The first part of any treatment plan is diagnosis. Understanding how to treat acne truly starts with understanding acne itself. Self-diagnosing your acne can be a good start, but with severe cases, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with a licensed dermatologist.
If you’re suffering from this problem for a long time, use a medicated cream that contains benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The home remedies mentioned above also work well in managing and preventing acne.
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Use oil-free makeup. If you wear makeup, you may be stuck in a vicious cycle of covering acne while simultaneously causing it with your cover-up usage. Find acne-fighting oil-free mineral makeup to help prevent worsening your acne while simply trying to hide it. Power foundations are also recommended. When possible, avoid wearing make-up at all though as it clogs your pores over the course of the day.
When you first feel a pimple forming, try makeup artist Matin Maulawizada’s trick: Press it with a cotton swab soaked in witch hazel, then with another one soaked in eye drops containing a gentle anti-inflammatory, like Visine Maximum Redness Relief Formula. Dab a medicated concealer, like BareMineral’s Blemish Remedy Concealer. Once a pimple is in full bloom, it can cast a shadow, so try a different method: Brush on a mattifying primer, like the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer, before applying your foundation. Then pat on an opaque, full-coverage concealer. (We love the Reader’s Choice Award-winning Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer). Set it with loose translucent powder. If you have acne scars you want to cover up, reach for an eyeliner brush. “It’s perfect for maneuvering inside depressions,” says makeup artist Joanna Schlip. Run the brush over a stick concealer and coat the inside of the scar. This hides the shadows that make these scars appear more recessed. Then you can follow with a mattifying liquid foundation.
“Anyone taking [isotretinoin] really needs to be counseled properly about all of these risks,” Alexiades-Armenakas says. The drug also impairs wound healing, so if a patient with severe cystic acne begins taking the drug, those cysts typically resolve with scars. “It gets rid of the underlying problem, but you’re almost guaranteed to heal with scars if you’re at that level of inflammation when you start taking [isotretinoin].”
Long used to treat high blood pressure, prescription Aldactone (spironolactone) is now getting a second life as a treatment for hormonal acne. The drug (a tablet taken orally) blocks receptors of the hormone androgen, helping to limit the testosterone surges that can prompt pimples.
But know that the cheaper price point isn’t free of drawbacks. The Neutrogena kit misses the mark with its Skin Polishing Acne Cleanser. It’s the only product in the kit with salicylic acid, and you end up washing it all off anyway. A recent “formula improvement” in the acne control lotion has left customers leaving less-than-pleased comments on the Neutrogena website, too.
Dermatologists today also have advanced ways to treat scarring, including chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser technologies. And they’re generally more cognizant of the psychological damage that acne can inflict.
Acne can appear as several types of pimples, and they can be divided into two main types: inflammatory and non‑inflammatory.7 Non‑inflammatory acne includes blackheads and whiteheads.2,7 Inflammatory acne includes papules and pustules, as well as more severe types of acne like nodules and cystic acne, which can be more difficult to treat.4,7,8 A dermatologist is the best resource to treat all types of acne. Talk to your dermatologist to learn more.