How can I Prevent Acne?

wiseGEEK Writer

The question of how to prevent acne is a difficult one to answer. Acne in the form of pimples, whiteheads or blackheads, cysts and bumps isn’t always preventable. With good skin care, it is possible to reduce acne but it may never be possible to completely prevent it. There are some products that help you resolve pimples sooner, but they typically don’t resolve pimples before they start.

Pimples are caused by hormones, stress and clogged pores.
Pimples are caused by hormones, stress and clogged pores.

There are a number of urban legends that many people have used as guidelines to prevent acne. For instance, teens may avoid chocolate or soda because they think that these things cause pimples. In actuality, these things don’t cause acne; instead, the causal factor of acne is production of oil in the skin, high presence of dead skin cells and presence of certain types of bacteria. Oil production is particularly high among teenagers, though there are many adults who certainly can attest to continuing acne that hasn’t improved much as they aged.

Washing is important, but too frequent washing of the face can dry the skin and make acne worse.
Washing is important, but too frequent washing of the face can dry the skin and make acne worse.

Even if you cannot prevent acne, there are some ways to reduce breakouts. These include using an exfoliant each day to help reduce dead skin cell buildup. The other helpful thing is to reduce oil and bacteria, and utilizing an astringent helps to remove excess oil. It’s important to observe this kind of skin care regimen daily, but not to overdo it. Very frequent washing of the face can dry the skin and make acne worse. Washing the face after exercise, in the morning upon waking, and before going to bed are enough.

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There are some products that are designed to reduce if not prevent acne. Over the counter acne products usually have an active ingredient like benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Sometimes people find that these ingredients are not strong enough to really reduce acne. If this is the case, see a dermatologist who can prescribe other treatments that may help. Sometimes this merely means getting higher strength versions of over the counter products and other people take oral medications to reduce acne.

When selecting makeup, look for products that are noncomedogenic, which may help keep pores from getting blocked. It’s also important to replace makeup every couple of months because it can get loaded with bacteria. When using brushes to apply makeup, these should be washed or replaced every couple of months. Also, avoid getting most hair products on the face because these often have oils that can exacerbate acne.

It’s important to remember that there is no one right way to prevent acne, and no matter what treatment is used, you won’t be able to count on never having a pimple again. Instead, sensible measures can help you reduce number of breakouts. If acne is very severe, a doctor usually can find you treatments that reduce acne and are more effective.

There are various methods available to help reduce acne.
There are various methods available to help reduce acne.

Discussion Comments


I guess I was one of those fortunate teens who didn't develop a serious case of acne. I'd get an occasional pimple, but I didn't get the patches of red pustules my friends were getting. I was pretty religious about washing my face every morning and night, and my parents really kept a strict watch on all of our diets. We didn't eat greasy or fried foods as a rule, and I didn't drink sodas unless I was at a friend's house or a party. I grew up hearing about the dangers of eating chocolate and getting acne. I didn't eat much chocolate because of that myth.

I don't believe there is any reliable way to prevent acne breakouts. You've either got the kind of skin that can handle the excess oil or not. My friends who did get the more serious kinds of acne seemed to get over by their early 20s. I think good daily facial hygiene and addressing pimples quickly are my tips to prevent acne.


I tried a lot of different ways to prevent acne when I was a teenager, but I still had to suffer through some severe outbreaks. I think my main problem was trying to deal with adult-level oil production and juvenile skin. Astringents applied with pads or cotton swabs seemed to do the best job of reducing the oil, but the existing acne pustules didn't go away.

I was so desperate to get clearer skin that I agreed to try a remedy my dad read about. There was a product called DMSO that was ostensibly sold as a liniment for horses. DMSO had one property that turned it into an underground miracle drug, however. It could permeate human skin and take whatever it was mixed with along for the ride. My dad read that mixing DMSO with acne medication would make it work ten times better. I tried it for a month or so, with no success.

I found out later that DMSO was banned by the FDA because it was possibly carcinogenic, and was also allowing contaminants to penetrate the user's skin. All claims about acne prevention were proven false in lab tests.

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