As you enter your teenage years, physical appearances begin to matter. The prospect of experiencing complexion problems -- pimples, zits, blemishes -- may bring you down. Unfortunately, the American Academy of Dermatology indicates it might not be a matter of if you get acne, but when get it. The AAD notes that around 85 percent of people get acne at some point in their lives. As your body matures into adulthood, hormones called androgens cause the oil glands to produce in excess -- and too much oil is a major cause of breakouts. You may be able to prevent acne using simple strategies and home care techniques.
Wash your face at least twice a day using a gentle liquid cleanser. Avoid harsh soaps, scrubs and astringents -- these can do more harm than good. Use your fingertips to wash your face rather than a washcloth or cleansing puff. Scrubbing the face too hard with oil-stripping products can exacerbate oil production, which in turn could lead to acne. Gently blot your face dry with a soft towel.
Read cosmetics and skin and hair care labels carefully. Look for the words "oil-free," “nonacnegenic” or “noncomedogenic," the AAD advises. These words mean that the ingredients in the products won't clog the pores in your skin. This is particularly important if you're a girl and use a thick, cream-based foundation and blush. If your mother has ever told you, "You don't need to wear all that makeup," she's absolutely right -- thick application of makeup can cause acne or make existing pimples much worse. Keep it light and natural-looking by using powdered cosmetics instead.
Avoid accessories that press up closely against the skin. Caps, hats and headbands might be the latest fad, but they also trap sweat and oil that causes acne. Gently wash your skin if you've been sweating, particularly if you've worn a cap or helmet. Again, don't try to scrub the sweat off, as this can exacerbate your skin into producing more oil.
Tell a parent or caregiver if you do get acne and it's dragging you down. If acne causes you to suffer from poor self-esteem or if you find yourself withdrawing from social situations because you're embarrassed about your acne, it's the right time to see a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating and preventing acne. Your dermatologist may recommend a better treatment plan that includes prescription topical or oral medications.
If pimples start to appear despite your most diligent efforts, first try using mild over-the-counter topical medications that contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid or lactic acid. Give your treatment regimen at least eight weeks to work.
Eating pizza, fried foods and chocolate won't make you get acne or cause acne to become worse. This is strictly an old wives tale -- possibly imparted by your parents to get you to eat balanced meals. The AAD notes that there's no correlation between eating specific kinds of food and acne.