Traditional treatments can help prevent acne. Cleanse the acne-prone areas with gentle soaps or cleansers. Avoid irritants, such as rubbing and other alcohols, and abrasive scrubs and greasy products on the skin and in the scalp. Products labeled "water-based" or "noncomedogenic" will help reduce clogged pores.
There are also a variety of over-the-counter medications that may help. These are meant to be preventative therapies and should be applied in a thin layer to the entire area on a regular basis. If applied consistently, you may see small improvements quickly, but results are generally seen after a few months. Benzoyl peroxide (most effective), is available in a variety of forms and strengths. Benzoyl peroxides tend to dry the skin, though, so if you have dry skin, use a weaker-concentration product; for oily skin, consider higher strengths. It can also bleach your clothing and towels. Peeling agents (exfoliants) such as salicylic acid, sulfur, resorcinol, and alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, pyruvic, and citric acid) can also help but will also cause some dryness of the skin.
Microdermabrasion performed every 7–10 days ("lunchtime peel") has been a popular way to control mild acne and can be done by a health care professional. The same types of peeling agents are available in over-the-counter products, which can be used at home at much less cost.
When to Seek Medical Care
If you have moderate or severe acne that has not improved enough with self-care, seek medical help.