Acne is the most common skin problem in the World. It often appears as an outbreak of pimples on your face. But it can also show up on your chest, neck, back, or shoulders.
While you can cover a rash on your chest or arm with clothes, it's hard to hide bumps and blemishes on your face. Plus, they can be painful. They can affect your mood and make you self-conscious.
Acne happens when a pore gets clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It can affect people of all ages. But there are treatments that can help. The trick is finding what works best for you.
You Can Treat Acne At Home
While a pimple will eventually go away, if you have outbreaks a lot, the skin problem that brings it on typically won’t go away by itself. And if you don’t treat it, you could end up with scars.
A skin doctor (dermatologist) can help. They might suggest a cream, lotion, gel, or soap that contains ingredients that can help. Many can be bought without a prescription:
- Aldactone (Spironolactone) blocks excess hormones.
- Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria and removes extra oil.
- Clascoterone (Winlevi) is topical treatment that blocks hormones that cause acne
- Resorcinol is an exfoliant to help unclog blackheads and whiteheads.
- Salicylic acid keeps pores from getting clogged.
- Sulfur removes dead skin cells.
For more serious acne, your doctor may prescribe:
- Antibiotics to kill bacteria
- Birth control pills for women with acne due to hormones
- Isotretinoin to help you make less oil
You may need a combination of oral medicine and a cream or lotion. Don’t stop using your treatments if your skin clears. Stick with it until the doctor tells you to stop. This can help keep acne from coming back.
To Get Started Acne Treatment At Home
Benzoyl peroxide is the first product many people try, because it’s pretty easy on the skin. Typically, you’ll start with a lower strength no matter what medicine you use. This helps you get used to it. Your doctor can tell you if it’s time to try a higher strength or to switch to something different.
Be patient. It can take weeks to see results from any medication. Your acne may look worse before it gets better. Don’t be surprised if you get redness, burning, or dry skin from your acne medicines. If it’s serious, call your doctor.
You may need to try several different medicines before you find what works best for you.
Other Kinds of Treatments At Home
Along with oral medication, lotions, and creams, your doctor may also suggest:
- Laser or other therapies that use light to treat blemishes
- Chemical peels to remove dead skin cells
- Surgical removal of large cysts that can’t be treated with medicine
- Cyst injections with anti-inflammatory cortisone
These treatments can be done in the doctor’s office or as an outpatient at the hospital.
Some people use natural treatments like tea tree oil (works like benzoyl peroxide, but slower) or alpha hydroxy acids (remove dead skin and unclog pores) for their acne care. Not much is known about how well many of these treatments work and their long-term safety. Many natural ingredients are added to acne lotions and creams. Talk to your doctor to see if they’re right for you.
Be Good to Your Skin
Wash the area two times a day. Use a gentle cleanser, not soap. Don’t scrub too hard.
Or try cleansing wipes. These already have cleansers in them and are easy to use, then throw away.
Other skin tips:
- Don’t use too much topical acne medicine -- apply just enough to cover problem areas.
- Many acne medicines (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and tretinoin) make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
- Don’t use oily makeup, sunscreen, or hair products.
- Don’t pick at or squeeze your pimples.
- Keep your hair, hands, and phone off your face.
For men, shaving can irritate your skin and make acne worse. Try an electric razor, or be very careful with a blade.
Skin Care Tips for Your Acne Treatments At Home
Acne may have started in your teen years, that time when age and hormones meet to cause those awful breakouts. Or, you may have begun experiencing acne breakouts in your adult years.
Either way, many people find acne bothersome or embarrassing. To reduce acne and its damage to your skin, follow these tips.
- Choose a cleanser specially formulated for acne. These products often contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help to clear acne sores.
- Clean your face gently, as trauma to the acne breakouts may worsen the acne or cause scarring. When washing your face, use your hands, as any terry cloth or other scrubbing material may cause acne sores to rupture.
- If you need to use a moisturizer, use only light, non-comedogenic moisturizers, which do not aggravate acne. There are oil-free moisturizers on the market that contain antibacterial agents for acne-prone skin. This type of product may be your best option.
- If you wear makeup, use an oil-free foundation. Heavy makeup or other cosmetic products that block pores may cause a flare-up of acne.
- Never pick. Picking can result in further inflammation and possible scarring.