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Which Acne Treatment Is Best For Me You Need To Know

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It can be challenging to determine precisely which acne treatment could be the best for your skin because there are so many different approaches to treating outbreaks. Even if you’ve had some form of acne your entire life, adult acne might differ from teen acne and can be challenging to treat due to factors like hormones, changes in skin type and texture, and scarring.

Life is difficult enough without constantly worrying about our skin, so SELF consulted physicians to see which acne treatments work best for all kinds of breakouts. Continue reading to discover the root causes of acne as well as the top acne treatments and drugs that are well investing your money on.


Which Acne Treatment Is Best For Me You Need To Know

Which Acne Treatment Is Best For Me
Which Acne Treatment Is Best For Me

It’s important to note that speaking with a dermatologist is always your best option whether you’re wanting to merely reduce some bothersome blackheads or you’re suffering with something more serious like cystic or inflammatory acne.

They have access to many more treatment options than your neighborhood Target or Ulta and are trained to recognize different types of acne just by looking at it.

(We’re not disparaging over-the-counter topicals here; they’re still a really excellent option.

However, we assure you that your neighborhood dermatologist offers the best options.)

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What brings on acne?

To begin with, you cannot resist something which you do not comprehend.

So how does acne first become visible on your skin?

According to the Mayo Clinic, pimples develop when the oil and Worn out skin cells on your skin combine to form a clog that closes the pores.

Propionibacteria acnes, also known as Cutibacterium acnes, can occasionally become stuck in the pore where it grows. Dermatologist Sejal Shah, M.D., explains to SELF that papules, pustules, and cystic lesions form when the P. acnes bacteria that naturally reside on skin overgrow within this clogged follicle.

What cures acne effectively?

The good news is that there are many acne treatment choices as well as several substances and solutions that genuinely work; as the AAD notes, today, there is a therapy for almost every type of acne.

Finding out what kind of acne you have and making sure that the therapies you employ won’t make things worse are the tough parts, and here is where consulting a dermatologist is always a smart option.

Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory qualities as well, which can assist with irritated cystic eruptions that can happen when obstructions deep in hair follicles burst beneath the skin.

Salicylic acid can be used as a face wash, which is entirely acceptable, but you might find that using it as a toner, moisturizer, or leave-on spot treatment gives it more time to function.

And remember that salicylic acid can dry out the skin if applied excessively, so it might be a good idea to stick to using just one product that contains the chemical each day.

 Peroxide of Benzoyl

The antibacterial component benzoyl peroxide is particularly powerful at killing the C. acne bacteria is the reason behind outbreaks. But benzoyl has drawbacks as well. If you’re not careful, the leave-on creams and washing procedures can bleach garments and dry out sensitive skin.

Stronger concentrations are rougher on your skin without being any more effective against bacteria, according to board-certified dermatologist Eric Meinhardt, M.D., who previously told SELF that it’s better to stick with formulas that have no more than 2% benzoyl peroxide mentioned on the active-ingredients chart.

 Acid Lactic

Lactic acid is an AHA, and like glycolic acid, it exfoliates the skin by acting as a chemical exfoliator.

However, it’s typically kinder than glycolic acid, making it an excellent choice for those with more delicate skin who want to use an exfoliating acid.

Additionally, lactic acid is a humectant, which means it attracts water to itself and has moisturizing properties.

Exfoliants containing lactic acid would therefore be effective for persons with dry or sensitive skin without being too irritating. These items can be used to perform a chemical peel at home. (You might also try a moisturizer for acne-prone skin that has been approved by a doctor!)


Although you may be familiar with the advantages of retinoid lotions for anti-aging, these vitamin types are also effective at treating acne. Rita Linkner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, tells SELF that “[Retinoids] cause skin cells to turn over at a faster rate, decrease oil production, and help skin exfoliate.”

Another advantage is that retinoids are anti-inflammatory, and acne is an inflammation.

Shah frequently advises her acne-prone patients to use over-the-counter retinol or prescription retinoids.

She finds that, in comparison to other treatments, they are advantageous for treating acne as well as avoiding the development of new pimples since they help stop the follicle from becoming clogged at its initial stage.

Additionally, they can assist with some post-acne issues like hyperpigmentation.

But bear in mind that retinoids can sometimes be irritating, and even an over-the-counter alternative might be too strong if you have sensitive skin (or a skin disease like psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea).

In order to determine how your skin will respond, it is crucial to always start with a retinol for sensitive skin that has a low concentration of retinol (even as low as.01%).

You might be able to handle over-the-counter retinols with low concentrations or

low-concentration prescription retinoids more easily, which your dermatologist can also suggest.

Additionally, keep in mind that retinol is not thought to be safe for women who are pregnant or nursing.


The only and mildest retinoid available over-the-counter is not retinol.

In fact, some experts advise choosing products containing retinal

(also known as retinaldehyde) rather than conventional retinol for people with sensitive skin.


This substance is a naturally occurring retinoid that the body transforms to retinoic acid, just as retinol.

Additionally, as previously stated by SELF, it has been demonstrated in a few trials to be equally beneficial to retinol and other retinoids while having less adverse effects.


Adapalene is a synthetic retinoid that was previously exclusively accessible with a prescription and is frequently referred to by the brand name Differin.

However, it recently became over-the-counter, making it a fantastic, potent acne treatment that you can get without a prescription. It was also created to be kinder than other prescription acne medicines because it is synthetic.

Adapalene is a great option for people who have outgrown over-the-counter retinol but aren’t quite ready for a prescription retinoid’s full potency.


Sulfur smells like rotten eggs, so beware.

However, it works well to dry up whiteheads and pimples that are loaded with pus (you have to take the good with the bad). By suckling up the oil, it functions.

To maximize its effectiveness, sulfur is frequently combined with other active substances, while scents help to cover up its overpowering odor. It frequently appears in masks and spot treatments.


This substance, a plant-based extract that is frequently promoted as a retinol substitute, is not in fact a retinoid at all.

However, Bakuchiol did show promise in a few small studies, without the side effects we often associate with retinoids, in addressing issues like skin texture and fine wrinkles.

To help increase the acne-fighting and anti-aging effects without raising the risk of adverse effects, it may now appear in a product alone or in combination with a low dosage of retinol.

Dr. Adotama advises it to anyone looking for more natural treatments for acne as a single ingredient.

Bonus: According to new studies, acne on those with darker complexion can benefit significantly from it.

Gel Dapsone

Dapsone gel, such as the brand-name version Aczone, is one remedy that your dermatologist might recommend for acne. Blackheads, whiteheads, and more intensely painful pimples can all be treated with dapsone, an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory drug. Dapsone is frequently used with other acne medications. Additionally, much like many of those other therapies, this might make skin dry.

 Cortisone Injection

For urgent cases of acne, particularly large cystic acne bumps, cortisone provides a rapid cure.

For a shot of this corticosteroid, visit the dermatologist’s clinic,

and the pimple will significantly decrease and potentially even vanish within 24 to 48 hours.

The medication’s ability to reduce inflammation makes it ideal for cystic breakouts and effective in battling hormonal acne flare-ups.

A cortisone injection, however, can create a temporary skin depression that lasts for around eight weeks if performed improperly. According to Dr. Linkner, this unusual adverse effect might occur when the dosage of cortisone is too high.

This procedure is best reserved for those rare cases and should not be thought of as a long-term cure for your acne, as “you want to go to someone who knows what they’re doing.”

 Pills for birth control

Your acne may be caused by hormones if you find that you always break out right before your period.

“A sensitivity to the hormones called androgens manifests in the form of cystic acne,”

according to Dr. Linkner, when it comes to hormonal acne.

The hormone testosterone and other androgens increase sebum production in the skin.

Acne increases with sebum production. Combination hormonal birth control, which contains both the estrogen and the progestin hormones, aids in maintaining hormone balance and clear skin. Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and YAZ are all acne medications that have FDA approval.


Sometimes birth control by itself is insufficient to significantly reduce hormonal acne.

At that point, your doctor might suggest incorporating an androgen blocker like spironolactone.

By inhibiting the receptors that connect with testosterone, spiro (as it is often known) reduces the amount of androgen hormones in circulation.

According to Dr. Linkner, many women experience less acne when using these pills along with an oral contraceptive.

Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may use the medication to treat symptoms of androgen excess, such as excessive hair growth, hypertension, oily skin, and acne.


This potent prescription retinoid, which also goes by the brand name Tazorac, is synthetic.

You should always abide by your dermatologist’s recommendations for when and how to take retinoids because they can have unpleasant side effects like dryness and inflammation.

It’s interesting to note that it can also be used to treat plaque psoriasis, and it may be coupled with other topical drugs like corticosteroids to accomplish so.


Isotretinoin is a very potent retinoid and was once marketed under the name Accutane.

Although it has a mixed reputation, physicians use it as a last resort for individuals who have severe acne.

According to board-certified dermatologist Adam Friedman, M.D.,

“isotretinoin can really be a game changer if you have an acne patient who doesn’t respond to anything.”

Isotretinoin is an oral retinoid that has all the advantages of a topical retinol but is even more effective.

It is sometimes referred to as Accutane even though that specific brand has been discontinued.

It works particularly well for body acne, including back acne in adult men, and cystic acne in women.

Your sebaceous glands are essentially shut off by oral vitamin A.

You can cure someone of their acne if you suppress [them] for a long enough time, and around 50% of patients do,

according to Dr. Linkner. It can take six to nine months to complete an isotretinoin course.

In order to completely eradicate acne, people may need to repeat the course at a larger dosage.

However, there are good and bad things said about isotretinoin.

It causes the skin to become extremely dry and sensitive, so it’s crucial to keep moisturizers, lip balm, and other dry skin items close hand while you’re receiving treatment.

Also, avoid waxing your eyebrows at all costs (picture your skin ripping off).

Dermatologists concur that despite the stringent precautions, isotretinoin has unique effects.

Dr. Friedman claims that this is one of the few medications for which he can assure patients

that it will be effective while looking them in the Benzoic Acid

Azelaic acid is frequently recommended for individuals with sensitive skin or those

who are pregnant even though dermatologists are unsure of why it is so successful at reducing inflammation.

You can find over-the-counter choices with lower amounts of this active component, and your dermatologist may prescribe treatments with higher concentrations of azelaic acid.


Oral antibiotics may be recommended by a dermatologist to treat acne, however this is not usually the case.

Even while you might notice results right away, acne will come back as soon as you stop taking the antibiotics.

Although antibiotics can be a highly effective first step, especially with acne located on portions of the body

other than the face, Dr. Linkner cautions, “While you’re on them, [you can get] yeast infections, nausea, upset stomach.”

Because of its location, back acne can occasionally be challenging to treat, according to Dr. Adotama.

If body breakouts are a concern of yours and you don’t have someone to help you slather creams onto those hard to reach spots, antibiotics might be the right step on your acne treatment journey.

“Not everyone has someone that can apply topical medications to their back

and so some patients might need oral antibiotics a little sooner in order to control the acne on the back.”

Conclusion: Acne is painful regardless of age, but you don’t have to put up with it.

Consult a dermatologist to get the best acne medicine for you if over-the-counter remedies aren’t working for you.

How can I get rid of acne quickly?

You can’t simply wave a magic wand to have your acne go away, regrettably. You can’t rush acne treatments, as Prince Adotama, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, tells SELF.

“It takes, on average, two to three months—or sometimes even longer—to really start seeing the benefits of acne medications,” the author claims. So I usually advise my patients to stick with the regimen with patience.

The program we give you will be effective, but you must be persistent and patient.

It’s pointless to try a drug for a week and then claim it doesn’t work.






What to read next? I’ve got you!


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That’s how 40-year-old Carly Donovan, an overweight mother with prediabetes was feeling…

She did “everything right” and never lost an inch.

Until she stumbled on this strange “carb-pairing” trick and burned away an unheard of 22lbs pounds in just 13 days.

And because of this one simple shift in her eating, she shed pounds and inches from her body without starving herself and without a lick of exercise!

With the same “carb-pairing” trick Carly dropped a total of 37lbs in the FIRST month and she shocked her doctor by completely reversing ALL pre-diabetes symptoms!

If you’re a woman over the age of 25 who wants to reclaim her life inside the body she DESERVES, you should check it out for yourself.