A Patient's Guide to Acne
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Prevention and Maintenance

While acne often cannot be prevented entirely, there are many small lifestyle changes that can help you minimize flares, and help you live with acne when they do appear. Acne is often a chronic problem, especially for teenagers. To live with acne, you need to find out what aggravates your acne, and to best avoid these triggers. While individual triggers vary widely, below are some common triggers that often act as a factor.

Oily Cosmetics

Cosmetic products can sometimes clog pores, causing acne to flare up. In particular thick, oily creams can induce acne, especially in those with already oily skin. This can be particularly frustrating as cosmetics are sometimes used to cover up acne lesions.

  • Choose non-comedogenic products as they are less likely to cause or aggravate acne
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of greasy moisturizers around the facial area if possible
  • Try out different cosmetics as each individual is different, and react differently to various products
  • If you do use cosmetics, remember to use a cleanser to wash them away thoroughly at night, as left over make-up can be aggravating to the skin


Despite a very common perception that certain foods are associated with acne production, there is very little scientific evidence that supports this claim. The link between the two can be extremely complex, and thus, we may still discover a connection between them that can be tested. Our advice is to use your experience as a guide. If you notice a clear connection between a particular food and acne formation, you may want to restrict or reduce that particular food. While it may be coincidence, it could be a factor.

  • Currently, there is little evidence for a direct causal link between food and acne in controlled studies
  • There are many anecdotal testimonies that suggest a link
  • The relationship between food and acne formation is complex, and thus, a link may be verified in the future
  • There is great individual variability
  • If in your experience you find a link, avoid the food that seems to trigger your acne

Over Washing

Over washing is a common problem, especially for those with acne. This over-reaction likely stems from the false perception that acne is dirty, or that acne is caused by poor hygiene. Over washing can cause the skin to become dry and irritated.

  • Do not over wash the skin as it can dry out the skin and irritate it
  • Acne is not caused by dirty skin
  • Excessive washing will not remove acne

Sweating and hair

Sweating is often a factor in aggravating acne. While this is not always preventable, small considerations can help you reduce aggravation if your acne is sensitive to sweat.

  • Sweat appears to aggravate acne in a significant number of patients
  • High humidity can induce sweat and aggravate acne
  • Wearing looser fitting clothing can help reduce sweat
  • Hair can often be greasy, aggravating acne if it comes into contact with the face
  • Cutting the hair short can help to reduce contact


Stress is often reported by patients to be a factor that aggravates acne. So far, there isn't a lot of evidence that links the stress and acne in a controlled study, but this could certainly be a factor. The difficulty is that stress is a very general concept, and difficult to measure quantitatively.

  • There is little evidence of a direct link between stress and acne
  • There is plenty of anecdotal reports that suggest a link
  • Stress is best minimized as we do know that it causes many other kinds of problems

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