First let me say a little about what causes acne
. Scientists believe that there are four major factors that lead to acne: 1) increased production of a protein on the skin called keratin which leads plugging of follicles and the creation of "whiteheads"; 2) increased production of an oily substance called sebum that helps to plug the follicles; 3) breakage of the whiteheads which causes inflammation of the skin; 4) and finally a bacteria called p. acnes that lives on the skin and helps to worsen the inflammation. There are several important ways to help limit the formation of clogged pores and keep your skin healthy. First, it is important to use appropriate skin care techniques. Wash your face gently and with just your fingertips or hands. Scrubbing your face hard can only make things worse by increasing irritation and inflammation. There are many facial cleansers on the market that are designed especially for acne, and the most common ones contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. However, these can frequently cause dry skin. You can try products such as Cetaphil, Eucerin, or Basis skin cleansers which are designed to be much more gentle on skin. These products can help reduce irritation and inflammation and consequently help to prevent formation of clogged pores. Using these facial cleansers primarily and then substituting in ones containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid once a day or every other day is a good strategy if you have dry skin when just using benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If your acne continues despite these treatments there are many products that a physician can prescribe to help decrease acne. In addition to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, topical retinoids like adapalene or tretinoin and topical antibiotics like clindamycin or erythromycin are frequently used as first line choices. For women who are of the appropriate age, oral contraceptive pills have also been shown to be helpful. If these options are not enough there are still other options. A primary care physician
or a dermatologist
can discuss the best ways to help improve your skin and help you find products that are right for you.