Steps you can take to help your acne:
- Clean your skin gently with a mild, nondrying soap (such as Dove, Neutrogena, Cetaphil, CeraVe, or Basics).
- Look for water-based or "noncomedogenic" formulas for cosmetics and skin creams. (Noncomedogenic products have been tested and proven not to clog pores and cause acne in most people.)
- Remove all dirt or make-up. Wash once or twice a day, including after exercising.
- Avoid scrubbing or repeated skin washing.
- Shampoo your hair daily, especially if it is oily.
- Comb or pull your hair back to keep the hair out of your face.
What NOT to do:
- Try not to aggressively squeeze, scratch, pick, or rub the pimples. This can lead to skin infections, slower healing, and scarring.
- Avoid wearing tight headbands, baseball caps, and other hats.
- Avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers.
- Avoid greasy cosmetics or creams.
- DO NOT leave make-up on overnight.
If these steps do not clear up the blemishes, try over-the-counter acne medicines that you apply to your skin. Follow the directions carefully and apply these products sparingly.
- These products may contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, adapalene, or salicylic acid.
- They work by killing bacteria, drying up skin oils, or causing the top layer of your skin to peel.
- They may cause redness, drying, or excessive peeling of the skin.
- Be aware that benzoyl peroxide containing preparations can bleach or discolor towels and clothing.
A small amount of sun exposure may improve acne slightly, but tanning mostly hides the acne. Too much exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays is not recommended because it increases the risk for skin cancer.
MEDICINES FROM YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
If pimples are still a problem, a provider can prescribe stronger medicines and discuss other options with you.
Antibiotics may help some people with acne:
- Oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, erythromycin, trimethoprim, and amoxicillin
- Topical antibiotics (applied to the skin) such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or dapsone
Creams or gels applied to the skin may be prescribed:
- Derivatives of vitamin A such as retinoic acid cream or gel (tretinoin, Retin-A)
- Prescription formulas of benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid
- Topical azelaic acid
For women whose acne is caused or made worse by hormones:
- A pill called spironolactone may help.
- Birth control pills may help in some cases, though they may make acne worse in some women.
Minor procedures or treatments may also be helpful:
- Photodynamic therapy may be used. This is a treatment where a chemical that is activated by blue light is applied to the skin, followed by exposure to the light.
- Your provider may also suggest chemical skin peeling; removal of scars by dermabrasion; or removal, drainage, or injection of cysts with cortisone.
People who have cystic acne and scarring may try a medicine called isotretinoin (Accutane). You will be watched closely when taking this medicine because of its side effects.
Pregnant women should NOT take Accutane, because it causes severe birth defects.
- Women taking Accutane must use 2 forms of birth control before starting the drug and enroll in the iPledge program.
- Men also need to be enrolled in the iPledge program.
- Your provider will follow you on this drug and you will have regular blood tests.