"Overwashing your face can make acne worse," Dr. Kazin explains. Cleansing more than twice a day is too much and can just dry out skin, "which can cause [it] to produce more oil to overcompensate." Your Clarisonic addiction may not be helping either. "It helps remove all makeup and helps your cleanser work better, but I worry about the coarse ones. It's almost like giving yourself microdermabrasion twice a day, which can cause a breakout," says Dr. Kazin. Dr. Schultz seconds that: "Anything that rubs skin will, to a small extent, promote acne." That includes a grainy or gritty cleanser, too. Try these two gentle face washes instead: Phace Bioactive Detoxifying Gel Cleanser or Frank Body Creamy Face Cleanser.
Another study focused in on dairy. In 2005, an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology took on milk and milk products. By examining the diets of 47,355 women, researchers observed a significant connection between milk and dairy intake and breakouts. Some researchers believe this is caused by high levels of hormones found in our milk products. Much of the milk consumed is produced by pregnant cows, who pump out progesterone, IGF-1, and other compounds that are then passed into the milk. We may also be subject to Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). These hormones can signal the oil glands to start producing more sebum, which can affect acne. Unfortunately, switching to organic milk doesn’t seem to make a difference, and neither do skim milk options. In fact, skim milk has been observed to worsen the skin, which researches have attributed to lower levels of estrogen and different processing activities. Milk is also known to contain a number of vitamins, some good and some not so beneficial to your skin. Research has shown a correlation between acne and vitamin A in milk. 
Acne removal: Your dermatologist may perform a procedure called “drainage and extraction” to remove a large acne cyst. This procedure helps when the cyst does not respond to medicine. It also helps ease the pain and the chance that the cyst will leave a scar. If you absolutely have to get rid of a cyst quickly, your dermatologist may inject the cyst with medicine.
Your doctor might recommend an injectable treatment called a filler. "Mainly, I treat acne scars with hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Restylane, but not all acne scars respond to this sort of treatment," Schlessinger says. "Additionally, I personally find that Accutane has a remarkable effect on acne scars if it is prescribed early on in the course of a scarring acne."
"Jessner Peels help to reduce acne lesions overnight by drying them out. They also help to remove the top layers of the skin that cause dry skin and acne flareups. It's important to note that the use of retin-A may cause the acids in the peel to intensify, so if you are using a prescription retin-A it's important to stop using it one week prior to getting the peel," says Dr. Bank. For those with less severe acne or occasional breakouts, there are other types of chemical peels your derm can give you to exfoliate your skin, dry up acne, and help create an instant glow (great for if you're trying to remove a few lingering pimples before a big event in a few days).

Acne scar treatment: Energy-based skin resurfacing with a laser, radiofrequency, or an ultrasound device can help treat boxcar scars, according to Nada Elbuluk, MD, an assistant professor at the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. “They all work by creating new collagen beneath the surface of the skin.” A series of treatments is likely needed based on the extent of scarring, she says. Chemical peels can also help but to a lesser extent. With either procedure, using a retinoid to increase cell turnover and further boost collagen can help improve results, Dr. Elbuluk adds.

There’s no quick fix for acne. Medicines don't work overnight. Many treatments take weeks of daily use before your skin improves. Some acne may take up to 6 months to clear up. Afterward, basic skin care -- bathing daily and washing your face and hands with mild soap -- may not be enough. You may need to keep using your medicine even when your skin clears. Follow your doctor’s directions. Don’t use too much or too little.
This powerful, medicated cleanser delivers a luxuriously whipped texture and three percent sulfur to address acne and blemishes, draw out impurities, and target congested pores. Honey and rice bran extracts calm redness, while natural oat extract addresses excess sebum. With continued use, this gentle, yet effective daily cleanser leaves skin clearer with visibly minimized pores.

As mentioned above, genetics are thought to play a major role in your susceptibility to acne. However, using the best acne products and taking good care of your skin can help you prevent worsening acne and scars later in life. Check out these other known acne causes and aggravators and see how to prevent acne by cutting some of these out of your life:
Rouleau also enlightened me about another culprit making my skin care routine less effective: using oil-based products at the beginning of my skin care routine. As Rouleau explained, oils have a large molecule size and, therefore, should go at the end of a skin care routine because it almost acts like a sealant. When you use a cleansing oil or balm first (as I used to do along with makeup wipes), you're basically creating a barrier that makes it more difficult for other skin care products to penetrate and do their job.

Some people swear by the disinfecting power of tea tree oil for acne treatment. It can be applied either full strength or slightly diluted with water directly onto pimples. Use a small amount on a clean cotton swab or cotton pad and dab on the affected areas immediately after cleansing. Because tea tree oil can be drying, you might choose to use both tea tree oil and coconut oil for acne as part of your clear skin regimen.


Drink plenty of water and follow a balanced diet. Although eating healthily and staying hydrated isn't going to magically make acne scars disappear, it will allow your body to perform at its best and help skin to heal itself. Water will flush toxins from the body and keep skin looking plump and firm, so you should aim to drink 5 to 8 glasses a day. Vitamins such as A, C and E will also help to feed the skin and keep it hydrated.
As the name suggests, ice pick scars are very deep acne scars that look like the skin has been punctured with… an ice pick. When the body produces too little collagen in response to an injury, depressed scars such as ice picks can form. “Ice pick scars represent the result of infected sebaceous gland openings on the skin. They are usually the most difficult to correct,” says New York City plastic surgeon Gerald Imber, MD.
Chemical peels: "A chemical peel is a treatment that uses the application of mild solutions for skin refinement and regeneration. Products containing glycolic acid promote cell turnover, which is the process where new skin cells form and help even out your skin tone," says Dr. Bowe. You can try an at-home peel like Peter Thomas Roth 40% Triple Acid Peel, which uses both glycolic and salicylic acids to help fade spots by exfoliating dead skin cells and smoothing out skin texture. "Or, your dermatologist can prescribe you a stronger peel based on your skin type and treatment goals," says Dr. Bowe.
Use retinoid skin products. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives which are used in a wide array of skin care products treating fine lines and wrinkles, skin discoloration, and acne. Retinoids boost collagen production and speed up cell turnover, making them a great choice for targeting acne scars. These creams can be a little on the pricey side, but they are highly recommended by dermatologists for their fast, effective results.
Both Avram and Tzu recommend looking for products with mark-fading hydroquinone. Ambi Fade Cream includes 2 percent hydroquinone, the highest concentration allowed without a prescription. “It also contains soy, which is well known for treating pigmentation issues, and vitamin E which helps with scarring,” says Tzu. While the FDA considers hydroquinone safe, it is banned in Europe and can potentially cause irritation or further discoloration, so remember to patch-test and check with a dermatologist whether it’s right for you.
A new, big trend in acne treatments over the past year has been stick-on dots. Some brands, like Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers, aren't medicated; instead, the clear, absorbent, sterile patches (which feel more like gel than a Band-Aid) dry out the zit like a sponge. Bonus: They'll keep you from picking at it! Despite the fact that they contain no actual medicine, the Nexcare covers have a perfect five-star rating on drugstore.com and a cult following. Meanwhile, many brands do medicate their acne dots, like Peter Thomas Roth's new Acne-Clear Invisible Dots. These invisible stick-on patches contain salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid to disinfect and clear clogged pores.
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).
Some people swear by the disinfecting power of tea tree oil for acne treatment. It can be applied either full strength or slightly diluted with water directly onto pimples. Use a small amount on a clean cotton swab or cotton pad and dab on the affected areas immediately after cleansing. Because tea tree oil can be drying, you might choose to use both tea tree oil and coconut oil for acne as part of your clear skin regimen.
Oral antibiotics: Doctors may start 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.
×