Acne Management

Self-Care Guide

Skincare is essential in managing acne. The following is a guide on how to manage your skin. Keep things simple when it comes to your skincare regime. Early treatment of acne prevents scarring and pigmentation.

Image by Nati Melnychuk

Picking Spots

Do not pick or squeeze spots because this may worsen acne and cause skin swelling and scarring. It can also cause lesions to become infected.

Face washing

Cleansing your skin is essential for removing dead skin, dirt and makeup. It would be best if you only washed your face twice a day. Washing your face more can irritate, damage and dry out your skin. It is best to use mild cleansers rather than harsh soaps and wash your face in lukewarm water.


Choose products that are: Non-comedogenic - do not cause blackheads or whiteheads Non-acnegenic - do not cause acne. Make-up should be applied to clean, moisturised skin.

Makeup Removal

Remove make-up with a gentle cleanser and water or an oil-free soap substitute. Use an oil cleanser without mineral oil.


Using a moisturiser minimises dryness and skin peeling, which are common side effects of most acne treatments. Moisturisers labelled as "non-comedogenic" are less likely to block skin pores.

Sun Protection

Skin discolouration because of acne is common. It is essential to wear sunscreen as the sun can worsen discolouration. Some acne treatments also increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight (e.g., retinoids, doxycycline). Before sun exposure, use a sunscreen with SPF 30 broad-spectrum (blocks both UVA and UVB light).

Diet and Acne

The role of diet in acne is not proven, although there is growing evidence that it may make it worse.

Glycaemic Index

People that eat a diet with lots of sugars and starches (known as carbohydrates) tend to have more acne. This is thought to be due to the rise in sugar levels that then causes inflammation.

Foods to avoid

Boxed cereal Crackers and rice cakes Instant oats Sweetened baked goods and candies White bread White rice White potatoes, especially if baked.

Foods to try

Whole grains Beans and legumes Chickpeas Lentils Nuts and seeds Most non-starchy vegetables Sweet potatoes Apples Pears Peaches Grapefruit

Cows Milk

Milk contains hormones that can cause flare-ups of acne. Only a few studies, however, have shown a link between milk and acne. It is worth avoiding milk for two to four weeks to see if it improves your acne. If there is no improvement, milk is unlikely to worsen your acne.


No evidence links eating chocolate with acne.


Some lifestyle changes can be beneficial in helping acne. Stress aggravates acne, so get enough sleep and exercise daily.

Body weight

People that are overweight (high body mass index) tend to have more acne than those who are at an average weight.

Face Washing Tips

Vigorous washing or scrubbing can worsen acne and damage the skin's surface. Cleanse your face of all makeup thoroughly before bedtime but do not scrub it. Use warm (not hot) water. Use your hands to wash your face. Avoid washcloths or exfoliating face washes, as these can irritate your skin and worsen your acne. Avoid soaps which cause drying of the skin. Use a gentle facial cleanser like Cetaphil Cleansing Lotion. Some acne facial washes contain salicylic acid, which may dry and irritate your skin. Change your pillowcase 1-2 times per week. Pat skin dry (don’t rub) and allow the skin to dry completely (20-30 minutes). In the morning, gently wash your face, pat dry and apply a lightweight moisturiser with SPF, such as Cetaphil Dermacontrol SPF 30 moisturiser.