Clear Skin Tips for College Students

You have so many new, exciting things happening in your life right now, so acne can be a drag.  But, no matter what your age or which treatments you've tried, acne can be improved. 

First things first, you need to get started on a proven acne treatment.  Over-the-counter products can be helpful for mild breakouts and blackheads.  If your acne is a bit more stubborn, you'll need prescription medications to get the results your looking for.

Once you've got your treatment routine under wraps, follow these clear-skin tips to get the best results possible.

Don’t neglect your skin. 

Up late into the night?  Make sure you wash your face before your head hits the pillow.  Spending the day out at the beach?  Wear an oil-free sunscreen.  Good skin care alone isn’t going to clear up a case of acne, but it is the cornerstone of your acne treatment routine.  You don’t need expensive skin care products; you just need to use them regularly.   

Wash your sheets. 

Be honest, when is the last time those sheets have been washed?  If you can’t remember, you’re overdue. 

To be clear, dirty sheets themselves don’t create a case of acne.  But they surely don’t help when you’re trying to clear your skin.  Think of all the dirt and oil that builds up on your pillowcase.  You definitely don’t want to be resting your face on that for eight hours a night.

 

Many students find it helpful to have several sets of sheets.  Then you can change them once a week, even if you don’t have time to get to the laundry. 

Watch your diet. 

Without Mom or Dad around to cook for you anymore, it’s easy to fall into the eat-nothing-but-fast-food trap.  Although we don’t have absolute proof that what we eat contributes to acne, many experts are taking a fresh look at the diet-acne connection.

  Some studies have suggested that certain types of foods, namely high-glycemic index foods and dairy products, may make acne breakouts worse.  So, try to eat well.  Even if it doesn’t do anything for your skin, it’s a healthy habit to have.         

Tame stress. 

The stress of a new school, new classes, and most likely a new address, and your skin might start behaving badly. Even good stress, like the excitement of heading off to college and all the work that comes with it, can be enough to worsen acne. 

Like with diet, we don’t have much proof one way or the other if stress contributes to breakouts.  But learning how to effectively deal with stress is a good skill to develop, right?  If it seems to help your skin, consider it a bonus. 

Don’t pop! 

Popping pimples can damage your skin.  Enough said.  Of course, no one wants to walk around all day with a big whitehead on their face.  Instead of popping, try using a warm cloth to encourage the pimple to drain.  You can also try dabbing on a spot treatment a few times a day.

 

Pay attention to your emotional well-being. 

Acne can make you feel embarrassed, unattractive, and anything-but-confident.  That’s normal, too.  Be good to yourself, take time to do things you enjoy, and nurture your self-esteem.  Try to remember that the breakouts seem worse to you than they do to others. 

If you find yourself skipping class or avoiding hanging out with friends because of a breakout, if you feel acne is impacting your grades or your social life, you should get some extra support.  (This is especially true if you have any of these warning signs.)  Talk with your physician, or visit your student health center, and be honest about what you’re going through. 

You can get through this!  It will just take a little time, some patience, and consistent use of the right treatment.  

Sources:

Adembamowo CA, Spiegelman D, Berkey CS, Danby FW, Rockett HH, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Holmes MD. "Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2008; 58(5): 787-793.

Smith R., Mann N., Braue A., Mäkeläinen H., Varigos G. "The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial." August 2007. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, volume 57, issue 2, pages 247-256.

Yazici K, Baz K, Yazici AE, Köktürk A, Tot S, Demirseren D, Buturak V. "Disease-specific quality of life is associated with anxiety and depression in patients with acne." J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2004; 18:435-9.

Yosipovitch, G. "Study of Psychological Stress, Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris in Adolescents." Acta Dermato-Venereologica (2007); 87(2): 135-139.

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