Skin care is an important part of an acne treatment program. Although this is the most basic part of acne therapy, it also tends to be one of the most misunderstood. Aggressive scrubbing with abrasive loofahs and scrubs is often practiced in an attempt to scrub the skin clear. Remember, acne is not caused by poor hygiene or dirt in the pores. Aggressively scrubbing the skin can cause irritation and make acne worse. Using an exfoliating cleanser to gently remove dead skin cells and debris is the recommended way to maintain the complexion. Exfoliating washes that contain salicylic acid are commonly used twice daily, morning and evening. Proper cleansing is important to remove the dead, sticky skin cells that fill the pores in acne-prone skin.
The most important principle of caring for your acne at home is to be consistent with your treatment regimen. Noncompliance with recommended acne treatments is the number one reason that acne patients fail to improve. Keep your prescription acne medications by your bed or in the bathroom where you will remember to use them every day. Some patients find it helpful to set timers or use reminders on their cell phones so that they don’t forget to use their daily treatments on time.
The next principle of skin care is to adapt your home regimen according to your personal circumstances and care plan. For example, if your skin is getting very dry and irritated because of prescription creams, then you may need to ask your doctor if you can decrease the application frequency until your skin becomes better accustomed to the medication. Then you may be able to slowly resume your initial application frequency. Also, you may wish to discontinue harsh exfoliating cleansers that can dry and irritate your skin even further. Instead, you may need to temporarily change to a more gentle cleanser.
The next important principle of skin care is to use only noncomedogenic (acne safe) skin care products. Moisturizers should be oil free and labeled as safe for use on acne-prone skin. Cosmetics should also be selected for their proven safety for use in acne. Mineral-based cosmetics are preferred over those with liquid foundations for those who wish to use makeup. Also, avoid products labeled "natural" or "organic" unless you can be sure that they are safe for use on acne-prone skin. Many companies use these terms to induce patients to purchase their products in the belief that "natural" is always "safe." This is not always the case. Many so-called "natural" ingredients can have a variety of harmful effects on the skin, including the promotion of acne and may interfere with your doctor-recommended treatment program.
Sun protection is another important principle of home-based skin care for acne. The radiation from the sun is a well-known cause of damage to the skin. In addition to causing blotchy changes, light and dark spots, premature aging and skin cancer, it also can cause flares of acne. Sun block is especially important for those with marks or discoloration left over after a breakout since the sun will cause the marks to become darker. Also, when using prescription creams that are irritating to the skin, it is important to use an effective sun block to prevent further sensitivity and irritation. Select a broad-spectrum (blocks both UVA and UVB) sun block that is SPF 30 and labeled as non-comedogenic. Re-apply often, especially when exposed to the sun for prolonged periods. It is not sufficient to rely on makeup or moisturizers that claim to have a built-in sunscreen. These products are usually not effective in providing effective sun protection. Always use a dedicated sun block that meets the criteria for complete protection from the sun.