Eighty percent of teenagers get acne, and many adults struggle with pimples later in life. Acne is not caused by bad personal hygiene, according to the Mayo Clinic, so scrubbing the face with a towel can do more harm than good. However, there are towels made specifically to treat acne that can be part of a pimple prevention program.
Acne is a condition in which blackhead, whiteheads, pimples and other lesions break out on the skin, the Mayo Clinic says. They usually develop on the face, but it's not uncommon to have acne on other body parts such as the neck, chest, back and arms. The pimples can be mild or can develop as large, inflamed cysts.
The Mayo Clinic cites three main causes for acne. The skin produces too much oil, and it sheds skin cells irregularly. This irritates and plugs up hair follicles, which are also called pores, and leads to pimple formation. Bacteria can build up in the blockage and worsen the problem.
Most people use bath towels to dry off after a bath or shower, or after washing their face. You can worsen acne by using the towel in the wrong way. Scrubbing at your skin or rubbing it roughly can irritate it and inflame pimples. Acne.com says rubbing affected skin can force bacteria more deeply into the pores.
The Mayo Clinic advises limiting face washing to once or twice a day with mild soap and water. Pat your face and any other affected areas very gently after washing. The Acne Myths website recommends using organic cotton towels, which don't use chemicals in their production. Organic towels are more gentle on sensitive skin.
Disposable medicated towels are a convenient way to apply acne medications such as salicylic acid. The towels come in an individual use size. Medicated pads are a similar and popular treatment method. Some users prefer towels or pads to squeezing cream from a tube or pumping it out of a bottle. The medication is already pre-measured on the towel and can simply be wiped or patted onto the pimples.
Medicated towels are not an appropriate treatment for all acne cases. Stubborn pimples and cystic acne may need a prescription treatment. The American Academy of Dermatology says severe cases may need medication such as oral antibiotics or isotretinoin, a steroid injection or surgical draining and excision. Severe acne and cystic pimples can cause permanent scars if they are not treated appropriately.