If you suffer from acne you’ll be looking for any ideas that can help you get rid of blemishes as quickly as possible. A healthy lifestyle and a regular and conscientious skincare routine are two important steps in the right direction. In this article we look at some other things you can do to help reduce blemishes and get control over your acne-prone skin.
What role does bacteria play in the development of acne?
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that blemishes mean poor personal hygiene. Even the cleanest people get spots. If your skin is prone to blemishes the causes are likely to be largely genetic and hormonal. You can find out more about the causes and triggers of blemishes in The development of acne.
However, as an inflammatory disease, acne is influenced by bacteria. Propionibacterium acnes (or P. acnes) are the bacteria most commonly associated with acne. They’re part of skin’s natural flora and we all have lots of them on the surface of our skin − up to 100,000 per square centimetre1.
The excess sebum produced by acne-prone skin creates the ideal breeding ground for P. acnes. They multiply and promote the inflammatory processes which lead to skin redness and the papules and pustules associated with acne.
Many of them are as relevant for people without blemishes as for those with blemish-prone skin/ or acne. They´re intended to help you manage bacteria so you are better able to control your skin. You probably know, and practice, many of them already.
- Herbert Hof, Rüdiger Dörries: Dual series: Medical Microbiology. 3. Edition. Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart, 2005, ISBN 978-3-13-125313-2, p. 305, 335-336.
General tips for clearer, healthier skin
1. Don’t fiddle with your face
Did you know that, on average, we touch our face every four minutes? The tips of our fingers are covered with bacteria and are good at spreading them across our face. So try to touch your face less, and wash your hands several times a day so you spread fewer bacteria if and when you do.
2. Never pick your spots
We know how tempting it can be and it seems like the best thing to do at the time to remove the pus and reduce the swelling. But picking spots just isn’t a good idea as bacteria spreads and makes matters worse. Resist the temptation and try using a cover up that works to both heal and cover blemishes such as Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cover Stick instead.
3. Make-up can sometimes help
Some people think that because they have acne-prone skin they shouldn’t wear make-up. This simply isn’t true. Make-up can help you to feel better about yourself and sometimes it can help because people who wear make-up are less likely to fiddle with their skin for fear of smudging their colour. If you do wear make-up, choose products that are proven to be non-comedogenic (i.e. not to cause blemishes) and be sure to remove it thoroughly before you go to bed with a cleanser specially formulated for acne-prone skin such as Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cleansing Gel.
4. Keep your mobile phone clean
Most of us are better at washing our hands than we are at keeping our smartphones clean. Phones gather bacteria and, when we put them to our face, that bacteria quickly spreads. Use a cloth similar to one you’d use to clean your glasses or your laptop screen to keep your phone clean or use headphones to make phone calls.
05. Clean your glasses
The benefits of keeping the lenses clean are obvious, but the bits that sit on your nose and rest against your forehead can gather bacteria too. Try and clean them once a day.
6. Change your pillow cases regularly
A dirty pillow case can undo some of the benefits of your evening skincare routine. Change pillow cases once or twice a week, or turn them over and put your head on the other side. Alternatively, put a clean towel over your pillow case each evening and rest your head on that instead.
7. Keep your accessories clean
Hats, caps and scarves can be great at keeping you warm, but they can sit near your face and spread bacteria. Wash them regularly, ideally at least 60°C in the washing machine but by hand if they’re delicate.
8. Change T-shirts daily
If you have acne on your back and/or décolletage/chest then it’s really important to change the clothes directly in contact with your skin (shirts, T-shirts, vests, bras etc.) on a daily basis and launder them at 60°C or higher.
Clean your home with mild detergents. Harsh products can make bacteria resistant and can also trigger allergies and Atopic Dermatitis.
9. Ditch the magnifying mirror
The last thing you want to see before you go out is your blemishes looking larger than they do in reality. Your magnifying mirror can be your worst enemy, making you think your blemishes are more noticeable than they really are.
10. Use fresh towels
Dry your face with a fresh towel. To avoid laundry mountains, use small hand towels or flannels to dry your face and wash them once or twice a week. Alternatively, you could dry your face with kitchen towel or paper towels.
11. Regularly wash make-up applicators
Ideally, use disposable cotton pads to apply powder and blusher. If you prefer sponges or brushes, clean them once a week with a mild detergent, shampoo or your DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cleansing Gel. Alternatively, replace them with new ones.
12. Use a silicone sponge to apply your make-up
Silicone sponges don’t absorb product, so they’re easy to clean. You’ll be spreading foundation, rather than bacteria, and you’ll get the same flawless coverage with less product too.
13. Avoid adding germs to your face cream or foundation
If you stick your finger in your pot of cream or foundation then you’ll be adding bacteria to it, so be sure to wash your hands before using your products. Even better, use a small cosmetic spatula to take the product from the pot to your fingertips.
14. Change razor blades frequently
If you like to wet shave your face then try to change your blades once a week. If you use an electric razor make sure you clean the head regularly.
Tips for travel and the workplace
15. Clean your bicycle helmet
A bicycle helmet is a safety must, but be sure to keep the lining and straps clean. Use lukewarm water and a mild soapy solution or washing up liquid.
16. Keep your tools clean
Don’t forget to keep the tools you handle regularly at work clean. It’s easy to forget that the keys on your laptop, your mouse and your office phone can gather bacteria that gets transferred to your skin.
17. Stay cool
It’s easy to overheat in the summer and during exercise. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling down but sweat left on the skin can decompose creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and spread. Take regular breaks during exercise to cool down, shower immediately afterwards and consider using a fan in the home or office during the hotter months. You could even get a portable fan so you have one on you to help you cool down in hot places such as a nightclub.
18. Wear natural, breathable fabrics
Try to wear natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton next to your skin, especially when you exercise. Lycra and other synthetic fabrics trap the sweat and hold it close to your skin thereby creating the ideal environment for bacteria to flourish.
19. Pack the wet wipes
We don’t recommend these as an alternative to thorough cleansing in the morning and evening, but they can be really helpful to freshen up your hands when you’re out and about.
20. Get blotting
If you have a long day at work, or you’re going straight out in the evening after work, blotting papers can be really helpful. These wafer-thin leaves absorb the film of oil that can form on acne-prone skin as the day goes on leaving it looking fresh and matt again.
And finally, try not to let your blemishes get you down. Living with acne can be stressful, but stress itself may be a trigger that exacerbates symptoms. So try and get on with your life and life it to the full.
You can find some tips on how to reduce stress here.