How Is Acne Diagnosed and Treated?
If you have symptoms of acne, your esthetician or doctor will be able to confirm a diagnosis by examining your skin.
You can use a number of self-care activities at home to prevent pimples and to clear up your acne. Home remedies for acne may include:
- cleaning the skin daily with a mild soap to remove excess oil and dirt
- regularly shampooing your hair and keeping it out of your face
- not squeezing or picking pimples, as this spreads the bacteria and excess oil
- avoiding hats or tight headbands
- avoiding touching your face
- using makeup that is water-based or labeled as “noncomedogenic” (not pore-clogging)
If self-care activities do not help with your acne, there are a number of over-the- counter acne medications that may be helpful. Most of these medications contain ingredients that can help kill bacteria or dry the skin. These active ingredients include:
- benzoyl peroxide: present in many acne creams and gels, used for drying out existing pimples and preventing new ones
- sulfur: a natural ingredient with a distinctive smell that is found in lotions, cleansers, and masks
- resorcinol: a less common ingredient that is used to remove dead skin cells
- salicylic acid: often contained in soaps and acne washes
Sometimes, you may continue to experience symptoms. If this happens, you may want to seek medical advice. Your doctor can prescribe medications that may help reduce your symptoms and prevent scarring. Your doctor may give you oral or topical antibiotics. These kill the bacteria that cause pimples. Typically, antibiotics are only used for a short amount of time so that your body doesn’t build up a resistance. Antibiotic resistance can make you prone to infections. Topical creams like retinoic acid or prescription strength benzoyl peroxide are often stronger formulas of over-the-counter treatments. These work to dry out the skin and reduce oil production. Women with hormonal acne may be treated with birth control pills or spironolactone. These medications seek to regulate the hormone-causing acne. Isotretinoin (Accutane) is a vitamin A-based medication that is used to treat certain cases of severe nodular acne. It has serious side effects, and is only used when all other treatments have failed.
Your esthetician or doctor may recommend additional procedures to treat severe acne and prevent scarring. Many of these work by removing damaged skin.
- photodynamic therapy: also known as laser treatment, uses light pulses to remove the top layer of skin
- dermabrasion: removes the top layer of skin with a rotating brush
- chemical peel: an aesthetician applies a chemical to your face which essentially burns the top layer of skin. That skin later peels off to reveal less damaged skin underneath
Your doctor may suggest using cortisone injections if your acne consists of large cysts. Cortisone is a steroid naturally produced by the body. It can reduce inflammation and speed healing.
What Is the Outlook for Someone With Acne?
Treatment for acne is often successful. Most people can expect their acne to clear up within six to eight weeks. However, flare-ups of the condition are common and may require additional treatment. Scarring that occurs as a result of acne can cause emotional distress. Prompt treatment can help prevent scarring.
How Can Acne Be Prevented?
It’s difficult to prevent acne. However, you can take some steps at home to help prevent acne following treatment. These include:
- washing your face twice a day with an oil-free cleanser
- using an over-the-counter acne cream to remove excess oil
- avoiding makeup that contains oil
- cleaning the skin thoroughly before bed, including removing makeup
- showering after exercising
- avoiding tight-fitting clothing