From the occasional pimple to painful pus-filled lesions, acne comes in many different forms and affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives.
Dr. Adrienne Haughton, the assistant vice chairman and program director with the Department of Dermatology at Stony Brook University Hospital, is familiar with the nuisance skin condition, and recently told Newsday some little known facts about acne.
That 85% of the population will suffer from acne at some point during their lives may not be surprising to some — but what you may not know, Haughton said, is that, “acne is not restricted to your teenage years — some people have acne in their 30s, 40s and 50s."
It's not uncommon for people to develop acne for the first time in their 30s and 40s, she said.
'You cannot scrub away your acne'
If you buy into all those products with magical “scrubbing beads" that are supposed to erase acne overnight, you shouldn't, Haughton said.
“You cannot scrub away your acne. In fact, aggressive scrubbing or the use of harsh chemicals can worsen acne by irritating the skin," she said.
Only products that contain ingredients known to treat acne like benzoyl peroxide can improve acne. Using anything else can actually have the opposite effect, Haughton said, making prescription products harder to tolerate.
'Picking, popping and squeezing acne makes it worse'
While there are different causes for different people's acne, there are some factors that cause and or worsen acne that you might not even realize.
“Your skin care routine can be contributing to acne," Haughton said. Acne sufferers should be careful to select skin care and makeup products that are labeled as being “non-comedogenic or oil free."
She noted that makeup brushes should also be cleaned weekly, as they can hold bacteria and yeast, which contribute to breakouts.
Among the list of additional offenders that may be worsening your acne are: greasy hair products (Haughton recommends pulling your hair back and changing pillow cases frequently to minimize contact with residues from the night before), and medications such as oral contraceptive pills, topical steroids and prednisone.
Also making the list is your cellphone and your exercise gear.
“Holding your phone for long periods of time to your face traps oils in your pores as well as exposes your skin to bacteria," Haughton said.
Her tip? Clean your phone and use a headset or other device to keep your phone away from your face.
And the next time you have an irresistible urge to pop or pick at that big zit on your face — don't.
“Picking, popping and squeezing acne makes it worse," Haughton said, “as they cause more inflammation in the skin ultimately leading to prolonged redness and sometimes scarring of the skin."