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Acne in the Summer

As summer progresses, many patients ask how sunlight and hot weather will affect their acne. Not every patient’s acne responds the same way. For some patients a modest amount of sunlight (a few minutes each day) will help improve their skin because it helps kill Proprionibacterium Acnes, a bacteria that causes acne. However, sweating in the setting of hot, outdoor activities may clog pores and worsen acne.

At Massachusetts Dermatology Associates we recommend that our acne patients use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 with broad spectrum protection every day, because even with sunscreen enough light will typically penetrate to help clear the acne. In selecting sunscreen we recommend that you choose one that is designed for acne prone skin that does not clog pores and ideally may have active ingredients to treat the acne. As an example, EltaMD UV Clear contains niacinamide, a treatment for acne that does not irritate the skin.

Other treatment advice for acne patients during the summer:

1. If using doxycycline or Bactrim, sun protection (or avoidance) is extremely important since these medications make most patients more sensitive to the sun. If you have sunburns while on either of these medications despite good efforts to protect from the sun you may need to consider switching to a different treatment.

2. If using retinoid therapies such as tretinoin (Retin-A) adapalene (Differin) or isotretinoin (Accutane), even short exposures to sun may also lead to sunburn, and we urge patients using these medications to be careful about sun protection.

3. For patients who are active with sporting activities, showering (or cleansing the skin) as soon as possible after finishing these activities can be very helpful. Any tight-fitting uniforms or gear (e.g. helmets, bandanas) may block skin pores and worsen acne, and therefore efforts to minimize gear or accessories directly against the skin can be beneficial.

If you are undergoing treatment for acne during the summer, it is worth discussing other specific recommendations with your dermatologist that are tailored to your particular treatment regimen.

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