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  • Writer's pictureDr. Yuli


Updated: Sep 9, 2020

Acne occurs when pores get clogged up with dead skin, oil, and bacteria. The skin can get red and inflamed causing whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Acne can occur at any age but is most common among teenagers.

The following are suggestions for mild acne:

  • Gently wash your face twice a day with warm water and a facial skin cleanser. Do not scrub your face, as this may worsen acne and damage your skin.

  • For mild acne, benzoyl peroxide 5% gel every morning is an option. If tolerated, benzoyl peroxide may be increased to twice a day. It is available over the counter. If you develop any side effects from benzoyl peroxide or any other medications, contact your health care professional.

  • Apply a "non-comedogenic" moisturizer to prevent dryness and peeling, which may occur as a side effect from acne medication.

  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to minimize sun damage.

  • Do not pick or squeeze pimples.

  • Avoid oil-based make-up products.

For moderate to severe acne, the following prescription medications may be considered:

  • Retinoids- These creams, gels, or lotions are used in the evening and help keep pores unclogged. Examples include Retin-A, Differin, and Tazorac.

  • Salicylic acid and glycolic acid - Helps remove dead layers of skin and comes as a facial wash.

  • Topical antibiotics - Kills the bacteria inside of pimples. Examples include clindamycin, erythromycin, and dapsone. These are used in combination with benzoyl peroxide.

Medications taken as a pill include:

  • Antibiotics - stronger than the antibiotic creams, but may cause troublesome side effects.

  • Birth control pills - the FDA has approved four oral contraceptives in the treatment of acne. Side effects may include weight gain and nausea.

  • Isotretinoin pills - This is a powerful retinoid pill for severe acne. It can cause serious side effects and birth defects. It must be monitored closely by your doctor.

Can diet or stress affect my acne?

Limited data suggest a link between some foods, like milk, bagels, bread, chocolate and chips, and an increase in symptoms of acne in some people. More studies are needed to truly understand the relationship between food and acne.

Stress may cause acne symptoms to worsen.

If you have questions regarding your medical problem, remember to consult your healthcare provider.

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