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Benzoyl peroxide attacks the P. acnes bacteria. However, one of its main side effects is dryness: If you’re going to use anything with benzoyl peroxide, make sure to moisturize afterwards. Sulfur and azelaic acid are less common and less severe alternatives to benzoyl peroxide. Dr. Peter Lio, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University, says sulfur-based treatments are “a good fit for patients who can’t tolerate the side effects of benzoyl peroxide.”
Everyone’s skin is different, so keep in mind that effectively treating acne breakouts at home requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The home remedies for acne described below can be used in combination to provide the best results. However, keep in mind that while you overcome acne it’s also very important to avoid the biggest mistakes that can make skin irritation or scarring worse:
The skin care products you apply to your face regularly can have a big impact on your complexion. You shouldn’t skip moisturizing if you have acne, especially if you’re using drying treatments—but the type of moisturizer you use can make a difference. “Even acne-prone teenagers need to moisturize to keep their skin barrier healthy. The skin barrier can become damaged from drying acne products and medications,” Arielle Kauvar, MD, director of New York Laser & Skin Care and clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine, recently told Prevention.
Everyone's skin is different, so the routine and facial cleanser that works for your best friend probably won't work for you. "It is always best to see a dermatologist to determine a best skin routine as often times prescription products are needed as well," says board certified dermatologist and medical director and founder of California Dermatology Specialists, Dr. Eric Meinhardt.
And if you thought blackheads and whiteheads were annoying, the deep painful pimples that often pop up in adult acne are much more aggravating—and harder to get rid of. So, we talked to dermatologists to find out which acne treatments are the most effective on all types of pimples. Keep reading to learn what causes acne in the first place, plus the best acne treatments worth spending your hard-earned dollars on.
How to Handle It: Think of these as bigger, pissed-off whiteheads. Your best bet, says Zeichner, is to stock up on benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria. A spot treatment like Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix ($22) should do the trick. Also, try not to pop them — as tempting as that may be. Since they're inflamed, they're more likely to scar if you go the DIY route.
If you find that acne appears around your hairline, commercial hair products may be to blame. Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, gels and mousses contain acne-causing ingredients, including petroleum, parabens, silicone, sulfates, panthenol and other chemicals. Try my Homemade Honey Citrus Shampoo that is void of harmful chemicals and leaves hair soft and manageable. Follow with a touch of coconut oil or my Homemade Conditioner made from apple cider vinegar and essential oils.
Anyone who's ever had a pimple (so basically, everyone) knows what a struggle it is to get rid of them. Your best bet is to stop acne before it even starts by eating right and making sure you keep your face clean. If you do happen to have a breakout, don't stress! Visit your dermatologist and let them help you figure out a skincare routine that's perfect for you. And most importantly, be patient! "Don't panic if the cream that your dermatologist gave you doesn't dissolve the zit in one or two days," says dermatologist Margaret Ravits, M.D. Your face will clear up in time… and don't forget the moisturizer!
Oral contraceptives can help normalize hormonal surges and regulate monthly cycles so that oil glands don’t go into overdrive, says Dr. Zeichner. Doctors may prescribe one of four brands of birth control pills—Yaz, Beyaz, Estrostep, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen—that are FDA approved for treating acne. As always, patients taking oral contraceptives should be aware of potential birth control side effects, including blood clots or vaginal dryness.
Papaya is a natural remedy for the acne problems. It is an essential ingredient in various beauty products. Raw papaya, when used on face, removes dead cells and extra oil from the skin. The enzyme papain in papaya helps in preventing the formation of pus. Mash some papaya pulp and apply it on the face. Leave it for 15-20 minutes. Rinse your face with clean water and pat dry. This is a good acne remedy that work.
Conventional Dairy: Even though you are not lactose intolerant, conventional dairy products can be harsh to digest for your system. Most of the people have seen improvement once they eliminated the diary products for 2 weeks in their food routine. You can check it as well to know if dairy is the main culprit for your acne. After resolving the acne, you can either avoid dairy completely or re-introduce slowly back into your food routine. A better quality dairy food can be of a much help.
We suggest avoiding spot treatments. “Benzoyl peroxide, when placed on red spots, can actually cause more irritation and inflammation to the area. It’s best used to prevent red bumps and pustules, and applied all over the area you want to treat,” said Townsend, who was also quick to naysay a spot-treat-only approach: “Acne affects all of the pores. If someone is going to spot treat against my advice, I still suggest they spot treat one day and treat the whole face the next.”
This is a wonderful fact that toothpaste is also useful in treating acne. It is one of the best and simplest home remedies for acne. Simply apply some toothpaste on acne and leave it overnight. The toothpaste will effectively reduce the swelling of acne. It will also dry out the acne. For its effective results, practise the method daily and see the difference in two or three days.
Our favorite for banishing blemishes on the fly, Glossier's zit stick is not only effective, but it's portable. Just stash it in your purse for any unexpected breakouts! Packed with acne-fighting benzoyl peroxide, this convenient roll-on works extremely quickly. In a clinical trial, 83% of test subjects said that it lessened the appearance of pimples in just 3 hours. We've tried it ourselves and can confirm the 3-hour claim is true.
Light treatments: Recent years have brought reports of success in treating acne using special lights and similar devices, alone or in conjunction with photosensitizing dyes. It appears that these treatments are safe and can be effective, but it is not clear that their success is lasting. At this point, laser treatment of acne is best thought of as an adjunct to conventional therapy, rather than as a substitute.
Warning: Sulfur smells like rotten eggs. But it is an effective ingredient at drying up pus-filled pimples and whiteheads (you’ve gotta take the good with the bad). It works by sucking up the oil. Sulfur is typically mixed with other active ingredients to get the most efficacy and fragrances to mask the strong scent. You can often find it in masks and spot treatments.
Stronger cases may call for prescription retinoids (such as Retin-A or Tazorac), which “are really the standard of care for most acne therapy,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Certain drugs, such as Epiduo and Ziana, combine retinoids with antibacterials and may be more effective than separate products. Because retinoids also have anti-wrinkle properties (they help stimulate collagen production), they are especially beneficial for adult acne sufferers.
Laser resurfacing involves directing concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin. This procedure may be used to reduce wrinkles, blemished, or acne scars. There are two types of lasers commonly used in laser resurfacing: carbon dioxide and erbium. Treated areas heal in 10-21 days. Possible complications include milia, hyperpigmentation, and swelling.
Shah often recommends over-the-counter retinols or prescription retinoids to her acne-prone patients. “I find that, compared to other treatments, they are beneficial for not just treating acne but also preventing new acne from forming as they help prevent that initial stage of the follicle getting clogged,” she says. “They can also help with some of the post-acne [problems], such as hyperpigmentation.”