As adolescence begins the skin naturally starts to make more oil. The oil mixes with skin cells. Together they can plug the hair follicles in the skin, causing comedones, more commonly referred to as pimples, blackheads or whiteheads. Bacteria can also be trapped in this mixture and contribute to the problem. Blackhead is the common term for open comedones that extend above the skin surface. Those that do not extend above the skin are known as closed comedones or whiteheads. Using products with oil in them may actually make acne and oil production worse.
Acne does not form because you aren’t clean; there is no way to scrub acne away. However, some things make acne worse. Hair gels and sprays, oil-based products such as make-up, suntan lotion, and hair products such as pomade can all cause problems. Hard scrubbing of the skin, using skin products that are too harsh, and overexposure to sun may do so as well.
Acne is not caused by foods. Chocolate, pizza, and soda were once thought to cause acne, but there is no evidence to support that belief. Squeezing acne blemishes can also make them worse. It forces bacteria onto the skin, spreading instead of treating and getting rid of it. So, what can help?
You may need to wash your face twice a day to help decrease the amount of oil on the skin. It is okay to wash your face with mild soap and water or a cleanser.
Another way to limit oil production is to use cosmetics labeled non-comedogenic and oil-free. Non-comedogenic means that it is less likely to clog pores. Use products that are not alcohol-based. Alcohol tends to dry the skin out. If you have dry skin, start out with creams; those with oily skin should try water-based gel products.
If limiting oil products and washing the face more frequently does not help, there are many options that come in gels, lotions, creams, soaps and pads. Most commonly they contain benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol or salicylic acid. Some of these products may be kept behind the pharmacy counter and some products require a prescription from your doctor.
Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which products contain these ingredients. Check the label to make sure what the medications are, and read the directions carefully. It may take four to eight weeks to see an improvement. Some people may develop skin irritation, burning, or redness while using these products. If this happens to you, stop using the product. If effects are severe, consult with a doctor.
If your acne does not respond to any of these treatments, it is best to see your doctor.
It can be tempting to try covering up acne with foundation or concealer. Even though a foundation is labeled non-comedogenic, it can cause comedones or acne to form. Use these products with care and stop using them if acne appears or gets worse. Look for products that cover but are oil free. Some may have acne-fighting ingredients in them like salicylic acid. Remove make-up with a cleanser or gentle soap every time it is used. This will help limit acne and bacteria.
Remembering cosmetic safety rules can help you avoid injury or infection. Never apply make-up while driving! Even as a passenger, never apply make-up while in a moving vehicle. If you bump your eye it is possible to damage the eye or introduce bacteria into it.
Since mascara can harbour bacteria, it is best to use mascara for three months only and then buy a new one. Never share make-up. While trying on or testing make-up, use a disposable applicator and ask that the container opening be cleaned with alcohol. Never add liquid to a product; this can introduce bacteria. Throw make-up away if it changes colour or odour. Do not use make-up if you have an eye infection. Keep make-up out of the sun, as the exposure may damage the preservatives that help to keep the product stable. Tightly close all containers. Remember that aerosol beauty products can ignite around heat, flame and smoking.
Fragrances and preservatives in cosmetics may cause allergic reactions in some people. Some products say on the label that they are hypoallergenic. This means that the manufacturer feels the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. There is no guarantee that it won’t cause a reaction.
f you have an allergic reaction to a cosmetic, stop using it and try to figure out which ingredient caused the reaction. Some signs of an allergic reaction are blotchy skin, swollen eyes, hives and itching. Lanolin and plant products are common causes of allergies. If you have what appears to be an allergic reaction that doesn’t go away after you stop using the product, consult your doctor to see if an allergy is causing your symptoms and to receive further treatment.
Remember the easy and safe ways to prevent problems. Before using any skin or body product: