Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Shannon, MD, PhD on May 12, 2021
It’s an age old question and one that, unfortunately, rarely has a simple answer. Getting rid of your acne depends on a number of different factors, such as family history of acne, type of acne, your skin type, the time of year, and so much more. There are many ways to address acne depending on a person’s unique characteristics.
It means you have no shortage of options to try, but it also means that there’s usually not going to be a single catch all solution. If you have acne and want it gone, here’s what you need to know:
First Things First: What Not to Do
As tempting as it may be, it is crucial that you do not manipulate, irritate, or otherwise mess with the skin around your acne breakouts. No picking, popping, scratching, pressing, or anything else. Skin that is agitated or irritated is primed to develop acne in the future, so do yourself a favor and leave yours alone as best as possible. Picking or trying to pop acne can cause contents to go deeper into the skin and potentially lead to a more severe skin infection and acne scars.
So what can you do about pimples then? Well, you’ve got a few options:
- Topical Treatments
Treat acne with a regimen that includes products that unclog pores (e.g. adapalene 0.1% gel and salicylic acid) and are antibacterial (e.g. benzoyl peroxide). Aim to treat the entire region of your skin that is prone to acne, even if a specific area does not have acne in the moment.
Antibacterial products like Benzoyl peroxide works by eliminating bacteria on the surface of the skin. Products like salicylic acid and adapalene help to exfoliate the top layer of skin cells to unclog pores. Together, these classes of topical treatments help to reduce acne breakouts. If these over the counter products do not work, it may be time to seek guidance from a medical provider.
- Lifestyle Changes
While changes in the way you live may not get rid of pimples in the moment, lifestyle changes can make an impact on overall skin health. First is sleep: a full, restful 8 hours of sleep can prepare you for your day. In terms of acne, sleep deprivation can cause the body to produce excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels encourage skin inflammation, in turn aggravating the conditions that lead to acne development.
Next up is hydration. Maintain a regular intake of water throughout the day. Dehydration can cause the top layer of skin cells to build up and clog pores. Dehydration can also cause the skin oil glands to produce more oil; together these effects can clog pores, leading to acne.
When it comes to diet, the answers here come on a bit more of a case-by-case basis. While research has suggested that diets with low glycemic indices or those that are low in dairy, trans fats, carbs can decrease the incidence of acne, this may not be the case for everyone. If you find yourself breaking out after eating certain foods, cut them out of your diet and see what happens.
- Birth Control
Hormones play a role in acne development. This is particularly true among young people, as puberty and sexual development can cause the body’s hormone levels to fluctuate wildly and therefore produce unwanted acne flare-ups. Many women also find that the hormonal changes associated with menstruation can also cause acne. Because birth control keeps the body’s amount of sex hormones at a fairly steady level, it can prevent hormone-related acne from striking.
It can often seem impossible to find the right acne treatment for you. Our medical team here at Nurx can help you figure out what the best options might be — get in touch today to learn more about what your path forward might look like.