I’ve been dedicating my recent blog posts to acne. As one of the most common skin problems in the United States, acne is something that’s likely to affect almost all of us at some point in time.
For some, it’ll go away almost as soon as it appears. But for the majority, it will linger. And the longer it does, the more it can eat into your self-esteem.
Taking it seriously from the start and having a board-certified dermatologist diagnose your acne early on will go a long way to clearing it up before it becomes more severe. In most cases, an over-the-counter medication (and a little patience) is enough to make a difference.
But there’s a lot of misinformation about skincare, and acne, specifically, out there. So, my goal with these posts is, foremost, to reassure you that you’re not alone. I also want to try to carve out a clear path that will enable you to clear up you acne as quickly as possible. Feel free to jump in at any point or to go back start with the first post.
In this one, I’ll get into some things you can do when you’re acne treatment doesn’t appear to be working.
Be a little more patient with your acne treatment
I know it’s not really what you want to hear, but every acne treatment needs time to work. If it is working, you’ll start to notice some improvement after four to six weeks. Even then, it can take two to three months, or longer, to see clearing.
If you’ve been using your current treatment for at least six weeks and haven’t noticed any improvement, see a dermatologist. But if you’re only a couple of weeks in, sit tight and try to stay the course, because changing products frequently can irritate your skin and even cause breakouts.
Consider another cause
Acne can have more than one cause. Bacteria, clogged pores, oil, and inflammation can all be culprits. If you haven’t seen any improvement after six weeks on a treatment, add a second acne product, one that attacks a different cause of acne. In other words, you want the two medications to be complementary, not redundant.
To help you find another product, here’s what the different active ingredients do:
- Benzoyl peroxide: decreases p.acnes
- Retinoids (adapalene gel): unclogs pores and reduces oiliness
- Salicylic acid: eases inflammation and unclogs pores
You can buy acne treatments that contain any one of these ingredients without a prescription, though you may want to consult a dermatologist first because trying too many products over a short period can worsen your acne.
Resist the urge to touch your face
Very often, it’s the unconscious things we do that can further aggravate our acne or impede its dissipation. Like touching our faces. One recent study found that we touch our faces on average 2,000 to 3,000 times a day. So, avoiding it entirely is unrealistic. But you can curb that amount by simply being more present throughout the day.
Also, avoid popping a pimple. I know it seems like the fastest way to clear it, but every time you touch, pick, or pop, you can worsen the acne.
And be sure you’re spreading your acne medication on all of your acne-prone skin, not just your blemishes. By blotting the medication, you’re not preventing new breakouts.
Dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt accumulate quickly on pillowcases, hats, and just about anything else that comes into contact with your face regularly. Changing your sheets every week and your pillowcase at least a couple of times a week can make a big difference.