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People should avoid picking or touching spots, but wash the skin gently twice a day.
Tips include:
* gentle daily washing no more than twice a day and after sweating
* using mild soaps or cleansers and warm water, not hot water
* not using harsh or exfoliating scrubs
* avoiding scrubbing, picking, or scraping pimples, as doing so can make them worse and can cause inflammation
* people should avoid makeup, or use water-based cosmetics that are marked as non-comedogenic sparingly
* where possible, avoiding environments with high humidity that cause excessive sweating
Over-washing is not good for acne.
Too much washing and scrubbing can remove oil from the skin and irritate it more. The skin can respond by producing more oil and so worsening the acne.
Acne is treated according to severity. Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter products as well as with medicines offered by doctors.
There is no quick-fix treatment for acne. All treatments take weeks to show effect.
Over-the-counter treatment
Mild acne treatments available without prescription include antibacterial skin cleansers. There is no evidence that acne is caused by poor hygiene, however.
Benzoyl peroxide is a topical drug available over-the-counter that may help. Other non-prescription drugs are available but with less evidence for good effect.
While using medications to treat acne, people should avoid direct sunlight and tanning beds, as the skin may be more sensitive to UV light at this time.
Various products for treating acne are available for purchase online.
Treatment for moderate and severe acne
Doctors can help people whose acne involves more severe pimples that may lead to scarring.
Moderate acne may be treated with oral antibiotics. Examples are:
* tetracycline
* minocycline
* erythromycin
* doxycycline
Antibiotics for acne typically need to be continued for 3 months for full results. Topical antibiotics as well as the oral antibiotics may be prescribed as well.
Women with moderate acne who do not respond to oral antibiotics may be prescribedTrusted Source anti-androgen hormone therapy or birth control medication.
Severe acne may require prescription treatment, for example, the drug isotretinoin.
This is an oral treatment that needs to be taken for 16 to 20 weeks. It is very effective against severe acne, but it has side effects, and its use has to be monitored.
It is crucial not to use isotretinoin if you are planning on becoming pregnant or if you are or could be pregnant, as there is a risk to the unborn child.
Women must have a pregnancy test before starting the medication and use reliable contraceptives before and during its use.
Sexually active women of childbearing age must use two forms of contraception before, during, and after treatment with isotretinoin.
People with severe acne who need to use isotretinoin must be referred to a dermatologist who is registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitoring program for the drug.
Cystic acne and triamcinolone
The most severe form of acne is cystic acne, which may be treated with a corticosteroid injection called triamcinolone. This injection into the lesion aims to reduce scarring caused by the inflammation.
Other procedures
A dermatologist may recommend or use one or a combination of the following:
* lasers and light therapy
* chemical peels
* drainage and extraction to remove a cyst
An injection with medication can decrease the size of a large cyst if there is a need to do so quickly.
Hormonal therapy for adult women with acne
Treatment for acne in adult women is the same as for other people. Further options include hormone therapy.
These include the contraceptive pill as it can help to clear acne in women. Those approved by the FDA contain ethinyl estradiol.
An oral contraceptive can be used alone or with an anti-androgen medication.
Oral contraceptive pills should not be used by those with certain health conditions.
These include:
* a history of breast cancer
* previous heart attack or stroke
* a history of blood clots
* uncontrolled hypertension
* abnormal vaginal bleeding
As with isotretinoin, those using hormonal therapies will need regular monitoring to ensure the safety of the treatment.
When to see a doctor
A doctor who specializes in skin conditions called a dermatologist needs to be seen for severe acne.
People are advised to see a doctor and perhaps a specialist dermatologist if:
* they have a lot of acne
* there are severe lesions
* there is a risk of scarring
* acne could affect pigmentation
If the presence of acne affects a person’s daily functioning, they should also seek help.
Is it a good idea to use a chemical peel as a treatment for acne?
Chemical peels are effective in the treatment of acne but are best when used alongside other treatments as well.
Multiple treatment modalities are typically best and most effective in the treatment of acne, as rarely is there a single treatment that will completely rid an individual of acne.
Medium to deep peels are especially helpful with scarring that is caused by acne.