How to Prevent and Clear Up Breakouts like a Dermatologist


Jenna Cottengim skipped school once a week for two years because her acne was so bad and her attempt to clear up breakouts wasn’t working. “I didn’t like the way I looked,” she said. “It made me feel embarrassed and depressed.”

Cottengim, a student at the University of Kentucky, has visited her dermatologist monthly since seventh grade. She follows a strict skincare routine, including washing her face with non-scented Dove soap and applying Retin-A twice a day. The prescription strength topical cream, recommended to her by her dermatologist, is a kind of vitamin A that helps skin repair itself, Cottengim said.

Approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne, according to the American Association of Dermatology (AAD). With a percentage that high, dermatologists are in high demand, and trying to schedule an appointment can be even harder. If you are like most of America and can’t get in to see the local dermatologist for at least six months, use these tips to learn how to clear up breakouts like the pros.

Stressing about acne can make your acne worse

Everyone thinks that huge zit on their forehead is noticeable to everyone around them and might just be the end of the world. In fact, about 40 to 50 million American have acne at any one time, according to the AAD. Stressing about your breakouts is not going to make your breakouts go away any faster; it will only cause stress, and more planets to add to the solar system you insist exists on your face.

“Stress plays a big role in causing acne,” said Dr. Stephen Shideler, a board-certified dermatologist in Carmel, Indiana. There is a big buzz in medicine surrounding stress and its effects on acne, he said. Shideler advises letting the medicine do the work, and forgetting about the acne, “If you have a breakout, wash your face, use a cream and let the two do the work,” he said. “Don’t stress the fact that you have a pimple.”

Inflammation equals causation

There is also a big debate in the dermatology world about diet and acne, which Shideler said is 100 percent correlated. Carbohydrates, dairy and sugar all cause inflammation in the body, which leads to a red, inflamed pimple. While it is difficult to avoid breakouts all together, Shideler suggests moderation of eating foods containing high amounts of carbs, dairy and sugar.

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Try to determine which type of pimples you have

Usually, pimples first occur in what dermatologists refer to as the t-zone: the forehead, nose and chin. “Breakouts in the t-zone can start before puberty, usually consisting of clogged pores and blackheads,” said Dr. Chris Rehme, a dermatologist in Indianapolis, Indiana. Adolescent’s breakouts start in the t-zone first, then pimples move along to the cheeks, while adults’ breakouts appear on the chin and along the jaw line.

“There are a few different types of pimples: inflamed red bumps, white heads, black heads and puss-filled pimples,” Rehme said. “Knowing which type of pimples you are prone to will speed along finding the best treatment plan for you,” he said. There is also a hormonal component that acne-prone Americans need to be aware of. It is no secret that girls usually break out most when it is around the time of their menstrual cycle, when their hormones are all out of whack, Rehme said. He advises just sticking to your normal pimple plan, as these types of breakouts are inevitable and cannot be prevented.

Consistency is key

“Acne sufferers need to treat the skin regularly, whether they have breakouts or not,” Shideler said. “Following a daily skincare plan is most important if you are looking to see long-lasting results.” Maureen Riley, of St. Louis, MO, follows a strict skincare plan, after seeing a dermatologist when her acne became too noticeable for her liking.

Riley follows a daily skincare plan, consisting of both a face wash and a topical cream to dry out her any breakouts that exists, or could be forming under the skin, regardless of whether she has a breakout or not. “I have found that prevention has been helpful in keeping my breakouts away,” Riley said.

Don’t expect instant results

As a society living with a need for instant gratification, people usually expect to see results the next day, and are puzzled and discouraged when they don’t. When it comes to acne treatments, you might just have to wait on it. Acne sufferers should expect to wait at least three months until they are able to evaluate results, Shideler said. He also recommends benzoyl peroxide and adapalene. “These active ingredients are effective on their own, but I think a good blend is the most effective in treating stubborn acne,” Shideler said.

Breakouts are normal, but we should not have to suffer. There are different tips and tricks that the dermatologists use that can help us against these picture day ruining monsters. Most dermatologists recommend decreasing stress and not eating foods containing inflammation causing ingredients such as dairy, sugar and carbohydrates. You can also get in touch with Best Aesthetics in Singapore to get better professional help for acne and skin care.

Clear up breakouts the natural way

When we listen to what our body tells us, and combine that with a daily face wash and oil-free moisturizer, we are on our way to visibly clearer skin. Talk to your local dermatologist to find out which skincare routine is best for you and how these tips can clear up your skin, like it did for Maureen and Jenna.

Samantha Bunes

Samantha Bunes


Samantha Bunes is a junior at Indiana University majoring in journalism and minoring in fashion design. Originally from Fishers, Indiana, Samantha is looking forward to moving to New York after graduation. She loves to travel and looks forward to studying fashion in Milan in the near future.

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