First of all, before we start talking about getting rid of acne we need to make two things clear: I’m not a doctor and acne is a fact of life, for the rest of your life. I’m not sure you can ever really get rid of acne. Even as an adult, I experience very mild acne breakouts. Also, if you’ve come to this page expecting to find medical advice about how to get rid of acne, you’re in the wrong place. Like I said, I’m not a doctor. Before following any of the tips found here on how to treat and control acne, consult a dermatologist.
With all of that being said, let me assure you that I’ve done my research. The causes of acne are numerous; so are the various types of acne and acne-related issues. This article is meant to be an overview or a broad-spectrum answer to the question, “How do I get rid of acne?” If you’re interested in what I’ve found, read on. If there’s a particular kind of acne problem you’re looking to get rid of, check for it in the list of specific acne problems on this page.
More Acne Articles
Acne is an infection of the sebaceous glands, which are glands connected to hair follicles whose primary purpose is to release sebum, a lipid (oil) meant to waterproof our skin and hair as well as inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the skin. When the follicles and pores where these glands are found become plugged by contaminants, oil, or dead skin cells, sebum builds up and fails to be released properly, resulting in inflammation and sometimes bacterial infection. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common bacteria that causes acne infections. Acne becomes a more serious problem only when cysts and nodules are produced by repeated infection, resulting in acne scars. Acne can occur anywhere on the body, really, but is most common on the face, back, and chest.
Getting Rid of Acne
Stop using oil-based makeup, hair products, and similar cosmetic products if you want to get rid of acne. Oil buildup on the skin is one of the primary causes of acne, so you will want to avoid getting any kind of oil on your skin. This includes mechanical oils and greases, as well as cooking oils. Many teenagers fail to follow this advice, eating fast foods which contain large amounts of oils, while continuing to apply oil-based cosmetic products. Diet and lifestyles may need to be changed in order to get rid of acne.
Avoid harsh soaps and facial scrubs if you want to get rid of acne faster. Many acne cleansing products claim to wipe away dirt and oils, while “gently” exfoliating your skin. So long as you avoid contact with oils that aren’t produced by your body, you shouldn’t need these products. They can irritate your skin, damage your sebaceous glands, and cause even worse acne breakouts in the long run. The fact of the matter is that your sebaceous glands are producing oils because they’re trying to protect your skin from being dry, cracked, and overly clean. Facial scrubs are not a good way to get rid of acne.
Taking showers regularly and washing your face with gentle soaps will help get rid of acne. While it is helpful to avoid contact with contaminants and synthetic oils (or oils that are foreign to your body), it is not always possible. Washing acne-prone skin once in the morning and once in the evening while help reduce breakouts. Remember, however, to use gentle soaps, not harsh ones, when you wash yourself. There are a couple of all-natural soaps listed among the “Natural Acne Cures” that are recommended for gentle cleansing.
Don’t pinch, prod, or poke your blemishes to get rid of acne. Many people choose to pinch out their whiteheads, pimples, and zits with their fingers. There are a few problems with this method. First, your fingers are covered with unnatural oils. Second, your fingers are covered with plenty of bacteria. Thirdly, you will probably damage your sebaceous glands or create an impacted pimple, which will cause more fluid buildup and eventually an infected zit. Refer to the articles we’ve written on zits, whiteheads, and pimples for the appropriate ways to get rid of these types of acne issues.
Using a dermatologist-recommended acne lotion will help you get rid of acne. Don’t just grab a bottle of lotion that says it’s dermatologist-recommended; call or go see a dermatologist and ask them what lotion they would recommend. These lotions are different from soaps because they’re specifically designed to break down oils, kill the bacteria that cause infected acne blemishes, and promote the sloughing (shedding for lack of a better synonym) of dead skin cells (the other primary cause of acne). The better lotions recommended to get rid of acne contain either sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid.
Medical Acne Treatments
If home remedies for acne aren’t working for you, then it might be time to escalate your treatment plan. The following section discusses the use of topical retinoids, topical antimicrobials, azelaid acid, and oral antibiotics. For the sake of brevity, we won’t get into too much detail in this article. I’m just going to outline the basics of treatment plans that most dermatologists are using today, and I’ll discuss the mechanisms behind the most common medical treatments.
Topical retinoids are usually the first choice of medications to get rid of acne. Retinoids like tretinoin, Adapalene, and tazarotene are derived from Vitamin A. They are used to accelerate your skin’s natural ability to slough dead skin cells, decreasing the chance of occlusion (medical fancy-talk for clogging) of your pores. This is done at a cellular level by affecting the DNA of the cells on the surface of your skin, “tricking” them into shedding and regenerating themselves more quickly. On top of that, retinoids have properties that inhibit the inflammation associated with acne lesions. They’re available in both gel and ointment form. People with oily skin are usually given the gels because they tend to dry the skin.
Topical antimicrobials are usually the second choice of medications used to get rid of acne. Antimicrobials are exactly what you think they are: they kill microbes (i.e. bacteria, P. acnes). Benzoyl peroxide is a very common antimicrobial acne treatment. There are so many topical antimicrobial ointments and gels out there that it’s hard to keep track of them all. The mechanism of action is simple: kill the P. acnes bacteria that are causing the inflammation (a result of infection) to reduce the number of acne lesions. More examples of common antimicrobial ointments are clindamycin, dapsone, and erythromycin.
The third and least-prescribed choice for acne treatment is oral antibiotics. This form of treatment is generally reserved for very serious cases of nodular (cystic) acne, acne conglobata, and acne fulminans. Like topical antimicrobials, oral antibiotics work by targeting the P. acnes bacteria. Examples of these medications include azithromycin, doxycycline, and tetracycline. Except in serious cases of acne where topical antimicrobials are ineffective, oral antibiotics are losing favor among dermatologists because of increased instances of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Note: Many of the newer topical medications are a combination of both retinoids and antimicrobials, and it has been suggested by recent studies that formulas containing both benzoyl peroxide and adapalene are the most tolerated combinations on the market.
Natural Acne Cures
Tea tree oil, as you will find, is a commonly promoted natural treatment for acne on this site. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, tea tree oil acts as a natural antibiotic, or perhaps more like a natural disinfectant. Because it kills bacteria without harming the skin, it is considered one of the best natural treatments for mild cases of acne.
Low carb diets appear to be one of the best preventative treatments for acne. Researchers in Australia have shown tremendous results in reducing moderate to severe acne by administering a low carbohydrate, low glycemic index diet to patients. This isn’t news to many people, exactly. The fast food they tell you to avoid is usually loaded with super-processed carbohydrates. So try cutting out baked goods, cereals, sweets, and other starchy foods from your diet. It’s worth a shot, right? And you might lose some weight while you’re at it.
Black currant seed oil has been suggested as an acne-reducing herbal treatment. The average adult dosage per day is roughly 1500 mg, divided by at least three (3 doses of 500mg per day). Antioxidants and essential fatty acids are the accepted explanations for how black currant seed oil cures acne, but you may want to consult a trained herbalist before trying this remedy.
Earth Science Clarifying Facial Wash is loaded with a number of natural extracts meant to clean the skin gently and naturally to help prevent acne breakouts. It’s hypoallergenic, vegan, and animal friendly — meaning it hasn’t been tested on animals.
Natural Results Acne Body Wash is a naturally cleansing, gentle body wash. While you may be able to use just about any acne soap for body wash, this contains enough product to last you more than a week. This is a very good option if you’re looking for a natural acne remedy that helps to prevent back acne and chest acne as well as facial acne.