If you've found yourself hoping and wishing for clear skin and wondering how to get rid of acne, you're definitely not alone! It's almost a rite of passage for teens, up to 85 percent of whom will suffer pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, cysts or pustules. Some grow out of it, but not all; acne is the most common skin condition in the US and affects up to 50 million Americans annually. And acne is more than an inconvenience. It can cause both physical and psychological problems including permanent scarring of the skin, poor self-image and low self-esteem, and depression and anxiety. Here you'll learn how to prevent acne, the best acne treatment for your skin, the best acne products, home remedies for acne and so much more. Let's start by having a look at what causes acne and how the many different types of acne affect your skin in different ways.
Derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant of Australia, tea tree oil is an excellent antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral essential oil. As such, not only for acne scars, tea tree oil is, in fact, one of the best remedies for acne too. As far as scars are concerned, this oil is most beneficial in healing the hypertrophic scars that are generally raised and red, such as those we get after burn injury or a surgery. Raised acne scars too are not very uncommon. So if you have such raised or hypertrophic acne scars, you can effectively use tea tree oil to heal them. Tea tree oil, due to its anti-inflammatory effects would definitely help you in getting rid of such acne scars. This oil is also hydrating. It provides moisture and helps hydrate the scar which gradually diminishes the scar and make it disappear.
Acne treatment that you apply to the skin: Most acne treatments are applied to the skin. Your dermatologist may call this topical treatment. There are many topical acne treatments. Some topicals help kill the bacteria. Others work on reducing the oil. The topical medicine may contain a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic, or even salicylic acid. Your dermatologist will determine what you need.
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Old marks still sticking around take patience and consistency to treat. One way to even out skin tone over time is with regular exfoliating. "[Exfoliating] is important in treating acne scars at home as it lifts dead skin and allows new skin to grow and proliferate," Dr. Moy explains. This exfoliator contains papaya enzymes to break down dead skin cells and microderm crystals to buff away acne scars. Aloe vera, coconut, and vitamins E and B nourish the skin simultaneously.
Glycolic acid: A true magic maker, glycolic acid is the smallest acid in size, meaning it’s able to penetrate deeply into the skin’s pores to do its work. It breaks apart the cellular glue holding dead skin cells together to reveal a fresher, brighter complexion. It also promotes cellular turnover by boosting collagen and elastin, helping your skin regenerate and repair itself.
The process involves first removing makeup with an emollient formula—I use her Soothing Aloe Cleansing Milk, which looks and feels like lotion—on dry skin for 30 seconds, then rinsing and follow with another cleanser. Rouleau's AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser has been my lifesaver, it's a blend of salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids, plus jojoba beads for physical exfoliation. It sloughs away residue and oil and targets pimples, blackheads, and leftover scarring. I always followed this with Rouleau's Balancing Skin Tonic before applying any other layers.
The exact cause of rosacea is still unknown. The basic process seems to involve dilation of the small blood vessels of the face. Currently, health researchers believe that rosacea patients have a genetically mediated reduction in the ability to dampen facial inflammation that is incited by environmental factors such as sunburn, demodicosis (Demodex folliculorum in the hair follicles), flushing, and certain medications. Rosacea tends to affect the "blush" areas of the face and is more common in people who flush easily. Additionally, a variety of triggers is known to cause rosacea to flare. Emotional factors (stress, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc.) may trigger blushing and aggravate rosacea. Changes in the weather, like strong winds, or a change in the humidity can cause a flare-up. Sun exposure and sun-damaged skin is associated with rosacea. Exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking, emotional upsets, and spicy food are other well-known triggers that may aggravate rosacea. Many patients may also notice flares around the holidays, particularly Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Prescription Medications. Medications that affect hormones, like birth control pills, can help control acne. You might also discuss antibiotic pills and prescription retinoids with your dermatologist. There are also antibiotics that are effective. Doctors may prescribe Aldactone (spironolactone), which was first made to treat high blood pressure, to treat acne. "That works miracles but it can take three months to kick in," Day says. Isotretinoin is another prescription drug for acne, but you can't take it if you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
2. You're OD'ing on spot treatments. Overusing topical salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulphur over-the-counter treatments can dry out your skin, causing it to produce more oil and possibly blemishes. Those ingredients can actually make the appearance of your pimples look worse, since the active ingredients can slightly burn the top layer of your skin if used too often, making the pimple appear even redder and harder to conceal than if you had just left it alone. (Tip via Samantha Wright, a licensed aesthetician and Skinovator at the Dangene Institute.)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the newly available treatments. PDT uses a topical photosensitizer liquid that one applies to the skin and a light to activate the sensitizer. Levulan (aminolevulinic acid) and blue light, commonly used to treat pre-cancers (actinic keratosis) and acne vulgaris, can treat some rosacea patients. The use of PDT in rosacea is off-label, since it is primarily designed for regular acne. PDT works at reducing the inflammation; PDT is performed in a physician's office. The treatment takes anywhere from one to one and a half hours to complete. Strict sun avoidance for approximately one to three days is required after the treatment. Mild discomfort during the treatment and a mild to moderate sunburn appearance after the treatment is common. Some patients have experienced remissions (disease-free periods) of several months to years from these types of treatments. Other patients may not notice significant improvement.
When answering the question "why does stress cause acne?", it is important to note that stress is not the definitive catalyst for breakouts, but rather a factor that worsens a previously existing condition. When stress levels are consistently heightened, adrenal glands signal the production of the male hormone androgen, which signals sebaceous oil glands to secrete more sebum. As this excess oil builds up, acne is more likely to develop. As women produce a larger percentage of androgens in the adrenal gland than men, stress more commonly has an affectation on acne frequency in women.
90. If you’re going to pop a pimple at home, do it the right way. Sterilize your hands and a small needle with rubbing alcohol, then gently puncture the whitehead of the pimple, just enough to break the skin. Using a clean cotton swab, press on either side of the pimple until it’s drained. Cover with a bandage to keep the area clean while it’s healing.
When it comes to acne scars — especially difficult to treat indented or raised ones — the best offense is a good defense. If you’re still struggling with active acne and want to avoid future scarring, Avram likes this drugstore-staple Neutrogena wash because it contains salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that he says “exfoliates the skin, softens the appearance of the acne itself, and has some antibacterial properties.”
Clear, perfect, glowy skin is pretty much a magical unicorn we’ve been chasing since we hit puberty. We love to believe it exists, but for most of us it’s a myth that only exists in fairy tales. And, honestly, the internet doesn’t help much. There are so many supposedly “natural” DIYs floating around the World Wide Web, it’s hard to tell what treatments and tips are real—and what’s a bunch of BS.
"Hyperpigmentation is an increase of melanin, which is the substance that colors the skin," says Dr. Sobel. Hyperpigmentation often clears up on its own. However if you want to speed up the process, you can use topical treatments with ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and kojic acid, which can help brighten skin overall. We like Sunday Riley Sleeping Night Oil ($105, sephora.com) and InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum ($17, amazon.com). The most important thing is to stay out of the sun to keep the dark spots from getting even deeper in color.
Another source of hormonal changes: stress. Whether you work full time, are a full-time mom, or juggle both, chances are, your stress levels are high. "When you're stressed, you have an organ called the adrenal gland that makes the stress hormone cortisol, and puts it out into the body to help the body deal with stress," Dr. Schultz explains. Unfortunately, a tiny bit of testosterone leaks out with it. For a woman, this male hormone can drive the oil glands to produce more oil—the root cause of breakouts. (Thanks a lot, hormones!)
The best way to fix them: This is where the classic zit treatments come into play. "Topical medications are the best way to treat a lesion like this," says Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. "Benzoyl peroxide-, salicylic acid-, or sulfur-based products can help to dry it up." She prefers salicylic acid over benzoyl peroxide for these, since the latter can cause irritation, dryness, and even post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (a.k.a. dark spots) in those with darker skin tones. Retinol works well for these, too.
16. Know this quick fix. If you wake up the day before school starts with a big honking zit, your doc may be able to help. If you can swing it, your best bet is to head to the dermatologist. "There is an almost immediate fix, and that's an injection with a dilute strength of cortisone done by your dermatologist," says Dr. Robin Evans, a dermatologist at SoCo Dermatology in Connecticut. "It's quick and easy, with minimal discomfort, and it usually goes down within a day." This isn't an easy or cheap option, obvi, but when it's an emergency — like, you have a huge whitehead on the tip of your nose the day before senior portraits — it might be worth it.
Zinc sulfate: This is one of the ultimate minerals for those wondering how to get rid of acne scars. Zinc’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the swelling and redness of your bumps and blemishes. It also promotes faster wound healing, in addition to aiding vitamin A transportation throughout the bloodstream. Find it in your fruits and veggies or listed as an ingredient in a potent product.
Unwashed sheets and pillowcases lead to cross contamination which leads to pimples. Aim to wash your bedding once or twice a week to prevent bacteria from building up and affecting your complexion, suggests Dr. Papantoniou. If that seems overboard, at least aim to wash your pillowcase once a week since that's where your face rests while you snooze (and dream of flawless skin).