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.”
If you notice that you’re breaking out right around your period every month, your acne might be linked to hormones. “A sensitivity to the hormones called androgens manifests in the form of cystic acne,” Dr. Linkner says. Androgens, namely testosterone, cause the skin to produce more sebum. More sebum equals more acne. Birth control, which has estrogen and progestin, helps keep hormones balanced and skin clear. Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and YAZ are all FDA-approved as acne treatments.
Sometimes birth control alone isn’t enough to really make a difference in hormonal acne. That’s when your doctor might recommend adding in an androgen blocker such as spironalactone. Spiro (as it’s often called) minimizes the amount of androgen hormones in circulation by blocking the receptors that bind with testosterone. When these pills are taken at the same time as an oral contraceptive, many women see an improvement in breakouts, according to Dr. Linkner. The drug is sometimes prescribed to women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) to relieve androgen-related symptoms like excessive hair growth, hypertension, oily skin, and acne.
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!
The only medication that can make an argument that it cures acne is isotretinoin, because research shows it permanently reduces skin oil production and provides "remission" of acne in 66% of people. However, even in the case of isotretinoin, relapse rates may be higher than we think. Also, isotretinoin is recommended only for severe acne that does not respond to other treatments because it comes with a litany of side effects, and leaves the skin and the entire body permanently altered.
For the treatment of face acne, orange peel can be an effective home remedy. Put some orange peels in the sun to dry out. Grind these dried peels into powder. Add water in the powder to make a paste. Apply the paste gently on the acne. Leave it for fifteen minutes and wash it off with warm water. Vitamin C present in orange helps in treating the acne on the face. It also helps in getting rid of pigmentation, blackheads, wrinkles, and dark spots.
Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial ingredient, and it’s very effective at killing the P. acnes bacteria that causes breakouts. But benzoyl isn’t without its downsides. The leave-on creams and cleansing treatments can dry out sensitive skin and bleach clothing if you aren’t careful. Board-certified dermatologist Eric Meinhardt, M.D., previously told SELF that it's best to stick to formulations that have no more than 2 percent of benzoyl peroxide listed on the active ingredients chart; stronger concentrations are harder on your skin without being any tougher on bacteria.
Both photodynamic therapy and laser therapy show potential for long-term reduction in acne, so an argument could be made that they could provide some long-term relief for some people, but not cure. And concerningly, like isotretinoin, these treatments achieve their results primarily through damaging skin oil glands. What damaging these glands will mean to the health and aging of the skin in the long-term remains to be seen, and is a risk.
Salicylic acid and azelaic acid. Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in whole-grain cereals and animal products. It has antibacterial properties. A 20 percent azelaic acid cream seems to be as effective as many conventional acne treatments when used twice a day for at least four weeks. It's even more effective when used in combination with erythromycin. Prescription azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea) is an option during pregnancy and while breast-feeding. Side effects include skin discoloration and minor skin irritation.