Skip to main content

Cleansing and Moisturizing in Acne Patients


Affecting over 80% of adolescents, acne is a widespread condition with substantial negative physical and emotional effects, and significant societal cost. Cleansing the acne patient involves several considerations, including matching skin type to the right type of cleanser, optimal times and methods of cleansing, treating parts of the body other than the face, and patient perceptions of the cause and treatment of acne. Moisturizing prevents and alleviates skin irritation, soothing the skin by slowing the evaporation of water. Many liquid face cleansers also moisturize, which may be all that is needed for a patient with oily skin. Protection from sun and environmental damage is important for all patients. While sunscreens are often irritants, the best options for young, oily, acne-prone skin tend to have a water or light liquid base. Moisturizing sunscreens are appropriate for patients with dry, sun-damaged skin, as well as those who wear makeup, have other skin diseases, or are easily irritated by products. Overall, treating acne patients should include education in patient-friendly terms and promoting healthy daily skin care practices, including cleansing and protection against environmental damage.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Kraning KK, Odland GE. Prevalence, morbidity and cost of dermatologic diseases. J Invest Dermatol 1979; 79: 395–401

    Google Scholar 

  2. Mallon E, Newton JN, Klassen A, et al. The quality of life in acne: a comparison with general medical conditions using generic questionnaires. Br J Dermatol 1999; 140 (4): 672–6

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Management of acne: summary, evidence report/technology assessment: no. 17 [online]. Available from URL: [Accessed 2008 Dec 2]

  4. Gupta MA, Gupta AK. Depression and suicidal ideation in dermatology patients with acne, alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Br J Dermatol 1998; 139 (5): 846–50

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Layton AM, Henderson CA, Cunliffe WJ. A clinical evaluation of acne scarring and its incidence. Clin Exp Dermatol 1994; 19 (4): 303–8

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Sulzberger MB, Zaidems SH. Psychogenic factors in dermatological disorders. Med Clinicians North Am 1948; 32: 669–85

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Draelos ZD. The effect of a daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin on the skin barrier of subjects with acne. Cutis 2006; 78 (1 Suppl.): 34–40

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Imokawa G. Surfactant-induced depletion of ceramides and other intercellular lipids: implication for the mechanism leading to dehydration of the stratum corneum. Exog Dermatol 2003; 3: 81–98

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bikowski J. The use of cleansers as therapeutic concomitants in various dermatologic disorders. Cutis 2001; 68 (5 Suppl.): 12–9

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Subramanyan K. Role of mild cleansing in the management of patient skin. Dermatol Ther 2004; 17 Suppl. 1: 26–34

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Porter MR. Handbook of surfactants. London: Blackie Academic and Professional,1994

    Google Scholar 

  12. Schreiner V, Maerker H, Hoppe U. Dependence of barrier repair in human skin on intra— and extracellular pH. J Invest Dermatol 1996; 106: 917

    Google Scholar 

  13. Epstein HA. Anatomy of a skin cleanser. Skinmed 2005; 4 (3): 183–5

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Tan JK, Vasey K, Fung KY. Beliefs and perceptions of patients with acne. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001; 44 (3): 439–45

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Green, J. Sinclair RD. Perceptions of acne vulgaris in final year medical student written examination answers. Australas J Dermatol 2001; 42 (2): 98–101

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Baumann L. The skin type solution. New York: Bantam Books, 2006

    Google Scholar 

  17. Susitaival P, Flyvholm MA, Meding B, et al. Nordic Occupational Skin Questionnaire (NOSQ-2002): a new tool for surveying occupational skin diseases and exposure. Contact Derm 2003; 49 (2): 70–6

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Draelos ZD, Matsubara A, Smiles K. The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. J Cosmet Laser Ther 2006; 8 (2): 96–101

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. British Association of Dermatologists. Sunscreen and skin cancer factsheet. 2008[online]. Available from URL: [Accessed 2008 Jun 11]

  20. Funk JO, Dromgoole SH, Maibach HI. Sunscreen intolerance. Contact sensitization, photocontact sensitization, and irritancy of sunscreen agents. Dermatol Clin 1995; 13 (2): 473–81

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Greg Goodman.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Goodman, G. Cleansing and Moisturizing in Acne Patients. AM J Clin Dermatol 10, 1–6 (2009).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Acne
  • Dermatol
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Skin Type
  • Alopecia Areata