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How To Prevent Summer Acne Breakouts
By Angela Davis, MD
Summertime in the Houston area means hotter temps, higher humidity, and for most people, lots of sweating. This can unfortunately be the perfect combination to cause acne. Even if you normally don’t experience breakouts, you may find that you begin getting blemishes on your face or body during the summer months.
Most of the time, these seasonal breakouts are due to pores becoming clogged by the increased oil and sweat that the skin produces as a reaction to higher temperatures. Heat and humidity create the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which can get trapped in the clogged pores, resulting in blemishes.
Steps To Avoid Summer Acne
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid sweating in Houston’s hot, humid weather, you can help beat summer breakouts by following these dermatologist-recommended tips:
- Wash your face properly. The type of cleanser you use depends on your skin type, but in general, it’s a good idea to use a lightweight, gentle cleanser during the summer because it removes oily buildup without removing the skin’s essential oils with it. You should at least wash your face before going to bed, but you should also consider doing so after you’ve been sweating. Be careful to not wash too much or too harshly, though, as this can actually aggravate your skin and make acne worse.
- Use oil-free sunscreen and moisturizer. Any time you go outside – even if it’s not summer or sunny – you should wear sunscreen. Moisturizers help replace any hydration your skin has lost to the heat. But many people skip applying sunscreen and moisturizer for fear they’ll contribute to breakouts. Because they can clog pores if you’re using the wrong kind, during the summer months, be sure to use oil-free and lightweight sunscreen and moisturizers, which are far less likely to clog pores than heavy products that contain oil. Sunscreen should provide an SPF of at least 30.
- Exfoliate skin weekly. A buildup of dead skin cells also contributes to clogged pores and acne, so you should add an exfoliating product to your skin regimen once a week, especially during the summer months. Exfoliating can also help speed up healing and stimulate faster skin regeneration. But, for exfoliating to be effective and not make acne worse, you’ll need to choose a gentle exfoliating product with fine particles and apply it gently without harshly scrubbing it into the skin. If you’re suffering from body acne, there are exfoliators specially formulated for use on areas such as the back and chest.
- Shower after sweating. It’s important to take a shower as soon as possible after sweating, whether you’ve been spending time outside or working out. If you let the sweat dry on your skin before washing it off, your pores can become clogged. If you can’t jump into the shower right away, try to towel off any sweaty, acne-prone areas with a soft, damp cloth or oil-free cleansing wipes.
- Change out of sweaty clothing. For similar reasons, you should change out of sweaty clothing as soon as possible. Remaining in sweaty clothing can trap sweat and bacteria in your pores, clogging them and causing acne on your back, chest, and other areas. Wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothing can also help prevent body acne, as can wearing clothing made from wicking material, which draws sweat away from the skin.
As tempting as it may be, you should also never pop or pick at your pimples, no matter what caused them. Doing so can lead to inflammation, hyperpigmentation, and scarring. Instead, apply a topical treatment with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to blemishes.
If preventive methods and topical treatments don’t work to decrease breakouts, visit a dermatologist who can determine if your acne is being caused by something other than the heat and offer appropriate treatment options.