Exercise – Keeping in shape can help fight acne by fighting off negative stress levels that can come from negative self-esteem and depression. However, some safeguards need to be in place to ward off acne that can result from your workout routines. First watch which products you use on your body because you'll most likely be sweating. With any sunscreen's for outdoor workout activities and any make-up or other cosmetics, check for “noncomedogenic” and “oil-free” on the labels to help prevent pore clogging. And when your workout is finished, wash the products off as soon as possible, especially if you'll be going into a steam room or sauna where your pores will be opening up more. You don't want these lotions and other cosmetics getting into your pores and clogging them up, resulting in blemishes.
Watch what you put on your body with regards to clothing, sports gear and equipment. For example, tight lycra and nylon exercise outfits might look great in the movies and magazine models, but if you are susceptible to acne problems, avoid these synthetic fabrics that tend to trap in body moisture and heat resulting in a bacteria frenzy. Instead, choose loose clothing made of cotton or natural blends to allow more air to get to your skin. And when you’re finished with your workout, get out of clothing wet from perspiration or water sports. Shower and change into dry, clean clothing. And keep your sports gear and equipment clean, too. Dirty headgear, for instance, can irritate forehead areas prone to acne problems. So toss headbands into the washing machine after workout sessions.
Tip: when cleaning your body after a workout, no need to scrub with force and irritate skin. If possible, wash with medicated soap (check for “exfoliant” on the label) or medicated wipes from your athletic bag where showers aren't available.
Tip: When drying with a towel, even if it's during your workout to erase sweat, always blot instead of rub. That way you avoid grinding excess dead skin, dirt, sweat and other chemicals into your pores and risking pore-clogging and skin irritation.
Cosmetics – To avoid pore-clogging and skin irritations similar to acne and can contribute to acne, use products labeled “noncomedogenic” or “oil-free.” Shimmering facial colors can contain a flaky mineral called mica that can cause skin irritations and clog pores. Other additives in coloring that can cause similar reactions are coal tar derivatives, carmine and heavy cream in blushes. More preventative measures include using a lip gloss promoting a matte finish instead of a high gloss for less pore-clogging; note the more the shine, the more then comedogenic content and the more the pores can clog.
Beware eye creams can contain heavier concentrations of moisturizers than regular creams and lotions, meaning they have greater potential to clog pores in the surrounding facial areas. Additionally use caution with hair styling products that contain oils, alcohol and adhesives that should be kept away from skin and from seeping into pores along with perspiration during workouts; especially watch hair gels and mousses so they don't cause clogging around your hairline. Use care when choosing fragrance and scented cosmetics, and opt for hypo-allergenic or “fragrance-free” versions where possible to avoid allergic reactions and skin irritations (a sampling 3-day test behind an ear is recommended).
Tip: Thoroughly clean your face and any other areas where cosmetics are applied daily, especially if used when combined with exercising or other activities that promote sweating, where there is the opportunity for the chemicals to be absorbed or soaked up into your pores.
Shaving – Shaving for both genders is an excellent way of exfoliating or removing dead skin to help with the prevention and spreading of acne instead of leaving the remains to clog pores. And for some light acne cases already in process, shaving can help rid whiteheads and blackheads from the face. A word of caution: for areas with infection or high inflammatory activity (redness, sensitive, open acne, sores, etc.), do not shave. Or at the very least, use a shaving cream for sensitive skin. For best results with regular shaving, follow these procedures:
Steer away from shaving creams that are oily and choose one for sensitive skin if available. Then moisten facial or other hair with warm water, apply the shaving cream and lather well. Shave with a sharp (not dull) blade. Note when shaving, use gentle swipes instead of heavy pressure ones that can irritate acne-prone areas. And go with the flow or “grain;” in other words, adapt to downward, lateral, angular or upward swipes, for a smoother shave with less nicks and irritating backward motions. Experiment with different razors, both electric and disposable, with single- double- or triple-edged (mach III) heads to see which works best for you. And try shaving in a warm shower for better results.
For after shaving applications, try toning to stop bacteria dead in its tracks before it gets into your open follicles. Try antibiotic gel or lotion, witch hazel, Dalacin T, a mild alcohol-free toner, Benzoyl Peroxide in gel form and Salicylic Acid in a gel.
Shaving Tip: Electric razors may not shave as close to the skin; however, they help with the prevention of acne and other skin breakout's and flare-ups better.
Shaving Tip: If a non-electric razor is your choice, a single-edged blade is actually better. Why? Because double- and triple-edged blades grab hair follicles and pull them out from below the epidermis. And in the process, your skin “heals itself” by closing over these holes, making it difficult for future hair follicles to grow outward – creating inflammation in the tight areas.
Diet – Studies show diet does not play a role in either the cause or the treatment of acne. However, what is recommended for acne preventative care is what is best for your body and best for your skin, especially since your skin is the largest organ of your body. So here are healthy vitamins, minerals and other supplements known and recommended to prevent and help conquer acne breakout's:
Hormones – Hormones or lack of, during later years and especially for women, can play a role in acne flare-ups and prevention. One recent study showed about 50 percent of women have acne, referred to as hormonal acne, problems during the week before their menstruation. Treatment options can include topical retinoids, oral antibiotics and Benzoyl Peroxide for teen years. On into adult years, some acne aids include oral contraceptives or hormonal birth control pills and hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for women, combined with systemic or topical treatments, prescription or over-the-counter products and medications, and antibiotics for both sexes.
Hygiene – A healthy skin regimen should include no harsh scrubbing or over-washing, because this can cause possible skin irritation or possible over production of oil to replace what's washed off, clogging pores in the process. Products with gentle exfoliation ingredients are OK to use; i.e. not scratchy nut or fruit shell pieces that can tear skin. And skip alcohol products when possible; these can take off the top layer of your skin and cause your glands to product more oil, clogging pores in the process.
If you do spot acne-troubled areas, do NOT mess with them. Remember these are already weeks in the making, and squeezing or picking blemishes can force the infected area to regress back inside, further troubling the region and possibly leave a scar. If necessary, seek help from a dermatologist for alternative treatments.
About the Author
Kim Standerline is a registered nurse working for a large hospital Trust in the UK. Her websites include www.nursing-hints.com, www.backpain-free.com and www.acne-and-you.com