How To Treat Acne
Before you decide how to treat your acne you should identify the type and severity of it, so that you can make a better decision. You can use the article, “What is acne?”, to identify the type and severity.
When treating acne there are basically 2 things that you want to do:
- Unplug the skin pores (to regain normal oil and skin cell production)
- Kill the bacteria (to reduce redness and inflammation)
For mild to moderate acne:
If you have mild acne, good skin care and use of over the counter acne treatment products will usually help keep acne under control.
Treatments containing Salicylic Acid will unplug the skin pores.
Treatments containing Benzoyl Peroxide will kill the bacteria.
Both are non-prescription ingredients that can help improve mild acne…
Salicylic acid is a great treatment for acne.
- Removes dead skin cells from inside the pore and the surface of the skin
- Is also an anti-inflammatory because it’s derived from aspirin, so it reduces redness
- Is best for blackheads and large inflamed spots on all types of skin, especially skin prone to oil and redness
The percentage can range from .05% to 2%.
For mild acne .05% to 1% is fine.
For more stubborn moderate acne look for 2%.
Salicylic acid works best in a leave-on product like a toner, gel, or lotion.
Benzoyl Peroxide is a great treatment for killing the bacteria that causes acne and inflammation.
- Kills the bacteria inside the skin pores
- Works best on whiteheads
- Safe for all skin (people who are sensitive should only use as a spot treatment)
The percentage ranges from 2.5% to 10%.
Always start with lowest concentration, and work your way up if your skin doesn’t respond.
Words of Caution About Benzoyl Peroxide:
- Starting higher percentages right away can result in irritation and flaky, dry skin
- People who are sensitive should only use as a spot treatment
- Can bleach clothing or fabric
For moderate to severe acne:
A combination of topical Retinoids and Antibiotics are a common treatment for moderate to severe acne.
- Retinoids unclog the skin pores
- Antibiotics kill the bacteria
Topical retinoids are available as a prescription medication or as an over-the-counter acne treatment.
Antibiotics are only available as a prescription medication.
When spread on the skin, retinoids can unclog pores, allowing other medicated creams and gels to work better.
They also reduce acne outbreaks by preventing dead cells from clogging pores.
Antibiotics kill bacteria or prevent them from growing.
They require a prescription because if taken improperly, may cause the bacteria to become resistant.
How long do acne treatments take to work?
For mild to moderate acne it takes a few weeks. You should allow 6-8 weeks to see results with over-the-counter acne treatments.
For moderate to severe acne it takes 2-3 months.
Depending on your genetic makeup you may see results in less time.
You may see your acne get worse during this time. This is normal. You should see your acne improve if you continue applying your treatment.
It is also important to continue using your treatment after you have seen that your acne condition has gone away to maintain good functioning of the skin and to prevent future outbreaks.