Acne is a common skin disorder that involves the skin's oil producing glands and hair follicles. Acne is caused by the build-up of debris, including dead skin cells, in the hair follicle causing obstruction of the oil flow and bacteria. This build-up results in the formation of "whiteheads" and "blackheads" more commonly known as acne.

Aggravating factors that may increase the occurrence of acne include:

  • Stress, including difficulties in relationships, fatigue, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and/or illness
  • Hormones that stimulate oil production (which is why acne begins in puberty!)
  • Friction/sweating, especially the combination, can lead to acne.  Hand-to-face contact is a common source of friction
  • Cosmetics/skin products, mainly oil based products, can clog pores
  • Nutritional supplements that have iodine


  • Wash the skin twice a day and avoid excessive scrubbing. Use a mild soap like Neutrogena, Purpose, or Dove
  • Use water-based or dermatological safe cosmetics only
  • Do not pick or squeeze acne lesions
  • Use over-the-counter medication containing Benzoyl Peroxide
  • If acne fails to improve, see your medical provider for advice

Self Care Tips

  • Keep your skin clean. Using a clean washcloth every time, work the soap into your skin gently for a minute or two and rinse well
  • Leave your skin alone! Do not squeeze, scratch, or poke at pimples. they can get infected and leave scars
  • Wash your face after you exercise or sweat
  • Wash your hair at least twice a week and keep it off your face
  • For Men: Wrap a warm towel around your face before you shave. This will make your beard softer and is less irritating on your skin
  • Avoid too much time in the sun. Don't use a sun lamp
  • Use only water-based makeup. Don't use greasy or oily creams, lotions, or makeup

When self care is not enough, a health care provider can prescribe topical ointments and/or antibiotics. In cases of cystic acne or acne resistant to conventional treatment, an evaluation by a Dermatologist is advisable and Accutane may be considered. No matter what treatments are recommended, remember to continue proper skin care.

Resource Link: Web MD Acne Health Center

For more information contact the UNC Student Health Center at 970-351-2412