Acne is a major cause of irritation and insecurity for some 40 to 50 million Americans, and a sudden flare-up can be a source of frustration for sufferers who thought their skin was under control.
The truth is that many people make basic mistakes when treating their acne. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when trying a new treatment:
1. Giving up on acne treatments
It can be a lot of work remembering to apply a new acne treatment as frequently as you need to, and many people will give up on acne treatments if they don't see an improvement right away.
Unfortunately, skin can respond slowly to treatment, and although break-outs pop up fast, even the best treatments can take up to 6-12 weeks to show a noticeable result. Some may even cause irritated skin or increased acne before they kick in.
Since you can't know right away if a treatment will work, it's important to power through the first month or two and then evaluate your results. If you're using a prescribed medication or acne clearing device, adhering strictly to your regimen is the best way to get the most out of treatment. Don't stop right when acne clears up, either. Sometimes you can taper off the treatment, but acne can return once it is stopped.
2. Choosing the wrong products and solutions for acne-prone skin
Acne may actually be worsened by alkaline bar soaps, alcohol-based products, and other harsh cleansers. Products containing a lot of oil like cosmetics, sunscreen and moisturizers are likely to clog pores and lead to breakouts.
People with high frequency acne should look for products that are made for acne prone skin or are labeled "noncomedogenic." Noncomedogenic products are made without the ingredients that typically cause clogged pores.
Affordable new in-home acne treatment technologies such as blue light therapy and high frequency facial systems offer acne sufferers an effective alternative to harsh topical treatments and oral medications while facial steamer units can help unclog the pores and prepare the skin to take maximum advantage of these acne clearing technologies.
3. Trying too many acne solutions at once
It's pretty normal for people to abandon acne treatments for new ones when they don't see immediate results. Unfortunately, this can irritate the skin and increase the severity of acne, as well as the chance of scarring.
Combining treatment with vigorous scrubbing and cleaning can also increase irritation and wear down the skin's protective barrier. Dirt isn't what causes acne, and often gentle, non-irritating cleansers will do much more to decrease inflammation.
4. Waiting too long to get treatment
Acne can take a serious toll on your confidence and self-image, and it can be painful and damaging as well. If over-the-counter medications aren't helping, going to a professional skin-care provider can give you access to stronger medication and a wider variety of options, like light and laser therapy, and chemical peels. A skin-care specialist can work with you to find the best treatment for your case of acne.
5. Popping or picking acne
It may seem like a tempting quick fix, especially if your acne is painful, but messing with acne flare-ups can cause infected material to go deeper into the skin, thereby increasing the chance of swelling and scarring.
More than 40% of teens have acne or acne scarring by their mid-teens, so catching bad habits early is important to having healthy skin later in life.
Avoiding these mistakes can be hard, but doing so is the best way to make the most out of your individual acne treatment.