Acne is the most common skin condition in the US, affecting about 50 million people. Roughly 85 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 24 experience it in some form, and it can have profound social and psychological effects.
Genetics are a leading factor, according to Rye Brook dermatologist Dale Abadir, MD. Over-moisturizing of the skin may also contribute to acne, as can hormone levels, which is why it often appears at puberty. In addition, sweating can cause flare-ups, especially during seasonal transitions to hotter weather.
While she maintains that the impact of stress and diet are still inconclusive, Abadir urges her patients to “maintain a healthy diet and to avoid fast food.”
She also advises avoiding harsh soaps, oil-based moisturizers or over-washing your skin. This can strip the oil, only to cause an “oily rebound.” Instead, Abadir advises patients to “use a milder cleanser, so you will not feel the need to over-moisturize.”
Look for over-the-counter treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide, which suppresses oil production and kills bacteria, as well as glycolic acid and salicylic acid.
Ultimately, acne is a skin infection, so more severe outbreaks can benefit from a course of prescription antibiotics, according to Abadir. Retinoids are another option, and, for women, birth-control pills can help regulate hormones related to acne. Isotretinoin, taken under a doctor’s supervision, can help resolve the most severe cases.