How to Handle It: If you've tried the usual anti-acne ingredients, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (which, we should warn you, rarely work for this), you should consider paying your dermatologist a visit. "You may need a cortisone injection or an oral medication, like an antibiotic, in addition to topical formulas," says Zeichner. He's also a fan of a prescription topical medication called Epiduo Forte Gel, since, he says, it's been shown to be effective at controlling severe acne without the help of oral treatments.
-Chemical exfoliants like BHAs (salicylic acid is one, which can be found in willow bark extractions for those who prefer natural) sink down INTO the skin and work to dissolve the gunk trapped in your pores. Word of warning, though, if you begin using BHAs: it’s common for it to cause a session of “purging” that lasts for up to two weeks at most, which means your skin can have more acne than usual. This SOUNDS terrible, but it’s actually a good thing– it means it’s working and causing all of the gross, deep-embedded pustules to come to the surface where they’ll be healed. Once the purging session is over, you should have drastically reduced amounts of acne as long as you keep up with your BHAs to ensure no more acne can form.