The Do’s and Dont’s of face cleansing with acne in mind

Woman with clear skin pointing at her cheeks with a zoomed in image of herself with pimples

Acne can be so incredibly frustrating! Blackheads, whiteheads, angry red spots … and nearly always on the face. But don’t let it get you down and don’t take it out on your skin! When it comes to acne a bit of regular TLC skin care can help. Remember, acne is not caused by bad hygiene, and too much washing or scrubbing can make things worse.

Acne is more than just a simple skin infection

There’s a lot more going on when you have acne than just a simple skin infection.

  • Your skin produces more oil (sebum) – sebaceous glands (there are lots on your face as well as your neck, chest, shoulders and arms) enlarge and become more active, making your skin feel oily or greasy. Generally, the oilier the skin becomes the worse the acne is likely to be.
  • In mild acne, the oil combines with skin cells and starts to block your skin pores (hair follicles)  which then become the blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Once skin pores become blocked, bacteria normally found on the skin may start to multiply in the trapped oil.
  • Inflammation starts to occur and the red, tender spots typical of more severe acne start to appear.

And why is this all going on? Hormone changes are usually to blame – which is why adolescence is the peak time for acne.

Over-Washing Can Make Things Worse

When you have acne it’s important to look after your skin. Inflamed spots will heal eventually, but damaged skin can become discoloured and can leave permanent scars. That’s why basic skin care – done the right way – helps to keep your pores from clogging and your skin from becoming too oily. This forms an important part of acne treatment.

Here are some tips you can build in to your daily skin care routine that may help to prevent or clear up acne:

  • Be gentle, over washing and scrubbing can make things worse – causing dryness, irritation or inflammation. You don’t have to wash more often than normal, just twice a day and after sweating is fine for most people. The black colour of blackheads is not dirt so you can’t scrub it away!
  • Be kind to your skin and avoid using harsh products, such as facial scrubs, astringents and exfoliants on problem areas. Instead, wash regularly with lukewarm water and a mild soap, using your fingers rather than a washcloth – and don’t scrub!
  • If acne around your hairline is a problem – try shampooing your hair every day, particularly if its oily. It’s also a good idea to keep your hair off your face as much as possible.
  • When you have a problem with oily skin the last thing you want to do is add more – so avoid using oily or greasy cosmetics, sunscreens or hairstyling products. Look for products labelled ‘water-based’ or ‘non-comedogenic’, which are less likely to block your skin pores and cause acne or make it worse.
  • Using non-prescription (over-the-counter) anti-bacterial washes, such as pHisohex as part of your daily routine may help too – they are designed to kill bacteria and remove the dirt and oils that block skin pores.

When simple skin care and self-help remedies are not working to clear things up, or you have severe acne, it’s time to see your doctor or other healthcare provider. They can advise you on the best treatment for the severity and type of acne you have.


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