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Acne Health Center

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Curing the College Acne Blues

Why your skin can break out in college -- and what you can do about it.


Dove Body Wash ($8.99) is Levine's favorite. "It's very moisturizing," she says. If your skin is extremely dry, Friedman suggests soap-free Cetaphil RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Body Wash ($14.99).

As soon as you step out of the tub or shower, pat your skin lightly with a towel and apply a moisturizer, says Friedman. Look for occlusive agents like dimethicone, petrolatum, paraffin, and lanolin that block water from being lost when the skin is exposed to dry air, he says. You also want your moisturizer to contain humectants that hydrate by pulling water from the outside into your skin.

While the weather is still warm, try a light formulation with sunscreen, such as Yes to Carrots Hydrating Body Lotion with SPF 30 ($14.99). As soon as the cold hits, switch to CeraVe SA Renewing Lotion ($15.99), which blocks moisture loss and repairs the skin barrier, says Friedman. That makes it a good choice for the winter months, when low humidity and blasting heaters lead to parched skin.

Avoiding Acne

Here's what can worsen acne breakouts and how you can reduce the risk of bad flare-ups.

Processed food. "Sugary, starchy, highly processed foods all cause blood sugar to spike, and that leads your body to produce more insulin, insulin growth factor, and androgen," says dermatologist Jody Levine, MD. "We now know that it's these hormonal surges that lead to excess sebum or oil production and then to acne." Solution: Chart your skin eruptions. If you notice yourself breaking out after eating, say, dairy, eliminate it from your diet and see what happens.

Stress. Whatever the cause of stress, it weakens your immune system and amps up your body's inflammatory response. The result: an eruption of pimples, or worse, rosacea, eczema, or any other skin condition you may have. Solution: Counteract the stress, make sure you're eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, or head to the gym.

The opinions expressed in this section are of the experts and are not the opinions of WebMD. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

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Reviewed on July 15, 2012

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