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What causes my acne to flare up?

I am a 22 year old male. I have had acne all my life but recently it has been worse than usual. It is on my back, chest, face and arms. It only acts up when its the beginning of the month or towards the end of the month. I have tried Clearasil, rubbing alcohol, even toothpaste to stop it or at least dry my skin out. I do wash my face twice a day and try to avoid greasy foods. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Acne can be a very tough problem to deal with. Fortunately, we know a lot more about how acne works and thus have better treatments today than we used to. While washing your face regularly is important, you will not prevent or help your acne this way, and you may even worsen it. Rubbing alcohol, and certainly toothpaste are not good treatments. Finally, while avoiding greasy food is an excellent idea and you will be healthier because of it, your acne will not be affected. Clearasil contains benzoyl peroxide which is the first line treatment for acne. Since you have not responded to this, then you need to try the next line agents for acne treatment. Since you have not been to a doctor yet, it would probably be best for you to see a primary care physician first. He or she can take a look at your acne, gauge its severity and determine what the best initial treatment should be. Likely your doctor will recommend a topical medicine such as benzoyl peroxide plus a retinoid or this is plus an oral antibiotic. If your acne is cystic in nature or your doctor thinks that you will need help from a specialist, then you may get a referral to see a dermatologist.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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