Adolescent annoyance

The teenage years have come and gone, but for some college students, one thing remains: acne. Just when you thought you had conquered those ugly blemishes, acne comes back to manifest itself on your face.

Acne can be discouraging, especially when you think you are past that stage in your life. When it comes to dealing with the harsh reality of a broken-out face, there are steps that can be taken to prevent and treat acne — but there is no cure to end breakouts forever.

The first simple step is to wash your face two times a day with a mild soap or cleanser. Check labels for dermatologist-recommended cleansers, or consult your general physician, a dermatologist or pharmacist for what is best for your individual acne needs.

“Acne is not caused by poor hygiene, and vigorous washing and scrubbing will not clear your skin,” states. “In fact, all that scrubbing can irritate your skin and make acne worse.”

“(Using) a washcloth can aggravate this situation further. Use bare hands to wash, and only wash twice a day,” states, a Web site run by a long-time acne sufferer who wishes to spread awareness to others.

Another tip that you have probably heard from your mother time after time is don’t pick at your acne. Popping those zits is not going to make them go away; in fact, it will help them spread to other parts of your face.

“People who squeeze, pinch or pick their blemishes risk developing scars or dark blotches,” states, the Web site of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Some acne treatments may make your skin more sensitive to the sun and its UV rays, so steer clear of tanning beds, and protect your skin from the sun by wearing hats and using sunscreen with a high SPF when you are in the sun for extended periods of time.

“Contrary to popular belief, tanning does not clear acne but simply masks it. Tanning also increases one’s risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers,” states.

If you have tried over-the-counter medicines and products for acne or you have tried the previous tips and your acne keeps coming back, it may be time to consult a dermatologist. Your physician can refer you to one, or you can use the American Academy of Dermatology’s Web site,, to find a dermatologist. It may take a few attempts to find one as some dermatologists accept a limited number of patients.

Dermatologists may put you on antibiotics — Tetracycline, Doxycycline or Accutane, in more severe cases — and prescription-only topical creams such as Differin and Tazorac. It’s important to follow your dermatologist’s directions when taking medications.

When beginning a treatment regimen, be patient for the results. It may be difficult to wait, and it may be tempting to add more products to your treatment if you do not get immediate results. This will not help your face but in many cases will hinder the progress of your treatments.

“Ask a dermatologist (or pharmacist) how much time is needed for each particular product to work,” states. “This way you’ll know when you can expect to see clearing and not stop using the product(s) before you see results. As a rule of thumb, it takes 6 to 8 weeks before you begin to see an improvement.”

If you dread the thought of giving up your makeup, it can be used to cover up acne, but it is best to choose your makeup wisely.

“All cosmetics, such as foundation, blush, eye shadow and moisturizers, should be oil free. Patients may find it difficult to apply foundation evenly during the first few weeks of treatment because the skin may be red or scaly, particularly with the use of topical tretinoin or benzoyl peroxide,” the NIAMS Web site stated.

“Products that are labeled as non-comedogenic (do not promote the formation of closed pores) should be used,” the site continued. “In some people, however, even these products may cause acne.”

When it comes to facial shaving, be gentle shaving your face just as you are when washing it.

“Men who shave and who have acne can test both electric and safety razors to see which is more comfortable,” the NIAMS Web site stated. “Men who use a safety razor should use a sharp blade and soften their beard thoroughly with soap and water before applying shaving cream. Nicking blemishes can be avoided by shaving lightly and only when necessary.”

A relief to acne sufferers may be that changing your diet and drinking plenty of water do not prevent breakouts. These practices are more beneficial to your general health than acne prevention.

“Prevailing wisdom in the dermatology community is that diet and acne are not related,” stated. “Some people absolutely insist that a certain food causes acne for them or that a specific acne diet works for them. In this case, doctors sometimes recommend that they avoid that food or follow that diet.”

Regardless of what you’ve heard, acne is not something that you have to live with. It can be treated by being gentle on your skin and with prescribed medications from dermatologists.

“The truth is, acne can be cleared up,” stated. “If the acne products you have tried haven’t worked, consider seeing a dermatologist. With the products available today, there is no reason why someone has to endure acne or get acne scars.”