How To Treat Acne

Acne is a problem, not only for teenagers, but often for adults as well.  Comedones are what make up acne, in the form of blackheads -- open clogged pores -- or whiteheads, which are almost closed.  There are many different ways to treat acne, and it is important to discover what works for you.

  1. Use a mild cleanser. Since acne starts underneath the skin, washing vigorously cannot cure acne.  Too much or over-enthusiastic cleansing of the skin can actually irritate the skin and any blemishes that already exist, causing more pimples.  Using a mild benzoyl peroxide cleanser or a pH balanced cleanser such as Cetaphil does more to treat acne than any harsh cleanser can.
  2. Exfoliate.  Although not something that can be done every day, exfoliation is another step in treating acne.  Exfoliation with an exfoliating scrub once or twice a week removes dead skin cells and unclogs the skin's pores.
  3. Try benzoyl peroxide.  To treat mild acne, benzoyl peroxide cream or gel can be used to promote pore clearing and skin turnover.  Benzoyl peroxide is available over the counter in 2.5%, 5% and 10% solutions.  Begin with the 2.5% or 5% solution once a day, and increase to twice a day if you need to.  If this does not do the trick, increase to a 10% solution. If your skin gets too dry or irritated, reduce your use of benzoyl peroxide.
  4. Toothpaste might do the trick.  It sounds funny, but putting toothpaste (not the gel form) on your acne can actually temporarily diminish the appearance of acne.  Try putting a small dot of toothpaste on a pimple and covering it with a band-aid or piece of gauze. 
  5. Get a prescription for Retin-A. Retin-A is only available with a doctor's prescription and does have some side effects, but is very effective in treating acne.  Tretinoin, the generic name for Retin-A, increases the turnover of skin cells and prevents new comedones from forming. Retin-A can cause skin to be more sensitive to the sun, so sunscreen should always be used.
  6. Try antibiotics.  Although they do not work for everyone, antibiotics can treat acne when topical acne medications are not effective.  Antibiotics work by killing whitehead-causing bacteria.
  7. Think about Accutane.  Although a controversial drug, Accutane is extremely effecive for treating acne.  Accutane is ideal for acne that causes scarring or cystic acne, which is extremely painful and difficult to treat.  Not all physicians will prescribe Accutane, as it can cause problems in the blood and requires monthly blood testing.  Women are required to use two forms of birth control while on Accutane, as the drug can cause birth defects among many other side effects.
  8. Never pop pimples.  Popping acne pimples not only makes them look worse but can infect the pimples, causing acne to appear even worse. 
  9. Reduce stress.  Stress can both cause acne to worsen and take longer to heal.  When trying to treat acne, it helps to reduce stress.
  10. Drink water.  Drinking enough water is important for health in your entire body, including being good for treating acne.  Water helps eliminate waste and keep skin healthy.

Treating acne can be frustrating, but it is not impossible.  Talk to your doctor and see what options are best for you.


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