The best way to fix them: Since they’re more closely related to bacteria than your hormones or a lack of exfoliation, papular pustules require a different plan of attack entirely. “Inflammatory acne types really respond to antibiotics, either topical or systemic,” says Dr. Hale. These, of course, require a trip to your dermatologist. To tide you over, you could also try applying hydrocortisone cream, which temporarily takes down redness and swelling. But in the long run, it won’t do much to make these disappear completely or keep them from popping up again.
Use a retinoid. As a Retinoid is a prescription medication in the U.S., be cautious of the side affects before usage. Retinoid cleansers contain high levels of vitamin A, which help to clean out clogged pores and dissolve away You can get a prescription for one from your doctor. Trademarked OTC retinoid-like products are ineffective.
Side effects include increased skin photosensitivity, dryness, redness and occasional peeling. Sunscreen use is often advised during treatment, to prevent sunburn. Lower concentrations of benzoyl peroxide are just as effective as higher concentrations in treating acne but are associated with fewer side effects. Unlike antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide does not appear to generate bacterial antibiotic resistance.
^ Jump up to: a b Rolfe, HM (December 2014). “A review of nicotinamide: treatment of skin diseases and potential side effects”. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (Review). 13 (4): 324–8. doi:10.1111/jocd.12119. PMID 25399625.
Antibiotics do not address the other causative factors in acne and may take several weeks or months to clear it up. Antibiotics are often used in combination with other drugs that “unclog” follicles. Many oral antibiotics for acne should not be used during pregnancy.
Spot treat with acne medication cream. Since you are already using salicylic acid to wash and moisturize, use a different medicine for spot treatment, such as 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. Do not use 5% or 10% benzoyl peroxide if you have extremely sensitive skin because this will increase irritation. If you’re sensitive to benzoyl peroxide, a 10% sulfur solution may work for you instead.
We also like the Dermalogica Clear Start Kit — in fact, we liked it so much, it almost made our top pick until we realized that the company only sells kits with travel-sized products. At $42, it’s not the cheapest of our recommendations, and if you buy the five products separately (so you have more than a few days’ supply), you’ll be paying closer to $100. But if you’re able to spend more on your skin care, we loved the combination of active and natural ingredients. For a less expensive option, there’s also the Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy System, which contains a cleanser, control lotion, and sunscreen for just $24.
This variety of pore strip from Biore uses purifying charcoal powder to draw oil and impurities out of the pores, leaving pores smaller and skin smoother. They’re only recommended for use on the nose and should be used twice a week at most.
Zaenglein AL, Graber EM, et al. “Acne vulgaris and acneiform eruptions.” In: Wolff K. et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th edition. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., USA, 2008:696-700.
Moore A, Ling M, Bucko A, Manna V, Rueda MJ. Efficacy and Safety of Subantimicrobial Dose, Modified-Release Doxycycline 40 mg Versus Doxycycline 100 mg Versus Placebo for the treatment of Inflammatory Lesions in Moderate and Severe Acne: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Controlled Study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jun. 14 (6):581-6. [Medline].