Acne is something that afflicts many individuals, but these days, it's far more common and severe than normal. Aside from the fact that the world is in a state of chaos, sending stress levels skyrocketing, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a new form of blemishes — maskne. To make matters worse, regular routine appointments with dermatologists are no more, leaving one to figure out how to fight acne at home, all by themselves.
But some good news: It's possible to weather this breakout storm, and according to the experts, it's actually about doing less, not more. So ahead, check out the dermatologist-approved tips to fighting and preventing acne, while also keeping stress levels to a minimum.
How To Fight Acne At Home: Treatment
Many experts will tell you that one of the primary ways to fight acne once it appears is through proper cleansing. "For patients with acne, I recommend using a gentle cleanser in the morning and evening," Dr. Kim Nichols, board-certified dermatologist and SkinCeuticals partner says. "You should also be vigilant about cleansing after sweating to keep the skin clean without over-drying or causing inflammation." And Dr. Ellen Marmur, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Marmur Medical in New York City, says another way to prevent dryness is to be cognizant about water temperatures. She suggests washing with warm, not hot water to avoid stripping the skin's surface.
Dr. Nichols also suggests incorporating a product with salicylic acid into your routine. "This can penetrate deep into the skin to unclog pores by dissolving oil and dead skin, helping to prevent and reduce breakouts," she says. However, Dr. Marmur warns on making sure to not overdo it. "Whatever you do, don’t pick, at the skin," she says. "Focus on hydration and calming the breakouts. That said, never use astringent-style toners."
How To Fight Acne At Home: Prevention
The best way to fight acne is to, of course, avoid it all together. "Consistency with your skincare routine is key for preventing acne," Dr. Nichols says. "Maintaining a steady regimen of clinically backed, gentle skincare that works with your skin is a great way to keep breakouts to a minimum." She also adds that avoiding touching your face, drinking enough water, and eating a healthy diet can all help to keep skin clear as well.
And when it comes to the dreaded maskne, there are a few more things to consider. "When you’re wearing your mask, germs and bacteria collect in the humid, re-breathed air which can trigger acne," Marmur says. "It’s more prevalent in the area covered by your mask which is around your chin and mouth." That said, Dr. Marmur says avoid wearing makeup. "The more product that is sitting on top of your skin the more prone you will be to a breakout," she explains. "Use very little complexion products and play up your eyes."
She also insists on keeping emollients as far away from the bottom half of the face as possible. "Only use face oil on your forehead," she says. "I recommend cleansing the skin before putting your mask on as well as after you take it off." Dr. Marmur also encourages being extra conscious of your dental hygiene with a few rinses with mouthwash during the day to further prevent saliva particles from clogging pores.
How To Fight Acne At Home: Combating Stress Acne
And while maskne is a nuisance in itself, the stress of the times can also trigger breakouts. "Stress causes an increase in hormones and cortisol, which in turn causes the oil glands to increase oil production and may trigger breakouts known as 'stress acne,'" Dr. Nichols says. "These often appear on the oiliest parts of the face, such as the T-zone." She says that the additional stress and increase in oil production brings about other symptoms. "These include increased pore size, blackheads, and whiteheads," she says. That said, a treatment plan incorporating an increased emphasis on internal health is encouraged. "In addition to the typical treatments for acne, I recommend patients who experience stress acne work to manage their stress levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle," Dr. Nichols explains.
However, when it comes to products, Dr. Marmur says you don't need an entirely different routine. "For the most part you can use the same product," she advises. Nonetheless, she does suggest incorporating light therapy to ease the mind. "Stress also wreaks havoc on your internal hormones which we know show up on the skin," Dr. Marmur says. "Low level light therapy with a range of high quality LED lights can reduce cortisol spikes in the skin and help with acne and the blemishes in their wake." Dr. Marmur suggests using a sophisticated product such as the MMSphere 2.0. "This has a calming effect, inspires sleep, reduces anxiety and tension, releases dopamine, stimulates collagen renewal and rejuvenates skin," she says. It also reduces redness and inflammation."
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