Try A Prescription Retinoid
Retinoids are a key player in any skincare regimen, but especially one for acne. Retinol creams can regulate exfoliation, decongest the pores and control oil which will all impact acne positively, says Dr. Hartman.”Retinoid products are a great option to use in adults because they also have collagen-stimulating effects to also improve the appearance of aging skin,” adds Dr. Zeichner.
Differin Gel Acne Treatment
Because retinoids can often cause dryness or irritation at the early stages of use, both Dr. Hartman and Dr. Zeichner recommend the prescription medicine Altreno. It contains prescription strength tretinoin in a hydrating lotion vehicle that is well tolerated by most patients, says Dr. Hartman.
However, if you don’t want to use a prescription-strength retinoid, Dr. Garshick and Dr. Zeichner also recommend Differin Gel, which is a prescription-strength retinoid available over-the-counter. It contains 0.1% adapalene and works like a pipe cleaner to keep the pores clear, says Dr. Zeichner.
Maintain A Healthy Diet And Fitness Routine
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Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress are things that are often overlooked in regards to skincare, Henry says. “Exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them healthy,” she explains, because it increases blood flow.
Zeichner says that a diet full of low-glycemic-index foods can help prevent acne, as well as foods low in starch and sugar. He also recommends probiotics and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help calm inflammation.
Henry says that an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that milk can make acne worse , but that eating a serving of fish a week may help prevent pimples. .
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What If Benzoyl Peroxide Irritates My Skin
Does it though? That is like someone telling their personal trainer squats irritate my body. Sure, squats can hurt your body if you do them incorrectly or you do too many too fast. But they probably wouldnt hurt if you had a personal trainer who made sure your muscles were properly stretched out and you were doing them with proper form and the number of squats that are appropriate for your fitness level. Well, your skin is just like a muscle and how well your skin tolerates a product or an ingredient depends less on the product itself than it does on the condition of your skin, how slowly you integrate it, and whether or not your skin is healthy enough to tolerate it. And your skins health is largely dependent on the other skincare products you are using and whether or not they are nourishing, soothing, and hydrating your skin so that your skin can better tolerate active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide.
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Research Other Prescription Options
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Zeichner says that the best prescription options for hormonal acne are birth control pills and Spironolactone . Birth control pills help regulate your hormones and decrease testosterone levels, which can mean fewer hormone-induced breakouts. Zeichner notes that there are four birth control pills currently approved for acne: Yaz, Beyaz, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and EstroStop.
Another option is the aforementioned Spironolactone. Though not specifically designed to treat acne, it is often used for exactly that purpose because it prevents testosterone from stimulating the oil glands. “Less oil means less shine, fewer clogged pores, and less food to feed acne-causing bacteria,” Zeichner explains.
Side Effects Of Benzoyl Peroxide
Users might find that benzoyl peroxide can be drying and/or irritating, leaving patches of extreme dryness and redness. For most people, it’s recommended to only use benzoyl peroxide in one form, up to twice a day. So, if you use a benzoyl peroxide cleanser in the morning, you shouldn’t also use a BP spot treatment. Users have reported that benzoyl peroxide may also decrease the efficacy of your vitamin C serum when used in the same routineso if you use a vitamin C product in the morning, use your benzoyl peroxide product at night.
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Benzoyl Peroxide Vs Salicylic Acid For Acne Treatment
The skin care market is flooded with products to clear acne, all teeming with long lists of ingredients. Two specific ingredients, however, stand above the rest: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Both of these can work wonders on your skin. Board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe takes the guesswork away by explaining the perks of each key ingredient, what adverse side effects they may cause, and which products she most recommends containing each one.
Is Benzoyl Peroxide Safe
Benzoyl Peroxide, an ingredient used in many acne products, generates free radicals and skin damage. It promotes skin damage in a manner similar to unprotected sun exposure. The redness caused by the application of Benzoyl Peroxide to the skin is a visible demonstration of “oxidative stress” or free radicals causing skin damage to the components and chemistry of the skin. Repeated unprotected sun exposure causes skin damage and premature skin aging, which promotes the potential of skin cancer. Repeated application of benzoyl peroxide has been found to have the same result. The extent of skin damage from Benzoyl Peroxide is determined by the concentration of the Benzoyl Peroxide, the frequency of application, and the duration of its use.
Benzoyl Peroxide is used in acne products because it effectively kills P. acnes, the bacteria which causes acne. On the other hand, benzoyl peroxide generates free radicals that interfere with and slow the skin’s healing process. The red and brown marks that are a part of the acne healing process may last weeks longer when Benzoyl Peroxide is a regular part of the daily acne products regimen.
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How Should Benzoyl Peroxide Be Used
In terms adding benzoyl peroxide into an effective acne skincare routine, it comes in the form of OTC gels, spot treatments or rinse-off cleansers. Dr. Rodney prefers cleansers because they tend to be less drying since they stay on your skin for a smaller amount of time and the motion of rinsing them off helps remove debris. Whats really important is that you wet your skin first with warm water, massage in the benzoyl peroxide cleanser for 20 seconds and then rinse it off, she says. When you leave it on for the 20 seconds, thats really giving it time to take effect.
The other thing to keep in mind when selecting a benzoyl peroxide product is that a higher concentration of the ingredient is not necessarily better. In fact, research shows that 2.5%, 5% and 10% formulations are all similarly effective, but the higher percentages are more likely to cause dry or irritated skin. Both Dr. Rodney and Dr. Jaber agree its best to start with a lower formulation and slowly work your way up if it doesnt seem to help.
Benzoyl Peroxide For Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is considered the most serious form of acne, which also makes it the most difficult to treat.
Its characterized by hard bumps below the surface of your skin. While these pimples may have pus deep inside them, its difficult to identify any prominent heads.
P. acnes bacteria is one contributor to cystic acne, which benzoyl peroxide may help treat in combination with prescription medications.
If you have this type of acne, consult a dermatologist for your best treatment options.
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How Is Acne Treated
Over-the-counter products work to help clear up acne for some teens. It may take time to find one that works best for you some may not help and others may irritate skin. OTC acne products come in different strengths. The most popular and effective OTC acne-fighting ingredient is benzoyl peroxide. Another ingredient, salicylic acid, can help dry up pimples.
If OTC products don’t work for you, get a doctor’s advice. Doctors can prescribe special gels or creams, pills, or a combination of both. It may feel a bit awkward to talk about your acne with someone, but your doctor is trained to help get your skin looking its best.
It’s tempting, but popping or squeezing a usually won’t get rid of the problem. Squeezing can actually push infected material and pus deeper into the skin, which can lead to more swelling and redness and even scarring, which can be permanent.
If you’re taking a prescription acne medicine, finish your entire prescription even if your skin clears up, unless your doctor says its OK to stop. If you stop too early, there’s a chance your skin could break out all over again.
Eating nutritious foods can help keep you healthy and your skin will benefit from getting enough vitamins and minerals. But you don’t need obsess about what you eat or how often you wash your face to control acne. If no OTC product works for you, talk to your doctor or a about how to manage acne.
Over The Counter Treatment
Over the counter, look for products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, shares Dr. Zeichner. Benzoyl peroxide reduces levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, which promote inflammation. It can also help remove blockages on the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that removes excess oil and exfoliates dead cells from the surface of the skin.
Some of his favorite products include Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Rapid Clear Daily Facial Mask, which he says can help treat pimples that you already have, as well as ones that have not yet surfaced, plus Clean & Clear Bubble Cleanser with Salicylic Acid. If those approaches dont seem to be helping much, its a good idea to visit a dermatologist for more powerful treatmentslike a topical retinoid, antibiotics, hormone-blocking drugs, or topical acne prescriptionsthat can both treat acne and prevent permanent scarring.
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What Causes Cystic Acne
According to Sheila Farhang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Tucson, cystic acne is often caused by food triggers, stress, and hormones. It’s unlikely that diet is the sole cause of acne as severe as cystic acne, but according to Dr. Zeichner, certain foods “have been associated with the worsening of acne.” Those foods include skim milk, whey protein, vitamin B12 supplements, and foods that are high in sugar.
Lifestyle changes, like switching up your diet and reducing stress, can help clear skin. “The same hormones that prepare our bodies to deal with stressful situations also push our oil glands into overdrive,” which can cause breakouts, says Dr. Zeichner.
In addition, androgen hormones like testosterone also stimulate oil glands. “Because hormone levels go up and down during one’s menstrual cycle, acne may flare around the time of the period,” he says.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe To Put On Your Skin
So heres the thing: Hydrogen peroxide wipes out all the bacteriaincluding the good kind. Just like in our gut microbiome, our skin also has colonies of bacteria that help with a number of processes . A strong antibacterial like hydrogen peroxide can destroy all those good, necessary bacteria without them, you may face an impaired skin barrier, as well as issues like redness and skin peeling. Of course, those with sensitive skin should probably steer clear, as those individuals already face a compromised skin barrier.
At stronger concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is especially irritating, even leading to burns or scarring for some it makes sensea cleaning solution thats strong enough to kill viruses might be a little too heavy-duty for the delicate skin of the face, which is why if you are going to use the antibacterial, always, always, use a diluted version .
But even with a diluted product, be mindful of the side effects: According to King, diluted hydrogen peroxide can still have rather damaging and drying effects it even has the potential to bleach the skin , so those with darker skin tones should be extra careful.
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What Is Hormonal Acne
Hormonal acne may be simply called acne in situations when it is not important to highlight the hormonal cause.
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million people every year.
It develops when the body makes too much sebum, an oil produced by the sebaceous glands near the hair follicles in the skin.
Hormones such as testosterone can increase the amount of sebum. As a result, acne may be more common in males during adolescence because of the spike in testosterone production during this stage of life. In adulthood, acne may be more common in females. Many hormonal changes take place during transitions such as:
See If A Vitamin Or Supplement Might Help
If you’re not comfortable trying a prescription medication, there are some vitamins and supplements that could potentially help treat hormonal acne. First up: Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that may help acne due to its anti-inflammatory effects. In studies, both topical and oral vitamin B3 supplements have been shown to improve acne, according to Dr. Garshick. It’s also possible that zinc can help hormonal acne. Zinc supplements have been shown to reduce breakouts, says Dr. Zeichner, though some studies show that treating acne topically with zinc might be the more effective route.
All that said, it’s important to always check with your doctor first before taking any new supplements, especially since taking too much of any supplement has the potential to be harmful. It is also best to only start one new supplement at a time to be able to identify what is helping or if any side effects occur, says Dr. Garshick.
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Is Rubbing Alcohol Good For Acne
Dont use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on wounds or to control oily skin or acne breakouts. Theyre not effective and they can damage your skin, making the problem worse. Just use soap and water to clean a wound, and for acne, use an over-the-counter product with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
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How To Use It
BP products come in several over-the-counter forms, as well as in different strengths.
Heres how to use benzoyl peroxide effectively while minimizing risk for side effects:
- Determine which concentration/strength you need, depending on the severity of your symptoms. For example, BPO products range from 2.5 percent to 10 percent. Lower concentrations up to 5 percent may be more appropriate for mild to moderate symptoms, while 10 percent strength is better for moderate to severe symptoms.
- When just beginning to use benzoyl peroxide cream and other leave-on products, stick to lower concentrations between 2.5 percent to 5 percent, which are often strong enough to provide benefits. These products are typically applied once or twice a day on the entire area of affected skin.
- Ideally, creams and gels should be applied about 15 minutes or so after washing the skin and allowing it to dry. Dont wash your face for at least one hour after applying benzoyl peroxide cream or gel.
- If youre using benzoyl peroxide wash, soap or cleaners, you may be able to tolerate higher percentages than when using cream. Like lotions, these products can be used once or twice daily.
- Body washes and soaps with BPO are also helpful for breakouts on the chest and back, not just the face.
- Avoid putting BPO too close to the eyes and nostrils. Also be careful about strong sunlight when using BPO, or use a sun cream with a high sun protection factor.
How long does it take for benzoyl peroxide to work?
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Recommended Benzoyl Peroxide Products
Salicylic acid comes in a variety of forms, including creams, lotions, washes, and gels. “My patients swear by Clean and Clean Continuous Control Acne Cleanser. It delivers the benzoyl peroxide deep into the pores where the ingredient is most needed, bypassing the sensitive parts of the skin that are prone to dryness and irritation. For spot treatment, there’s nothing better than Persa-Gel 10. As soon as you start to feel a pimple come up, dab a drop right on the lesion and don’t pick! As tempting as it is to try to squeeze or pick at the pimple, never touch it and your skin will thank you later. The gel will either prevent the pimple from coming up altogether, or the pimple that comes up will be half the size it would have been otherwise,” says Dr. Bowe.
Dont Wear Bandages Or Tight Clothing
Trying to hide your acne behind bandages or tight clothing can be tempting. However, this can actually aggravate acne by further trapping oils and bacteria into your skin.
Loose, cotton clothing is your best bet for acne. Its also helpful to shower immediately after sports and other forms of exercise so you can keep your pores as clean as possible.
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How Do I Know I Have Hormonal Acne
But how do you know if your red spots are caused by hormones or something else altogether? And why is that important? Pegging down the root cause of your acne can help inform an effective treatment plan. For example, if a product is causing breakouts, the answer could be as simple as discontinuing usage. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing hormonal acne, treatment may be a little bit more complex.
Green says hormonal acne typically presents as cysts along the jawline and on the chin in adults and in the T-zone during puberty, but it can also present as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and pustules, says Umarand that’s exactly why it’s important to consult a board-certified dermatologist who can help you correctly identify your condition.
In the meantime, you can also look for patterns. “It is common for hormonal acne to reappear in the same areas in a cyclic fashion,” she explains. “Many adult patients struggling with hormonal acne indicate that their breakouts are more pronounced for a certain period each month or when they have endured significantly more stress.”