Last Updated on August 7th, 2019
No single acne solution, even the best acne solution, gets rid of all of your blemishes in just a few days or even in a few weeks. Getting rid of blemishes on acne-prone skin almost always takes a combination of treatments, best applied in a systematic way1. Some acne solutions, however, offer outstanding results on certain types of skin. Matching your skin type to your acne solution is the key to success.
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Like other forms of acne, baby acne results from the stimulation of skin oil production by testosterone. In the weeks just before the baby is born, the mother’s body sends extra testosterone to the fetus to help the lungs mature. This is essential for the baby to be able to breathe after he or she is born, but it also causes about 20% of babies to break out in acne, usually about a month after they are born.
The excess testosterone that causes acne in infants “wears off” by the time the baby is six months old. In the meantime, it’s important to avoid irritating the skin. When pores are irritated, the skin cells in the lining tend to shed into the pore and block the flow of oil to the surface of the skin. Keeping pores open is essential for baby to overcome acne—but let the natural growth of the baby’s skin do all the work. Only the mildest soap and warm water are needed to keep baby clean2.
Don’t try to use any products that might treat acne in an older child, teen, or adult. It also helps to keep baby clean in general, since dirt and debris anywhere on the baby’s body quickly finds its way to the baby’s face.
When children who have not yet reached puberty get acne, the culprit usually is excessive production of a chemical called DHEA, which is the building block for stress hormones. Don’t subject children to complicated acne treatment programs because these can have adverse side effects3. Just make sure they rinse their skin with mild soap and water, getting all the soap off the skin, and toweling dry with a clean towel. It also helps to eliminated caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks that increase the production of inflammatory compounds in the skin.
Nearly everyone who has back acne also gets acne on the face, and the treatment is the same, except that the skin on the back tolerates stronger treatments than can be used on the face. Many people get their best results from a 5% benzoyl peroxide foam that is applied to the back in the shower. The foam is allowed to work on the skin of the back for 5 minutes before it is rinsed away. Benzoyl peroxide washes usually don’t work because they don’t stay on the back long enough to have a healing effect. If you do sweaty work or you work up a sweat when you work out, be sure to take a shower4. The sooner you rinse sweat off your back the less likely it is to irritate your skin and trigger an outbreak of back acne.
People who have fair skin and who tend to get tiny pimples on the nose and across the cheeks often have a mild or subclinical case of a form of acne called rosacea. In this form of acne, the problem really is not clogged pores. It’s broken blood vessels. The capillaries at the basal layer of the skin tend to break and leak, with red or purple coloration showing through the layers of skin above them.
The key to treating this kind of acne is to avoid irritating blood vessels. Avoid anything that heats the skin and expands blood vessels, whether it’s “warming” acne products containing the ingredient zeolyte, hot coffee, spiced food, or coming in from the cold into an overheated room. Every time you stress the capillaries in the skin, you make them more prone to future outbreaks. You can rebuild the strength of your skin by regular use of products that contain an ingredient called azelaic acid, which has antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties5, and by eating weekly servings of blueberries, blackberries, and barley.
People who tend to get blackheads on oily skin, oddly enough, tend to have more blemishes where the skin tends to dry out. Even though pores may make too much oil, drying the skin around the pores stops the drainage of oil and leads to the formation of blackheads. The most problematic areas for blackheads on oily skin usually appear on the sides of the face, on the jawline, and at the hair line.
The key to treating blackhead-prone oily skin is to apply small amounts of a water-based or even an oil-in-water moisturizer immediately after cleansing and drying the skin every morning. It’s important to avoid products that contain alcohol, because these can cause skin irritation6, as well as skin flaking that can clog pores.
Many women ask their doctors about different brands of the Pill for controlling premenstrual acne. If you do not want to use the Pill, there is another approach. Acne breaks out as progesterone levels rise and core body temperature rises during the second half of the menstrual cycle. The skin heals when progesterone levels fall, estrogen levels rise, and core body temperature falls during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Lowering body temperature can help prevent acne breakouts associated with menstruation.
How can women lower their body temperatures? It helps to keep living spaces cool and comfortable. Hot living quarters aggravate acne. It also helps to avoid hot beverages. A cup of coffee in the morning, when body temperatures are lowest, may be OK, but it is not a good idea to sip any kind of hot beverage all day long.
It also helps to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Core body temperature falls as women sleep, especially if they are able to get to sleep before midnight. Getting about seven hours of sleep is optimal for interrupting the metabolic processes that cause increased hormonal secretion7 and production of oil in the skin.
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