19 Things Everyone With A Face Should Know About Acne – BuzzFeed News

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If you’ve got acne, don’t freak out — you’re not

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Each year, as many as 50
million people in the United States break out,
making it the most common skin condition in the
country. This has given dermatologists the
opportunity to really study the condition, and
because of that, they’ve gotten pretty damn good at
fighting it — something they’re really proud of,
Dr. Marie Leger, assistant professor or dermatology
at Weill Cornell Medical College and fellow of the
American Academy of
Dermatology (AAD), tells BuzzFeed Health.

There’s no denying that having acne sucks, so we
asked Leger and dermatologists Dr. Sonya Kenkare
and Dr. Ronald Davis, who are also fellows of the
AAD, to tell us the most important things to know
about acne. Here’s what they had to say.

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1. First, you
should probably know what acne even is.

First, you should probably know what acne even is.

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Leger says it’s a disorder of the pilosebaceous
unit, which is made up of the hair follicle (aka
the pore) and the oil gland that’s attached to it.
Normally, oil just exits through your pores, but
sometimes the hair and skin cells block the oil
from leaving. This creates an environment for a
bacteria called P.
to grow, causing inflammation in the
form of those annoying zits.

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2. There’s
more to acne than just whiteheads and blackheads.

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Blackheads and whiteheads are the mildest kind,
Kenkare says — they mostly show up as bumps on the
skin, only when the pore is clogged. But when
inflammation sets in — causing swelling, redness,
and pain — and the pores can’t take it anymore, it
can cause even more annoying acne lesions that
range in severity. There are papules (small pink
bumps on the skin), pustules (pus-filled bumps with
a red base), nodules (big, painful lesions that are
deeper in the skin), and cysts (deep, painful,
pus-filled lesions).

Kenkare says it’s the more severe kinds that are
most likely to cause scarring, which we’ll get into
in a bit.

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3. You’re
most likely to get acne as a teen. And it usually
gets worse before it gets better.

You're most likely to get acne as a teen. And it usually gets worse before it gets better.

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Nearly 85%
of people between ages of 12 and 24 get at least
minor acne. That’s because in your teens, your
hormones fluctuate enough to force the oil glands
to produce more oil — which can trigger acne,
Kenkare says.

You’ll probably start seeing a lot less acne as you
get older and your hormone levels start to simmer
down, though. Still, women tend
to get more acne than men throughout life,
~thanks~ to the fluctuating hormones that come with

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4. Acne
problems tend to run in the family.

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While there’s no foolproof way to predict who will
get acne, Davis says you’re more likely to have it
if someone in your family does (like your mom, dad,
or siblings). “But it’s not absolute,” he says.
This also helps dermatologists know what to expect
when it comes to treating you.

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5. Acne can
affect anyone with any type of skin.

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If you’ve heard that people with oily skin get acne
more often, that might not be the case. “I have
people with oily skin that don’t break out at all,
and other people with dry skin who break out
severely,” Davis says. What it really comes down to
is whether you’re prone to acne at all, he says.
And if you are, then having oily skin could just
make everything worse.

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6. Your bacne
isn’t actually much different from the acne on your

Your bacne isn't actually much different from the acne on your face.

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Davis says acne is just as likely to show up on
your back or chest as it is on your face. However,
if you see that your back is full of fat pimples
while your face only gets blackheads, it could be
because you’re wearing clothes that won’t let your
body breathe — and breathe, it MUST!

“[The clothes] physically block the pores and help
in trapping the dead skin cells, and when someone
is already prone to developing acne, they’re more
likely to break out in these areas,” Kenkare says.

Here’s how to get rid of them.

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7. Certain
medications might make you break out.

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For example, certain steroid drugs, like prednisone
(for allergies). Antiepileptic meds and lithium may
also cause acne, because they can trigger the oil
glands to make extra oil, Kenkare says.

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8. Oily foods
probably won’t cause acne.

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But not washing your hands after eating them might,
Kenkare says. “A lot of people are really good
about washing their hands before they eat, but they
wash less after,” so they end up touching their
face with their hands all full of oil. And for
people who are already prone to acne, that can be
an issue.

While Leger agrees, she says that if every time you
eat a certain food, you find yourself break out,
then you should probably avoid it anyway.

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10. Stress
can definitely make you break out.

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Stress affects pretty much everyone, and it can
lead to breakouts in people who are prone to acne,
Davis says.
Studies suggest that this is because the stress
triggers a chemical reaction in the skin, which
leads to acne flaring up.

“Stress just makes everything worse,” Leger says.

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11. If you
exercise or play sports and don’t wash your face
afterward, you’re on the fast lane to Acneville.

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Bacteria on the skin live for sweat, because
it helps them grow. And this causes inflammation
that can cause you to break out, Kenkare says. If
you wear tight clothes to exercise, or a sweatband
or hat around your head, chances are you’re making
the situation worse, Leger says.

For these reasons, both Kenkare and Leger suggest
washing your face right after you work out —
actually, your whole body, if possible. You don’t
even have to bring all those bottles of cleanser
with you, just pack some face wipes, Kenkare says.
And if you can’t shower right away, Leger suggests
wearing looser, cotton clothing (as opposed to
nylon or polyester) so that at least you’re not
obnoxiously blocking your pores.

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12. For most
people, those over-the-counter acne cleansers and
spot treatments really work.

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You want to look for products with either
benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial that
kills P. acnes, or salicylic acid,
which breaks
down blackheads and whiteheads while also
sweeping away those dead skin cells. If you
exfoliate, only do so once a week in order to avoid
drying out or further irritating your skin. And
Kenkare and Leger both agree that you can skip the
toner, because it’s an extra step that’s not really
necessary (and might even irritate you).

When you wash your face, Leger suggests a gentle
face wash — one without scents or botanicals —
followed by your spot treatment, and then a
non-comedogenic moisturizer, and sunscreen if it’s
morning. If you wear makeup, of course that goes on

That said, Kenkare warns that acne products can dry
out skin, and you don’t want to overdry it or scrub
too hard, because both can lead to irritation and
more breakouts. So be gentle. Also, “don’t try too
many products at the same time — add them in
gradually,” she says, and when you do, test them on
a small area first to see if they mess up your

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13. But it
can take a few weeks (or a few months) to know if
your acne treatment is working.

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Be patient, and give your meds a chance to see if
they work. “Often, when you first start using a new
medication, it can get a little bit worse before it
gets better, and it definitely takes some time,”
Leger says, noting that it could take up to three
months to see a difference.

If you still don’t see it getting better after
that, then it might be time to see a dermatologist
about prescription-strength meds.

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14. When
you’re buying moisturizers, sunscreen, and makeup,
look out for oil-free, non-comedogenic products.

When you're buying moisturizers, sunscreen, and makeup, look out for oil-free, non-comedogenic products.

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These are products that sit on your face all damn
day. And if you’re prone to acne, the last thing
you want is an oil-based product infusing more oil
into your already clogged pores.

Kenkare says “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic” are
the buzzwords that you should look for in your
products, as they won’t clog pores or cause acne in

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15. Makeup
brushes should also be cleaned regularly.

Makeup brushes should also be cleaned regularly.

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Even if your makeup is non-comedogenic, there’s
still going to be oil and bacteria from your face
transferring over onto your brushes, and then back
again onto your face the next day. “So you’ll want
to wash them at least once a week,” Kenkare says.
(Here’s more info on
how your makeup harbors germs and how to fix

FYI: The same thing happens with your cellphone,
she says, so keep it clean or avoid long calls with
it up to your face.

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16. Do. Not.
Pop. Your. Pimples.

Do. Not. Pop. Your. Pimples.

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Seriously, stop. Don’t pick or scratch them either.
If you remember, pimples are already inflamed, so
squeezing them will only make the inflammation
worse, and you’ll end up with a bigger pimple,
Davis says. Not only that, but “you’ll end up with
more scarring and discoloration,” Kenkare says,
making it an all-around bad time.

If you have a particularly bad one that MUST be
popped, go to a dermatologist because they might
just do it for you — or they’ll give you a
medication that will make the pimple go down, Davis

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17. Acne
scars suck, but a dermatologist can help.

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The first step to reducing scarring is just getting
that acne under control. “Because by reducing
future acne, you’re reducing future scarring and
allowing current scars to start healing,” Kenkare
says. Both Davis and Leger say that if you have
really bad nodular acne, ask your dermatologist
isotretinoin because it’s the most effective
drug for treating it.

Davis says that if you have some scars and they
aren’t too bad, they might improve over time,
because “the younger the person, the better their
skin is at rejuvenating itself.” Not all scars will
fade, though. And when this is the case, Davis says
your dermatologist will know about procedures that
will take them away.

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18. Wearing
sunscreen can also help your scars fade faster.

Wearing sunscreen can also help your scars fade faster.

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Staying out of the sun helps us protect our skin
from damaging UV rays, which can irritate the skin
and cause breakouts. Scars also tend to tan faster
and darker than normal skin, and using sunscreen
helps to block that from happening so that they can
fade away, Kenkare says.

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19. But if
acne is a serious pain in your ass and nothing
seems to help, talk to your doctor.

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It seems like something everyone deals with, so it
can be tempting to just brush it off and not
consider bringing it up at a check-up. But your
doctor can refer you to a dermatologist, or they
can check for any other symptoms to see if there’s
some underlying cause, like
polycystic ovarian syndrome, which begins
around puberty for girls.

Acne sucks, but there are so many different
remedies out there right now. It may take some
trial and error to find the right one, but you’ll
get there.

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So, don’t let that acne keep you down. With this
knowledge, you’ll be on your way to clearer skin.

Go you!

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