Self-Care Tips for Acne

These are some of the most important things we think you need to know about acne and how you can best manage it yourself!

1: Diet

There is little evidence that food causes acne, however, a healthy balanced diet is generally advised, which includes fresh fruit and vegetables.

2: Talk to your GP

Even mild cases of acne can sometimes cause distress and unhappiness. If your acne cannot be controlled by over-the-counter treatments, go and speak with your GP.

3: Be patient!

Unfortunately, patience is necessary as acne responds slowly and often a trial period of around 6 weeks is necessary before any particular therapy is abandoned for another.

4: Use medication as directed

Use prescribed topical preparations and oral medications as directed, e.g. take them at the correct time of day, as often as prescribed, at the right dose and check whether antibiotics should be taken with or without food, as all of these factors can alter the effectiveness of medications.

5: Resist! Resist! Resist!

Do not poke, squeeze or pick spots, as this can cause scarring. Do not go pimple popping, as this damages your skin!

6: Avoid rubbing and touching spots!

This is to decrease the risk of infection.

7: Cleansing

When you are on an acne treatment, avoid vigorous washing and scrubbing as this can irritate the skin. Wash the skin with a gentle skin cleanser twice daily, use lukewarm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Completely remove any make-up before going to bed.

8: Shave carefully

Boys/men who shave, and who have acne, should test both electric and safety razors to see which is more comfortable. Shave gently, slowly and in the direction of the hair growth. Shave only when necessary to reduce the incidence of nicking pimples.

9: Hair care

Shampoo your hair regularly, especially if you have oily hair. If you have long hair, pull your hair back to keep it out of your face.

10: Applying medication

If applying acne medication to the skin, apply a thin layer to the entire affected area (e.g. all of the face, with clean hands!) and not just to individual spots, as this will help to treat existing acne and prevent breakouts.

11: Choosing products

Choose cosmetics, toiletries and sunscreens that do not block pores – these products may be labelled “non-comedogenic” or “oil free”. In the first few weeks of using acne treatments such as topical retinoid and benzoyl peroxide, it may be difficult to apply foundation evenly because the skin may be red or scaly.

12: Avoid sunburn and suntan

Many of the medicines used to treat acne can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. A sunburn that reddens the skin, or suntan that darkens the skin may make the acne less visible and make the skin feel drier. However, these ‘perceived benefits’ are temporary, and there are known risks of excessive sun exposure, such as premature skin aging and the risk of developing skin cancer.


Visit our acne information page to learn more or if you need help and support contact the ISF Helpline.   

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