Self-management - Acne

Although acne can't be cured, it can be controlled with treatment.

If you develop mild acne, see your pharmacist for advice.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP if:

  • your acne is severe or appears on your chest and back

You can also manage your acne during and after treatment.

These self-management techniques may be useful.


Don't wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.

Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.

Don't try to "clean out" blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.

Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.

Make-up and cosmetics

Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics.

Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic (this means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin).

Completely remove make-up before going to bed.

If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free, water-based emollient.

Covering scars with make-up

Make-up can help cover up scars and can be particularly useful for facial scars.

Camouflage make-up specially designed to cover up scars is available over the counter at pharmacies. You can also ask your GP for advice.


Regular exercise can't improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising, as sweat can irritate your acne.

Support for acne

There's a range of informally run message boards and blogs about acne online. You may find it supportive to read about other people's experience of living with acne.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 29 January 2019
Next review due: 29 January 2022