Food and face washing habits can contribute to acne

For teenagers, a big skin issue is acne. Specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have one surprising piece of advice for acne sufferers.

“Don’t wash your face too often,” says Dr. Kent Aftergut, a UT Southwestern dermatologist. “Acne isn’t caused by dirt, so frequent washing won’t help, and scrubbing instead may irritate your skin to make acne even worse.”

Those affected should wash no more than twice a day using a medicated face wash containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, Dr. Aftergut recommends. Products containing these ingredients are available over the counter.

A dermatologist can prescribe more powerful treatments for acne that doesn’t clear up. You also shouldn’t squeeze or pop pimples. That may cause inflammation or leave scars.

Diet choices may be contributing to acne.  Dr. Aftergut says recent data has shown that diets high in dairy products and sugar may worsen acne.  High sugar consumption can stimulate the body’s production of certain chemicals that drive acne and milk contains hormones that can do the same. Dr. Aftergut says teens need some dairy to provide calcium and vitamin D so he doesn’t recommend stopping these, just consuming in moderation and maintaining a balanced diet.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in dermatology.

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