According to a 2016 review of research that examined how diet may impact breakouts, researchers concluded that “compelling evidence shows that high glycemic load diets may exacerbate acne.” Foods high on the glycemic index (GI) tend to be higher in refined carbs, like those found in white bread. Scientists suspect that raised insulin levels from the carbs may trigger a release of hormones that inflame follicles and increase oil production.
What's Going On: Do you tend to get these at the same time every month — say, just before you get your period? Because these are the work of fluctuating hormones, says Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Hormones can put oil production into overdrive, and having an excess of it means that it’s more likely to settle in your pores and cause zits.
-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.
Oral medications: Doctors may start antibiotic treatment with tetracycline (Sumycin) or one of the related "cyclines," such as doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox, and others) and minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin). Other oral antibiotics that are useful for treating acne are cefadroxil (Duricef), amoxicillin (Amoxil, DisperMox, Trimox), and the sulfa drugs.
Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties to help with inflamed cystic breakouts that can occur when blockages deep in the hair follicles rupture beneath the skin. Although it's totally fine to use salicylic acid in a face wash, you may find that you have better results when using it as a toner, moisturizer, or leave-on spot treatment because these give it more time to do its work. And keep in mind, salicylic acid can dry out the skin if over-applied, so it may be wise to choose only one product with the ingredient to use every day.
“Sometimes I see people try over-the-counter products just for a couple of weeks, they get frustrated, they say it’s not working, and they discontinue them,” Arthur says. “But it really does take a while to see the effectiveness. So unless you’re having a problem with the medication, like it’s causing severe irritation or dryness, it’s recommended to give it at least 2-3 months before switching to something else.”
Remember, fighting acne requires both external treatment and an internal treatment. Live probiotics support healthy digestion and immune system functioning, plus improves skin health by fighting acne. According to a recent study published in Dermatology Online Journal, researchers indicate that probiotic foods and supplements are promising and safe home remedies for acne. (15) The study indicates that larger trials are still needed, but evidence thus far is promising for using probiotics to improve gut health and fight acne.
The side effects depend on the type of treatment you use. Generally, for topical, over-the-counter creams, you can watch out for stinging, redness, irritation and peeling — these side effects usually don’t go any deeper than the skin. Others, like oral antibiotics or hormonal medications, could come with new sets of complications, so we suggest talking to your doctor before pursuing the treatment.
Blue light rays penetrate follicles to kill off acne-causing bacteria. For severe cases, photodynamic therapy adds a topical solution called Levulan to blue light therapy. Note that these treatments can cause temporary redness and may not be covered by insurance. Prices vary greatly depending on the location and severity of acne, but can cost at least $50 for one blue light treatment and $100 or more per photodynamic therapy session. Most patients will need multiple treatments to see effective results, but many dermatologists offer package deals.
You can use pure apple cider vinegar (with the mother culture) as your evening and morning toner. Apple cider vinegar is packed with potassium, magnesium, acetic acid and various enzymes that kill bacteria on the skin. Chronic acne can be the result of bacteria and fungi that continue to spread and grow on the surface of the skin. With a cotton ball, smooth ACV over skin paying particular attention to active breakouts and acne prone areas.
Hi – I’m a 37 year old female wit hormonal cystic acne. I know I’m going to catch some heat for this BUT I have had cystic acne for the past 2-3 years. When I tell you that I tried EVERYTHING please believe me. I’ve spent so much money on acne products, I probably could’ve paid off my car! Two months ago, I decided to try an old remedy that I used when I was in middle school – rubbing alcohol. Yes, it can be damaging to the skin but understand that I exfoliate and moisturize daily. Sorry if this is TMI, but my monthly came on last night – the root cause of my acne along with my hair rubbing along my face when it is not in a pony tail. Two days ago, I felt two painful, itchy cysts developing. I attacked both of them with rubbing alcohol.
How to Handle It: Your best bet is benzoyl peroxide. "Benzoyl peroxide can kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation," says Zeichner. Try a cream like the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual-Action Acne Treatment ($37), which also exfoliates with lipo-hydroxy acid. Be aware that it can seriously dry out skin so moisturize well after you use it.
If you’ve ever suffered from acne in the past, then you’re probably wondering how to get rid of acne scars that can remain for months or even years. Treating acne scars takes patience and perseverance. The sooner you start treating a scar, the better possible results. The vast majority of individuals who get acne will experience some degree of scarring. The most important thing you can do to prevent scarring? During a breakout, never pick or pop pimples, whiteheads or blackheads!
Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs. These come as creams, gels and lotions. Retinoid drugs are derived from vitamin A and include tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A, others), adapalene (Differin) and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage). You apply this medication in the evening, beginning with three times a week, then daily as your skin becomes used to it. It works by preventing plugging of the hair follicles.