Increased hormonal activity is the root cause of acne. This in turn causes excess oil production in the skin’s sebaceous glands. It is a sad fact that the areas most affected by acne are those that are almost constantly visible. Most acne prevention and control treatments contain specific compounds to address the problem. One of these is benzoyl peroxide (sometimes in combination with the antibiotic erythromycin). The popular Clearasil contains this agent.

Most affected teenagers address acne with manic scrubbing and dieting. They do this because of a mistaken assumption that the problem is only related to poor hygiene or improper nutrition. Avoiding fat-laden junk foods is definitely a step in the right direction for other health-related reasons. However, it will do little to prevent acne. Skin hygiene is important, and acne can be prevented to a certain extent by increased and regular cleansing. However, one tends to go overboard and resort to using extreme measures like a face wash of strong toothpaste and other harsh compounds. This will only aggravate the problem by encouraging increased compensatory oil production in the skin.

The belief that astringents discourage excess oil secretion is nothing but a myth. Astringents do take care of superficial oils. However, they cause the skin to contract. This clogs pores and causes long-term aggravation for short-term cosmetic benefits. The best course of action is using a mild cleansing agent to wash down the entire face (not just the fabled T-zone or only acne-affected areas) and regular shampooing of hair.

Oily hair causes facial oiliness. This is especially true for those who sport chin/shoulder-length hair. Most importantly, picking at or rubbing of acne blemishes is strictly contraindicated. Doing this can lead to permanent scarring and skin discoloration that will require measures like laser treatment to correct later on. Excessive exposure to sunlight is also a definite no-no - especially if one is using a compound like tretinoin, which increases the skin’s photosensitivity. Tanning lamps can cause the same harmful effect. Females affected with acne must rigorously scan the contents of their cosmetics before using them - only those without an oily base and with the tag ‘non-comedogenic’ (non-obstructing to skin pores) on the label should be used. It is also important to avoid sports headgear such as headbands and cycling helmets. Many fashion accessories that cover part of the facial skin can cause constriction or irritation too.
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