Skip to Content

COVID-19 Info: Vaccines (5 & up) | Boosters | Testing | Visitor Guidelines | Stats | More

IMPORTANT NOTICE: COVID-19 testing appointments are not available at Cone Health emergency departments or urgent care locations. Click here for testing options.

Published on December 03, 2018

What to Do About Acne: 9 Steps to Help Prevent Pimples

9 Steps to Help Prevent Pimples

Pimples popping up might make a teen feel like their day is ruined – but they’re not alone. From teenagers, to newborns, to adults and the elderly, almost everyone experiences acne. Acne is a skin condition that causes inflamed, sore, or discolored spots on your skin, and it’s most common in teenagers. While each person’s skin is different and effective acne treatments can vary, there are a few steps everyone can take to help their skin stay healthy and clear.

Acne is caused by excess oil, dirt, dead skin cells or bacteria clogging your pores. When your pores are clogged, they can become inflamed and lead to many kids of acne, including blackheads, pimples, and cysts. There are other factors that may make you more likely to have acne, including:

  • A family history of acne.
  • Changes in hormones, which can happen during puberty, pregnancy or during your menstrual cycle.
  • Feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Living in a hot and humid climate.
  • Eating a high sugar diet.

Whether your skin is dry, oily or a combination of both, here are nine tips that can help everyone prevent acne:

  1. Wash your face twice a day and after it gets dirty or sweaty. Getting rid of excess dirt and oil is important to help pores stay unclogged. When washing your face, use a facial cleanser that won’t irritate your skin and wash gently.
  2. Only use “non-comedogenic” products on your face. When choosing facial lotions and makeup, look for products labeled “non-comedogenic” which means it will not cause acne. Many oil-based products can clog pores, causing or worsening acne.
  3. Moisturize your skin. Moisturizing might seem silly if you want to prevent acne, but dry, irritated skin can produce too much oil and may make acne worse. Using a non-comedogenic moisturizer can help keep your skin well hydrated without causing acne.
  4. Don’t pick at your acne. Popping your pimples can cause more acne, lead to scaring, and even cause infections. Instead of picking, it’s best to let your skin heal naturally with the help of an acne cream or other treatment.
  5. Avoid touching your face. Touching your face can spread oils and bacteria from your hands to your facial skin, which might lead to irritation and acne.
  6. Wash your hair often and keep it off your face – especially if it is naturally oily. Oils from your hair can easily spread to your face. Avoid hair products with a lot of oil in them, and keep your hair clean and pulled back off your face.
  7. Avoid high sugar diets. Diets high in sugar can worsen acne. Some people may also develop worse acne if they drink large amounts of skim milk. Skip the sodas, sweet tea and desserts to help keep your skin looking clear.
  8. Protect your skin from the sun. The sun can be very harsh to our skin – it can irritate it and dry it out. It’s important to wear sunscreen to help protect your skin from acne, early skin aging and dangerous skin cancers.
  9. Use store-bought acne treatments. There are many acne creams, gels and liquids available in stores that can help reduce acne. Look for products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, or adapalene (differin gel). Be careful to avoid using products that might irritate your skin or hydrocortisone products, which can cause acne.

Sometimes acne can’t be treated at home – if it’s painful, persistent, causing scarring or if it affects you or your teen’s self-confidence, reach out to your health care provider for treatment options.

About the Author

Virginia Moye, MD, MPHVirginia Moye, MD, MPH is a board-certified dermatologist with a master’s degree in public health at Alamance Skin Care.