This is something I’ve never had, but I can share how I was able to prevent it. As a teen, I always gently cleaned my face twice a day (morning & bedtime) with liquid disinfecting soap (Phisoderm) and alcohol after I rinsed off the soap. It is important to eliminate bacteria from the face but not to over scrub too vigorously. You want to clean your face not damage it. Teen’s hands pick up bacteria throughout the day and becomes transferred to the face whenever they put their hands on their face. They often rest their faces in their hands, perched on their elbows while seated at their desk and tend to handle their faces during the day at school. It is also important for them to bathe daily and shampoo their hair regularly. Shampoo at least every other day. Otherwise, bacteria and oils from the hair will contaminate the face as they handle the hair and their face.

Smoking is also detrimental on having a nice complexion. So you may have to decide whether smoking is more important than a nice complexion. It certainly will not help the situation. Smoking robs  the skin around your mouth of oxygen which kills skin cells and also allows deep creases to develop as you get older. The smoke also deposits a film and contaminants on the skin just like air pollution will. In fact, these pollutants and contaminants are the reasons for using a light protective lotion on the skin after cleaning to act as a barrier against these contaminants from getting on your skin or into your pores. When you clean your face at bedtime, it removes the makeup, lotion and any pollutants or contaminants embedded in them. I only recommend an astringent after cleaning while sleeping because everything will stick to lotions while you are sleeping. But it is up to you if you wish to wear a lotion at night. It is not necessary for teens like it would be for the skin of someone older.

Teens also tend to use too heavy makeup. Base makeup should be applied lightly so not to block pores. Almay is best. Makeup should always be removed every night before bedtime. If not wearing makeup or if a male, then an astringent after cleaning the face at bedtime. In the morning, a light, fragrance free, non pore blocking lotion to protect the skin from pollutants or sunlight as appropriate. Olay has several good products such as regenerist to protect the skin. But the best face treatments I have seen by far are actifirm… but this is best to arrest aging rather than teen skin but has excellent gentle cleansing products. The important thing in lotions for the skin is to be fragrance free, light weight, without any harsh ingredients. Just a light protective covering which doesn’t block the pores.

Keeping the hands clean and making a concerted effort not to handle the face is important. The twice daily cleaning should kill the bacteria and remove contaminants. The astringents and lotions protect the skin from bacteria and pollutions between the cleanings. These are the key elements of preventing acne. It is bacteria, oils and contaminants which cause acne. Not food, although improper diet or greasy foods can reduce your natural defenses, increase skin oil & increase blockage of the pores. The increase of hormones for teens can also increase the oils in your skin which harbor bacteria. However, if you scrub or damage your skin, you are removing your natural protection of your outer skin layers and inviting bacteria to embed in the damaged skin areas. A poor diet and lack of vitamins will also impede your skin’s ability to heal and withstand bacteria. Biotin is essential for healthy skin, nails and hair. 2000 mg daily (adult dosage) will help keep skin and hair healthy. If you are not eating right, a daily multivitamin would also be beneficial. Extra vitamin C may also be beneficial since it helps in healing wounds.

Just by cleaning your face gently, twice a day with something to kill bacteria and remove oil and contaminants will be the most effective prevention of acne you can do. The reason these commercial acne treatments are successful is because they promote the regular cleaning of the skin. As long as it kills bacteria, removes oil & contaminants without harming the skin and promotes the twice daily cleaning ritual, it should produce positive results.

In my case, the phisoderm cleaned away the oils, contaminants and bacteria. The alcohol dried out the oils, removed any residue contaminants or soap and killed any remaining bacteria. At that age, dry skin is a benefit not a detriment as it is when you get older. Older females usually give the opposite advice to teens that they should follow. What works for older skin does not work for teens skin.

The lightly applied, fragrance free makeup I wore protected my skin like a lotion. Most teens tend to use far too much base makeup. It is thick, unnatural, blocks their pores and makes them look like the pancake makeup on a corpse. Base makeup should be applied lightly downward. If you apply it upward, you are going against the facial hairs and creating a fuzzy orange appearance. Never apply makeup in the opposite direction of face hairs.

For dry flaky skin on arms & legs, there is a soap at Whole foods called “South of France” Lemon verbena which remarkably improves dry, flaky skin on older skin. It does not work for deodorant purposes so a deodorant soap would still be needed, but this soap is great on skin in general… but I never use bar soap on my face.

I was fortunate that I never developed any acne. I feel it was this daily ritual which was effective.

Here are the key issues:

  • Causes
    • bacteria
    • oily skin
    • contaminants
    • touching or handling face
    • Touching pimples & spreading bacteria
    • failure to wash hands
    • not washing hair enough
    • failure to bathe daily
    • over scrubbing face
    • heavy makeup
    • heavy lotions
    • harsh soaps
    • fragrance or harsh ingredients
    • failure to clean face regularly
    • lack of vitamins or proper diet
  • Preventatives
    • clean face gently twice daily (morning & bedtime)
    • phisoderm & alcohol applied gently with cotton pads
    • bathe daily with antibacterial soap (on body, not on face)
    • wash hair at lease every other day
    • light weight lotion or lightly applied makeup base
      • Almay makeup
    • no fragrance or harsh ingredients
      • Olay regenerist or actifirm
    • no pore blocking products
    • Wash hands frequently
    • Carry hand sanitizer with you
    • Do not touch or handle face
    • Do not touch pimples. It will spread bacteria & create more acne.
    • avoid greasy foods
    • Biotin 2000 mg (adult)
    • multivitamin
    • Vitamin C

If you do get acne, it is important to kill the bacteria with alcohol every 4-6 hours and to apply an appropriate antibacterial topical. It is imperative not to touch the pimples because this will spread the bacteria and cause more acne to develop. If the area becomes red and inflamed and hot, an antibiotic or prescription ointment may be required from your doctor. My son got a terrible infection on his face and chest from acne because he was not properly cleaning his skin and was handling his skin with bacteria on his hands. It required antibiotics and medicine from the doctor which cleared it up quite quickly.

Do not allow acne to go for prolonged periods without being examined by a doctor. These infections can become quite serious in addition to permanent scarring and psychological trauma. Especially if acne is on body as well. Too many parents ignore the acne and don’t realize that doctors need to treat serious infections or extensive breakouts. If it is more than a few mild pimples, it should be seen by a doctor.


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