worse breakouts.
  • Don’t try to pop or drain blemishes on your own. This can cause bacteria infections that will worsen your acne.
  • Start with milder products and slowly progress to stronger ones until you find an effective product. Starting off with stronger cleansers and toners can over dry your skin and worsen the acne.
  • Use oil-free skin care products. Most acne products will visibly state that they are oil-free on their labels.
  • Use the minimum amount of a product to cover the affected area. Using too much of a product can clog the pores and worsen the acne breakout.

Results tend to take about a month to take affect. However, if your homecare for acne techniques fail to improve the condition of your skin within a few months, you may need to see a dermatologist. These skin experts can properly diagnose your treatment and prescribe stronger medications that are more effective at combating your acne.


eMedicine (updated May 18, 2006). Acne. Retrieved November 3, 2007 from the eMedicine Web site: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/acne/article_em.htm.

MayoClinic (updated October 4, 2006). Acne Products: Find a solution for your acne flare-ups. Retrieved November 3, 2007 from the MayoClinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne-products/SN00039.