How to better manage your acne breakouts

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      (This story is written in partnership with .)

      Not only do adults need to pay bills and deal with the societal pressures surrounding marriage and having children, but we also have to worry about acne. How is this fair?

      According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, acne affects about 90 percent of adolescents and 20 to 30 percent of adults aged 20 to 40 years.

      Those who suffer from acne understand that the painful red bumps can deeply impact your self-esteem and keep you from partaking in social activities. Luckily, most cases of acne can be managed with over-the-counter topical gels and creams or by oral medications.

      offers some valuable information that can help you understand and control those unwanted acne breakouts.

      Identify what is triggering your breakouts

      There are many lifestyle factors that can be causing your skin to flare up, including hormonal changes, specific medications, stress and anxiety, makeup, and your diet.

      When it comes to hormones, any increase in androgen (the hormone responsible for puberty) will result in more sebum production, which then leads to clogged pores. Once the tiny pore becomes blocked, whiteheads, blackheads, or acne may appear. This is why women will often go on hormone-regulating contraceptives to control their breakouts. While birth control helps prevent acne, certain medications that contain corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium, could do the opposite.

      As noted on , studies have indicated that “certain dietary factors, including skim milk and carbohydrate-rich foods—such as bread, bagels, and chips—may worsen acne.” If you think your diet may be negatively affecting your skin, give a plant-based diet a try or cut out dairy products and greasy food. To better understand the triggers that may be worsening your acne, check out the Causes & Risk Factors sections of .

      If you’re prone to acne, avoid using any makeup or hair products that contain oil—always opt for “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic” foundations and concealers. 

      Learn about over-the-counter (OTC) treatments

      It’s a good idea to try implementing some of the above lifestyle changes or use an OTC acne treatment before booking an appointment with your doctor. According to , look for drugstore products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as they are drying and can kill the acne-causing bacteria. More information on selecting an effective OTC acne treatment can be found on

      Along with using an OTC gel or cream, make sure that you’re diligently washing your face upon waking up and going to bed, and after getting sweaty at the gym.

      Consult a dermatologist

      If you’re experiencing depression or facial scarring from stubborn acne that won’t get better with OTC treatments, it’s time to see your family doctor or a dermatologist.

      Since an overwhelming amount of people experience acne, there are tons of prescription options that will eventually provide you with clear skin. These include: topical agents, oral antibiotics, hormonal agents, and retinoids.

      It’s important to remember that noticeable results often take time so be patient and avoid feeling discouraged.

      For diagrams to help identify the type or severity of your acne, as well as resources to help manage your breakouts, visit .

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