If you have acne, you're probably looking for any way to prevent it: creams, prescriptions, diet -- the list goes on. You may also have heard of a free, readily available acne remedy: the sun. Unfortunately, it's not a remedy you really want to try.

Many people believe that lying out in the sun and getting a tan may help treat acne. Since getting a tan can help hide the discoloration acne can cause, and sun exposure sometimes dries up excess oil, it may look like the sun is helping to clear up the skin. However, both of these benefits are temporary -- and once they disappear, acne can flare up and even worsen because of the damage caused by ultraviolet light.

Breakouts aren't the only problem, though. Ultraviolet light also creates free radicals, which are associated with cancer and aging, in your skin [source: University of Michigan Health System]. This means that using sun exposure to treat acne puts you at risk for premature wrinkles, sun damage and cancer.

If you're trying to treat your acne, talk to your doctor about a safe plan to help your skin. While there are light treatments that may help control acne, these rely on lasers -- not the sun -- and they're performed in controlled medical conditions [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. And whether you're worried about acne or not, you should protect your skin when spending time in the sun.

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