Are you fighting a losing battle with acne? First, make sure you’re doing everything you can to lower your risk for those frustrating outbreaks that make you look (and feel) like Godzilla’s cousin. Here are five facts about acne outbreaks you should be aware of.
Chocolate CAN Trigger Acne Outbreaks
Chocolate is a tasty treat and dark chocolate is rich in heart-healthy antioxidants, but it’s not the best indulgence if you have acne. Although most studies don’t show chocolate itself worsens acne, sugary foods and dairy products that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar can trigger an acne outbreak. If you eat chocolate, choose dark chocolate that’s as low in sugar as possible. Also avoid other sugary treats, including sugar-sweetened drinks, which cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Stress Isn’t Your Friend if You Have Acne
Stress isn’t good for your body in general, and it’s not healthy for your skin. A study published in the Archives of Dermatology showed college students were more prone toward acne flare-ups around exam time, when they were “stressed out,” than during non-exam periods. You may not have complete control over the stress in your life, but you can find healthy ways to deal with it. Try meditation or yoga to help control acne outbreaks. Can you say “om?”
Resist the Urge to Tan Away Your Acne
Acne outbreaks are more common in the winter when skin is less exposed to sunlight. Although there is evidence that sun exposure improves acne symptoms, lying in the sun carries drawbacks, such as an increased risk for skin cancer and accelerated skin aging. The evidence that sunlight is beneficial for acne is so weak that it doesn’t justify the risk. Don’t use sun exposure as an acne treatment; the downsides are too great.
Exercise Won’t Worsen Your Acne
Many acne sufferers have the mistaken belief that working up a sweat will trigger an acne outbreak. A study published on Medscape Family Medicine showed this isn’t the case. The sweat you generate during a workout does not clog pores or contribute to pimples. The study found no correlation between the number of hours spent exercising, or the degree to which one sweats, and acne outbreaks. Don’t skip on exercise to save your skin — it probably won’t help and you’ll miss out on the other health benefits of exercise.
Squeezing Pimples Does More Harm Than Good
Most people squeeze pimples in hopes of helping them heal more quickly, but it’s safer not to. Squeezing or picking at pimples can lead to scarring. In areas of dark pigmentation, scarring can be permanent; if you have a darker skin tone, you’re more prone toward laying down dark pigment if you pick at or injure your skin. Resist the urge to squeeze.
Aggressive Cleansing Can Aggravate Acne
Common wisdom is that you should scrub away every last bit of oil from your skin if you’re prone towards acne. Don’t even think about it. Harsh cleansers and excessive cleansing can cause skin irritation, which can lead to breakouts. Plus, when you remove all oils, your skin compensates by producing more. Cleanse no more than twice a day with a gentle, non-soap cleanser and a light, non-comedogenic moisturizer. Contrary to popular belief, even oily, acne-prone skin needs a light moisturizer, and if you choose one with added oils or fragrances, it probably won’t worsen your acne.
Buy a headset for your phone. Pressing your cell phone or smartphone against your face can block oil glands and trigger a breakout. Even better, spend less time chatting it up and send a text instead. It’s better for your face.