The Best Acne Skincare Tips

Acne can be a difficult and annoying rite of passage for adolescents. Parents can help them through the difficult pimple years by making over-the-counter products available to them and seeking out help from a pediatrician and/or dermatologist for a prescription when warranted. In addition to these measures, Cheryl Levin, M.D., a dermatologist at Harvard Vanguard’s Chestnut Hill/West Roxbury and Kenmore practices, recommends these five tips for dealing with acne:


1. Wash face twice daily. “Washing your face twice per day is an important first step to any acne regimen and will remove debris and dead skin cells that may otherwise clog the pores,” says Levin. “Use warm (not hot) water and a mild cleanser, and avoid vigorous scrubbing of the skin. Also, be sure to wash your face immediately after exercise.”

2. Moisturize. Acne treatments can be harsh on the skin, so moisturizing is an essential element of treating acne. Levin recommends, “Be sure to use a moisturizer that is labeled non-comedogenic, or non-acne producing. It is generally best to apply the moisturizer after washing the skin and applying your acne medication.”

3. Limit the use of makeup. While it may be tempting to cover up your acne with makeup, this can clog pores and can worsen acne. “If you must use makeup, try to limit the amount and choose oil-free products,” suggests Levin. Be certain to wash off all makeup at the end of the day.

4. Keep hair clean and away from face. “Wash hair regularly and tie it back if necessary,” advises Levin. Greasy hair, perhaps from too much hair product or infrequent showering, can clog pores and worsen acne.

5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. “Stress can make acne worse, so it is important to reduce stress levels to the best of your ability,” Levin says. “Ask for help from family members and friends. While chocolate and greasy foods have never been proven to cause acne, eating fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly will help maintain a healthy body and healthy skin.”


Popping Pimples Discouraged

While it may be tempting for kids to stand in front of a mirror and pop pimples, Tom Cooper, M.D., a dermatologist with Dedham Medical Associates in Dedham, says that “will just make the acne look worse. Popping the occasional overripe pimple that is ready to explode is OK, but other than that, it’s not a good idea.”

Cooper discourages popping, even in the context of facials. “If someone has visible blackheads, you could maybe have them expressed,” he says, but other than that, he doesn’t advise it. He adds that if a person has a pimple that’s bothersome and it is pre-prom, a dermatologist can inject it with cortisone or, for an acne cyst, can open it and drain it.


Mood Issues

While Cooper admits dermatologists don’t typically immerse themselves in some of the mood issues of kids, he says, “We don’t just base our treatment on how bad the acne is, but on how it is impacting their pyscho/social wellbeing. If an individual is bothered by acne to a significant degree, we might ratchet up the aggressiveness of our treatment. If a kid is depressed, we are more aggressive.”

Cooper notes that sometimes a parent is concerned about the acne, while the child might be aloof and uninterested. He usually bases his care on how bothered the patient is. But in some cases, he says, a parent needs to step in, even if the child isn’t motivated, especially if it looks like there’s going to be scarring. “If it’s very severe and the kid doesn’t want to do something, the parents should,” he says.


Using these tips, you can help your child formulate a daily skin care regimen and help them manage acne breakouts. 

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04 Mar 2014

By Mary Alice Cookson