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Can anything be done to prevent it?

If you believe all the people who write advertising copy, curing acne could not be easier. All you have to do is to use this cleanser, rub in this topical cream and stick your finger in your ear. As if by magic, the spots will be gone overnight. Never since snakes were first turned into oil have so many promises been made by so many manufacturers to so many people. This is not to say that all the products on the market are useless. But it is to warn you that you have to see through the sales hype designed to part you from your money. There are a few simple things you can do. This does involve you buying "stuff". But buy with your eyes open. The first step is to understand the reality of your "problem". The fact that one batch of acne clears up does not mean there will be no more acne. You may have to continue taking some action over a period of a year and more. This will particularly apply if the trigger to your problem is the use of an oral contraceptive. You should liaise with your doctor to change the dosage and, if necessary, the brand of contraceptive you use until the right balance of hormones is achieved.

The good thing about self-help is that it is the cheapest kind of help on the market. Wherever possible, prefer it to any over-the-counter products or prescription medications. So what should you do?

  • Wash the areas most affected only twice a day. What does washing do? It removes the dead skin and any excess of sebum oil that has reached the surface. It is best to use a non-perfumed, simple soap and wash gently. If you wash too often or you rub at the skin too violently, you can cause more damage than you prevent.
  • There are some reasonably effective gels and creams for removing excess sebum oil. The best use benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient, but those with salicylic acid are also worth trying.
  • Once the skin is clean, avoid touching it. It is easy to transfer natural grease or oil from the fingers. The transfer is worse if you have been eating or using any product that will affect the skin on your face or neck. When the spots come, do not pick at them. Not only do you transfer contamination on to your face, you may also break the surface of the skin and allow more bacteria to enter the lesions. This means you should not "pop" the zits. Let them cycle through and drop off naturally.
  • Avoid using any heavy foundation makeup. There is a temptation to try to cover up skin problems. This is counterproductive. Choose a light powder rather than cream-based products. Keep your brushes and applicators clean. Always make sure you completely remove all makeup before you go to bed.

If all self-help and OTC remedies have failed, you can fall back on accutane which is the final line of defense. Make sure you consult with your doctor. There are problems in the use of accutane. Always take the necessary precautions.