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Acne is probably every teenager's nightmare. It's not just spots or pimples; it's huge, ugly pustules that can leave scars for life if not properly treated.

Acne is actually very common, and once you understand what causes it, you can easily follow through with effective home treatment. Skin has a natural oil called sebum. It's formed in a special gland, which also releases the oil onto the skin to help keep it soft and supple. The mouths of the glands can become blocked. When this happens, the oil can't escape and a blackhead forms at the mouth of the gland. If germs then invade the blackhead, and the gland underneath it, pus forms in the gland and escapes as a pimple, or acne.

Once you understand the simple principles behind acne, you can treat it easily at home in just two simple steps.

Step 1: You can control how much oil your skin forms by eating correctly. Avoid oily and fatty foods, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and drink lots of water. Make sure your diet is high in fibre, so that your body gets rid of waste build-up in the intestines regularly every day. Limit red meat, cheese and eggs.

Step 2: Keep your skin scrupulously clean. Regular washing and moderate exposure to sunlight will help combat mild acne. If you have moderate acne, consider a lotion containing benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide helps remove the top layer of dead skin cells, and therefore helps unblock the mouths of the skin's natural oil glands. It also has a mild antibacterial action which helps combat the germs.

Because it is so drying, you may find it irritates your skin. Try washing the lotion off after 15 minutes to begin with, then gradually extending how long you leave the lotion on. If you get a rash, blistering or swelling from using the product, stop using it immediately and consult your doctor. However, you can expect mild stinging, dryness and redness from using benzoyl peroxide, but the side effects should be really mild. If you react badly in any way, stop using it. You should avoid any preparations containing benzoyl peroxide if you have eczema, sunburn, or a sensitive skin, or if you are taking other medications.

If you have really bad acne, consult your doctor, who will be able to prescribe suitable cleansers and medication to control the infection behind your acne.