Mark Abdelmalek, M.D., is chief of the division of laser and dermatologic surgery at Drexel Dermatology, and assistant professor in the department of dermatology at Drexel University College of Medicine.
In many ways, acne on your cheeks is the same as acne on your, uh-hum ... "cheeks." It's basically a plugged up hair follicle that gets inflamed.
There are a few things you can do. You can start washing with an acne wash in the shower. Benzoyl peroxide works well and there are now prescription strengths of benzoyl peroxide available over-the-counter. Benzoyl peroxide washes can be irritating so don't overdo it. Start off with lower strengths around 5 percent, but if you're not too sensitive and are tolerating the 5 percent strength well, try 10 percent. And, an important warning for your wardrobe and your wallet — benzoyl peroxide can bleach your towels and clothes so be sure to rinse well. It might be a good idea to wear white undergarments and use white towels.
For people who don't have sensitive skin, antibacterial soaps also may help. Antibacterial soaps can be very harsh on the skin and may be too drying, especially in the winter, so again, don't overdo it.
Don't scrub your bottom. Scrubbing with a buff-puff or a washcloth can actually make your acne worse by rupturing the fragile acne bumps under the skin.
It's also not a good idea to use lotions or creams that clog pores. This can also make acne worse. Cotton undergarments are best — they keep moisture, sweat, and dirt away from your pores.
Acne is a real medical condition that can be uncomfortable and painful. It may need more attention or possibly prescription strength medications that keep pores from clogging up. Acne that is not responsive to topical treatments may need oral medications, or can even be a sign of hormonal imbalances. It can be associated with other medical conditions, some of them serious.
See your dermatologist to get on the best acne treatment plan and especially if it's not getting better.