Care and Connection

Loneliness Affects All Ages. Human beings are social creatures. Feeling like we’re part of a community helps us thrive. But we sometimes have a hard time making and keeping the relationships that sustain us. Many Americans report feeling lonely for long periods of time. Connections with others are important for your health.Social isolation and loneliness can both cause problems. “Isolation is about whether other people are physically there or not. Being lonely is about not feeling connected to others. You can feel lonely in a room full of people,” explains Dr. Steve Cole, an NIH-funded researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies loneliness.

Loneliness not only feels bad, it may also be harmful to your health. People who feel lonely are at higher risk of many diseases. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness may also increase the risk of death for older adults.

Some of the increased risk of disease may come from changes in behavior. People who feel isolated may not have friends or family encouraging them to eat right, exercise, or see a doctor. New research suggests that loneliness can also directly harm our health.

“Lonely people have differences in their biology that make them more vulnerable to disease,” Cole explains. He and colleagues have studied how loneliness affects the immune system, your body’s disease fighting system. They found that loneliness may alter the tendency of cells in the immune system to promote inflammation. Heat, swelling, and redness caused by the body’s protective response to injury or infection. Inflammation is necessary to help our bodies heal from injury. But when it goes on too long, it may raise the risk of chronic diseases.

People who feel lonely may also have weakened immune cells that have trouble fighting off viruses. “So that leaves lonely people more vulnerable to a variety of infectious diseases,” Cole adds.

People often associate loneliness with getting older. But you can feel lonely at any age. A recent survey found that young Americans are more likely to feel lonely than older adults. Some research suggests that social media tools and resources are preventing younger people from connecting in real life, Cole says. However, more studies are needed to know whether this is true.

It can be hard for people to talk about loneliness, Cole explains. They may feel like something is wrong with them, even though feeling lonely happens to almost everyone at some point.

NIH-funded researchers are looking into ways to help people break the cycle of loneliness. Studies have shown that feelings of loneliness can be reduced by helping others, Cole says. Caregiving and volunteering to help others may therefore help people to feel less lonely.

Having a sense of purpose in life may be another way to fight the effects of loneliness. Research has found that having a strong sense of mission in life is linked to healthier immune cells. “And when you start to pursue a goal that’s important to you, you almost always have to cooperate with others to do that,” Cole says. “That helps bring people together.”

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Bionic Movements

Connecting Mind and MachineWhen you lose the use of a limb, even the simplest of daily tasks can turn into a challenge. High-tech devices can help restore independence. New technologies are even making it possible to connect the mind to an artificial limb. These artificial limbs are called bionic prosthetic devicesDevices that replace a body part..

“To get back some of that lost function, you need some sort of assistive tool or technology to either enhance recovery or restore the capability of the anatomy that’s missing now,” says Dr. Nick Langhals, who oversees NIH-supported prosthetic engineering research.

This fast-moving research aims to improve people’s lives by restoring both movement and feeling.

Prosthetic Control

Traditional prosthetic devices use a body-powered harness to control a hand device. These are easy to use. With a shrug of your shoulder, the prosthetic hand or hook opens. With the release of your shoulder, the prosthesis closes. Through the feel of the cable tension across your shoulders, you know whether the prosthesis is open or closed without looking at it.

Newer, motorized hands are not as easy to learn how to use. To close the device, you contract the remaining muscles in your arm. An electrical sensor placed over those muscles detects the contraction and tells the hand to close. Since the original muscles that controlled the hand are gone, the remaining muscles must be retrained. Learning how to open and close a prosthetic hand in this way takes some time. And you still need to watch the device to know what it’s doing.

To make motorized hands more intuitive to use, researchers are developing ways to detect the electrical signals in your brain and nerves. Special tissues that carry signals between your brain and other parts of your body to help control advanced bionic prosthetics. This can be done many ways, such as by implanting tiny sensors in the parts of the brain that control movement or by attaching small electrodes. Tools that are used to carry electricity to or from different parts of the body to the amputated nerves. Either way, the patients simply think about moving their hand and computers translate it into the movements of a bionic prosthetic hand.

Two-Way Communication

To regain a sense of wholeness, a person with a bionic limb needs to do more than control the device. They also need to “feel” what it’s doing. New bionic devices can send sensation from the device back to the brain. This allows a person with a bionic device to feel like they are using their own limb.

“The most important thing about the research that we’re doing is this sense of wholeness,” says Dr. Paul Marasco, a biomedical engineering researcher at Cleveland Clinic.

One way to help a person feel their prosthetic hand is to move the remaining sensory nerves from the amputated hand to the skin of the upper arm. You can then use small robots to press on the skin of the upper arm when the hand is touching something.

Marasco’s team devised a similar system to restore the feeling of movement, too. The bionic hand sends signals to a computerized control system outside of the body. The computer then tells a small robot worn on the arm to send vibrations to the arm muscle. These vibrations deep in the muscle create an illusion of movement that tells the brain when the hand is closing or opening.

Marasco’s team tested this feedback system with several people who had a hand prosthesis. The study participants were able to operate the bionic hand and know what position it was in just as well as with their natural hand. With this feedback system, they didn’t have to look at the bionic hand to know when it was open or closed, or when it was reaching for an object.

“We fool their brains into believing that the prosthesis is actually part of their body,” Marasco says. This advancement directly taps into the way that the brain senses movement, which helps improve the two-way communication between prosthetic device and mind.

Wearable Robots

Research teams are also trying to help people who have lost the use of their legs. By wearing a robotic device called an exoskeleton, some people with leg paralysis have been able to regain the ability to walk.

A group led by Dr. Thomas Bulea, a biomedical engineer at the NIH Clinical Center, created a wearable exoskeleton for children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder that makes it hard to stand up straight, balance, and walk. The motorized, robotic exoskeleton changes the way the children walk by helping them straighten their knees at key points during the walking cycle. While the exoskeleton can make walking easier, children must be able to navigate at least small distances on their own to use it.

“The ultimate goal really is to have a person wear this outside of our lab, or even outside of the clinical setting,” Bulea explains. “To do that you have to have a really robust control system that makes sure that the robot is behaving properly in all different kinds of environments.”

The team is now writing software so that the robotic device can be worn while navigating bumps in the terrain and other real-world conditions.

Finding the Right Device

“What I try to emphasize to people is that there are a lot of potential tools and technologies at our disposal to try and make people better, and they should explore them and consider embracing them,” Langhals says.

Many types of prosthetic devices are now in development. If you’d like to find a clinical study to help test one, you can search for one in clinicaltrials.gov, a database of both NIH-supported and other studies around the world.

If you’re interested in taking part in a study, talk with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits. See the Ask Your Doctor box for questions to ask.

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To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare.  Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.

Positive Parenting | NIH News in Health

Building Healthy Relationships With Your KidsParents have an important job. Raising kids is both rewarding and challenging. You’re likely to get a lot of advice along the way, from doctors, family, friends, and even strangers. But every parent and child is unique. Being sensitive and responsive to your kids can help you build positive, healthy relationships together.

“Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic, a parent-child relationship expert. “What it means is recognizing what your child needs in the moment and providing that in an effective way.”

This can be especially critical for infants and toddlers, he adds. Strong emotional bonds often develop through sensitive, responsive, and consistent parenting in the first years of life. For instance, holding your baby lovingly and responding to their cries helps build strong bonds.

Building Bonds

Strong emotional bonds help children learn how to manage their own feelings and behaviors and develop self-confidence. They help create a safe base from which they can explore, learn, and relate to others.

Experts call this type of strong connection between children and their caregivers “secure attachment.” Securely attached children are more likely to be able to cope with challenges like poverty, family instability, parental stress, and depression.

A recent analysis shows that about 6 out of 10 children in the U.S. develop secure attachments to their parents. The 4 out of 10 kids who lack such bonds may avoid their parents when they are upset or resist their parents if they cause them more distress. Studies suggest that this can make kids more prone to serious behavior problems. Researchers have been testing programs to help parents develop behaviors that encourage secure attachment.

Being Available

Modern life is full of things that can influence your ability to be sensitive and responsive to your child. These include competing priorities, extra work, lack of sleep, and things like mobile devices. Some experts are concerned about the effects that distracted parenting may have on emotional bonding and children’s language development, social interaction, and safety.

If parents are inconsistently available, kids can get distressed and feel hurt, rejected, or ignored. They may have more emotional outbursts and feel alone. They may even stop trying to compete for their parents’ attention and start to lose emotional connections to their parents.

“There are times when kids really do need your attention and want your recognition,” Crnic explains. Parents need to communicate that their kids are valuable and important, and children need to know that parents care what they’re doing, he says.

It can be tough to respond with sensitivity during tantrums, arguments, or other challenging times with your kids. “If parents respond by being irritable or aggressive themselves, children can mimic that behavior, and a negative cycle then continues to escalate,” explains Dr. Carol Metzler, who studies parenting at the Oregon Research Institute.

According to Crnic, kids start to regulate their own emotions and behavior around age 3. Up until then, they depend more on you to help them regulate their emotions, whether to calm them or help get them excited.

“They’re watching you to see how you do it and listening to how you talk to them about it,” he explains. “Parents need to be good self-regulators. You’re not only trying to regulate your own emotions in the moment, but helping your child learn to manage their emotions and behavior.”

As kids become better at managing their feelings and behavior, it’s important to help them develop coping skills, like active problem solving. Such skills can help them feel confident in handling what comes their way.

“When parents engage positively with their children, teaching them the behaviors and skills that they need to cope with the world, children learn to follow rules and regulate their own feelings,” Metzler says.

“As parents, we try really hard to protect our kids from the experience of bad things,” Crnic explains. “But if you protect them all the time and they are not in situations where they deal with difficult or adverse circumstances, they aren’t able to develop healthy coping skills.”

He encourages you to allow your kids to have more of those experiences and then help them learn how to solve the problems that emerge. Talk through the situation and their feelings. Then work with them to find solutions to put into practice.

Meeting Needs

As children grow up, it’s important to remember that giving them what they need doesn’t mean giving them everything they want. “These two things are very different,” Crnic explains. “Really hone in on exactly what’s going on with your kid in the moment. This is an incredibly important parenting skill and it’s linked to so many great outcomes for kids.”

Think about where a child is in life and what skills they need to learn at that time. Perhaps they need help managing emotions, learning how to behave in a certain situation, thinking through a new task, or relating to friends.

“You want to help kids become confident,” Crnic says. “You don’t want to aim too high where they can’t get there or too low where they have already mastered the skill.” Another way to boost confidence while strengthening your relationship is to let your kid take the lead.

“Make some time to spend with your child that isn’t highly directive, where your child leads the play,” advises Dr. John Bates, who studies children’s behavior problems at Indiana University Bloomington. “Kids come to expect it and they love it, and it really improves the relationship.”

Bates also encourages parents to focus on their child’s actual needs instead of sticking to any specific parenting principles. It’s never too late to start building a healthier, more positive relationship with your child, even if things have gotten strained and stressful.

“Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that you love them and are on their side,” Metzler says. “For older children, let them know that you are genuinely committed to building a stronger relationship with them and helping them be successful.”

By being a sensitive and responsive parent, you can help set your kids on a positive path, teach them self-control, reduce the likelihood of troublesome behaviors, and build a warm, caring parent-child relationship.

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To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare.  Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.

Keeping Up in School? | NIH News in Health

Identifying Learning Problems

Reading, writing, and math are the building blocks of learning. Mastering these subjects early on can affect many areas of life, including school, work, and even overall health. It’s normal to make mistakes and even struggle a little when learning new things. But repeated, long-lasting problems may be a sign of a learning disability.Learning disabilities aren’t related to how smart a child is. They’re caused by differences in the brain that are present from birth, or shortly after.

These differences affect how the brain handles information and can create difficulties with reading, writing, and math.“Typically, in the first few years of elementary school, some children, in spite of adequate instruction, have a hard time and can’t master the skills of reading and writing as efficiently as their peers,” says Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, a child mental health expert at NIH. “So the issue is usually brought up as a learning problem.” In general, the earlier a learning disability is recognized and addressed, the greater the likelihood for success in school and later in life. “Initial screening and then ongoing monitoring of children’s performance is important for being able to tell quickly when they start to struggle,” explains Dr. Brett Miller, a reading and writing disabilities expert at NIH. “If you’re not actively looking for it, you can miss opportunities to intervene early.”

Each learning disability has its own signs. A child with a reading disability may be a poor speller or have trouble reading quickly or recognizing common words. A child with a writing disability may write very slowly, have poor handwriting, or have trouble expressing ideas in writing and organizing text. A math disability can make it hard for a child to understand basic math concepts (like multiplication), make change in cash transactions, or do math-related word problems.Learning difficulties can affect more than school performance. If not addressed, they can also affect health.

A learning disability can make it hard to understand written health information, follow a doctor’s directions, or take the proper amount of medication at the right times. Learning disabilities can also lead to a poor understanding of the benefits of healthy behaviors, such as exercise, and of health risks, such as obesity. This lack of knowledge can result in unhealthy behaviors and increased risk of disease.Not all struggling learners have a disability. Many factors affect a person’s ability to learn. Some students may learn more slowly or need more practice than their classmates. Poor vision or hearing can cause a child to miss what’s being taught. Poor nutrition or exposure to toxins early in life can also contribute to learning difficulties.

If a child is struggling in school, parents or teachers can request an evaluation for a learning disability. The U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act requires that public schools provide free special education support to children, including children with specific learning disabilities, who need such services. To qualify for these services, a child must be evaluated by the school and meet specific federal and state requirements. An evaluation may include a medical exam, a discussion of family history, and intellectual and school performance testing.Many people with learning disabilities can develop strategies to cope with their disorder. A teacher or other learning specialist can help kids learn skills that build on their strengths to counter-balance their weaknesses. Educators may provide special teaching methods, make changes to the classroom, or use technologies that can assist a child’s learning needs.

A child with a learning disability may also struggle with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and frustration. In the case of a math learning disability, math anxiety may play a role in worsening math abilities. A counselor can help children use coping skills and build healthy attitudes about their ability to learn.“If appropriate interventionsActions taken to prevent or treat a disorder or to improve health in other ways. are provided, many of these challenges can be minimized,” explains Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke, a math learning disability expert at NIH. “Parents and teachers should be aware that their own words and behavior around learning and doing math are implicitly learned by the young people around them and may lessen or worsen math anxiety.”

“We often talk about these conditions in isolation, but some people have more than one challenge,” Miller says. Sometimes children with learning disabilities have another learning disorder or other condition, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).“ADHD can be confused with a learning problem,” Vitiello says. ADHD makes it difficult for a child to pay attention, stay focused, organize information, and finish tasks. This can interfere with schoolwork, home life, and friendships. But ADHD is not considered a learning disability. It requires its own treatments, which may include behavior therapy and medications.“Parents play an important role in treatment, especially for children in elementary school,” Vitiello says. Medications and behavioral interventions are often delivered at home. Teachers can usually advise parents on how to help kids at home, such as by scheduling appropriate amounts of time for learning-related activities. Parents can also help by minimizing distractions and encouraging kids to stay on task, such as when doing homework. Effective intervention requires consistency and a partnership between school and home.

Many complex factors can contribute to development of learning disabilities. Learning disorders tend to run in families. Home, family, and daily life also have a strong effect on a child’s ability to learn starting from a very early age. Parents can help their children develop skills and build knowledge during the first few years of life that will support later learning.“Early exposure to a rich environment is important for brain development,” Mann Koepke says. Engage your child in different learning activities from the start. Before they’re even speaking, kids are learning. “Even if it’s just listening and watching as you talk about what you’re doing in your daily tasks,” she says.Point out and talk with children about the names, colors, shapes, sizes, and numbers of objects in their environment. Try to use comparison words like “more than” or “less than.” This will help teach your child about the relationships between things, which is important for learning math concepts, says Mann Koepke. Even basic things, like getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet, can help children’s brain development and their ability to learn.NIH is continuing to invest in research centers that study learning challenges and their treatments, with a special focus on understudied and high-risk groups.

Although there are no “cures,” early interventions offer essential learning tools and strategies to help lessen the effects of learning disabilities. With support from caregivers, educators, and health providers, people with learning disabilities can be successful at school, work, and in their personal lives.

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To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare. Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.

Safeguarding Our Health | NIH News in Health

Vaccines Protect Us All

We share more than food and culture within our homes and communities. We can also spread disease. Luckily, we live in a time when vaccines can protect us from many of the most serious illnesses. Staying current on your shots helps you—and your neighbors—avoid getting and spreading disease.Vaccines have led to large reductions in illness and death for both kids and adults, says Dr. David M. Koelle, a vaccine expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. One study estimated that, among U.S. children born from 1994 to 2013, vaccines will prevent about 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths.

Vaccines harness your immune systemA collection of specialized cells and organs that protect the body against infectious diseases.’s natural ability to detect and destroy disease-causing germs and then “remember” the best way to fight these germs in the future. Vaccination, or immunization, has completely eliminated naturally occurring smallpox worldwide—to the point that we no longer need to get shots against this fast-spreading, deadly disease. Polio has been eliminated in the U.S. and most other nations as well, thanks to immunizations. Poliovirus can affect the brain and spinal cord, leaving people unable to move their arms or legs, or sometimes unable to breathe.

“These childhood diseases used to be dreaded problems that would kill or paralyze children,” says Koelle. “In the 1950s, it was a common occurrence for kids to be fine in the spring, get polio over the summer, and then have to go back to school in the fall no longer able to walk.”

Experts recommend that healthy children and teens get shots against 16 diseases (see Wise Choices box). With these shots, many disabling or life-threatening illnesses have significantly declined in the U.S., including measles, rubella, and whooping cough. But, unlike smallpox, these disease-causing germs, or pathogens, are still causing infections around the world.

“These days, the risks of not being vaccinated in a developed country, like the United States, may seem superficially safe because of low rates of infection due to vaccination and other advances in public health,” Koelle says. “But we live in an era of international travel where we can be exposed to mobile pathogens.” So even if you don’t travel, a neighbor or classmate could go overseas and bring the disease back to your area.

“When the rates of vaccination drop, there can be a resurgence of the disease,” explains Dr. Saad Omer, a global health researcher at Emory University in Atlanta. For instance, measles was completely eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But since then, thousands of cases have occurred, mostly related to travel.

Omer and colleagues examined U.S. reports on measles outbreaks since 2000. “We found that measles cases have occurred mostly in those who are not vaccinated and in communities that have lower rates of vaccination. And that’s true for many vaccine-preventable diseases,” he says. Most of the unvaccinated cases were those who chose not to be vaccinated or not have their children vaccinated for non-medical reasons.

When enough people are vaccinated, the entire community gains protection from the disease. This is called community immunity. It helps to stop the spread of disease and protects the most vulnerable: newborns, the elderly, and people fighting serious illnesses like cancer. During these times, your immune system is often too weak to fend off disease and may not be strong enough for vaccinations. Avoiding exposure becomes key.

“There’s a huge benefit to all of us getting the recommended vaccines,” explains Dr. Martha Alexander-Miller, an immune system expert at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Number one, vaccines protect you. But they also limit the presence of disease-causing entities that are circulating in the community. So, you’re helping to protect individuals who may not be capable of protecting themselves, for example because they are too young to get vaccinated.”

When expectant moms are vaccinated, immune protection can pass through the placenta to the fetus. “Early on, the baby’s immune system is immature. So there’s a period of vulnerability where disease and death can occur,” Omer explains. “But the mother’s own antibodies—proteins formed by her immune system—can protect the baby.”

Doctors recommend that moms-to-be get both flu and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) shots. A mother’s antibodies can help protect the newborn until they can receive their own vaccinations.

Some vaccines must be given before pregnancy. Rubella, for instance, can cause life-altering birth defects or miscarriage if contracted during pregnancy. There’s no treatment, but the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine offers prevention. Vaccines for many other common diseases that put newborns at risk are being studied.

“We’ve made amazing progress in the development of effective vaccines,” says Alexander-Miller. “Our ability to have such breakthroughs is the end result of very basic research that went on for years and years.” NIH-funded scientists continue to search for new ways to stimulate protection against various diseases.

Koelle studies how our bodies fight herpes viruses. There are eight related herpes viruses, but the body responds differently to each one. So far, we only have vaccines for one: varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles.

Koelle’s team is comparing how our immune system responds to chickenpox and the herpes simplex viruses, which cause mouth and genital sores. “We’re hoping to harness the success that has been possible with the chickenpox vaccine and see if we can create a vaccine that would work for both chickenpox and shingles and also herpes simplex,” he says.

Researchers are also working to improve existing vaccines. Some vaccines require a series of shots to trigger a strong immune response. The protection of other vaccines can fade over time, so booster shots may be needed. Some, like the flu vaccine, require a shot each year because the virus changes so that the vaccine no longer protects against new strains. So keeping up with the latest flu vaccines is important.

Ask your doctor’s office whether your vaccinations are current. You may also find records of vaccinations at your state health department or schools. If you can’t find your records, ask your doctor if it’s okay to get a vaccine you might have received before.

Most side effects of vaccines are mild, such as a sore arm, headache, or low-grade fever.

“It can be easy to take vaccines for granted, because you’ll never know all the times you would’ve gotten really sick had you not been vaccinated,” says Alexander-Miller.

Help your community keep diseases at bay: Stay up-to-date with vaccines.

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To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare. Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.

Acne Breakouts | NIH News in Health

Controlling Problem Pimples

Zits. Pimples. Spots. Whatever you call it, acne can cause discomfort and embarrassment. This skin condition affects most people at some point during their lives. About 4 out of every 5 people experience acne outbreaks between the ages of 11 and 30.

Acne starts in the skin’s oil glands. The hair on our bodies comes out through canals from these glands called follicles. Oil glands make oils that emerge to the skin’s surface through the follicles’ openings, or pores, along with the hairs.

Sometimes hair, oil, and dead skin cells come together to plug a follicle. The plugged pore provides the right conditions for bacteria that normally live on the skin to thrive. When the body’s immune systemThe system that protects your body from invading viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic threats. attacks the bacteria, pain and swelling can result. That’s how a pimple forms.

Doctors don’t know why only some people get acne. They do know what raises the risk for acne. Increases in certain hormonesSubstances sent through the bloodstream to signal another part of the body to grow or react a certain way. can cause oil glands to get bigger and make more oil. These hormone levels go up during puberty. Because of this, acne is most common in adolescents and young adults. Hormone changes caused by pregnancy or by starting or stopping birth control pills can also trigger acne.

But people of all ages can get acne. For most, acne goes away by the time they reach their 30s. However, some people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s still get acne. Although acne is usually not a serious health threat, it can be upsetting, and severe acne can lead to permanent scarring.

There are things you can do to prevent acne, explains Dr. Edward Cowen, a skin specialist at NIH. He recommends that people with acne avoid skin products that contain petrolatum, a type of oil. Instead, he says, look for creams and lotions labeled “noncomedogenic.” These are less likely to clog pores. A lot of people think certain foods can cause acne breakouts. However, Cowen explains, research has not been able to confirm this in most cases. See the Wise Choices box for other tips.

While there are plenty of home remedies for acne, Cowen says, it’s better to start with proven over-the-counter treatments for mild acne. These products can contain benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or sulfur.

People with severe acne should discuss prescription drug options with a doctor, he adds. These include antibiotics to kill bacteria or drugs called retinoids, which can be given as a topical to apply to the skin or as an oral medication.

NIH-funded scientists are conducting research to better understand why acne develops and to find better ways to treat the condition.

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To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare. Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.