How to Get Rid of Acne: 3 Tried-and-True Treatments
Not all acne treatments are created equal. Find out which tried-and-true treatments are best for your specific type of acne to get rid of blemishes fast.
After trying a handful of different acne treatment products, it can start to feel like you’re just throwing money down the drain. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could skip the trial-and-error and find a solution that works for your skin?
Unfortunately, even the most effective acne treatments aren’t guaranteed to work on everyone. We all have different skin types and lifestyles which can influence how our skin responds to different treatments. That said, there are some tried-and-true acne treatments that stand a higher chance of working than others.
Here are three things you ought to know about getting rid of acne:
- Understanding the different types of acne is the first step to finding a treatment that works.
- Salicylic Acid is a natural exfoliant that is tough on acne, yet gentle on the skin.
- Give any acne treatment at least a few weeks to start working before you call it quits.
Blackheads and Whiteheads
Most acne sufferers are familiar with blackheads and whiteheads. Known scientifically as comedones, these small, non-inflamed blemishes can form quickly and tend to go away within a few days or weeks.
Despite being considered a mild form of acne, blackheads and whiteheads can be extremely annoying. Many people feel self-conscious of their pore size, and blackheads can give the illusion of larger pores.
Best Treatment Option for Blackheads and Whiteheads: Salicylic Acid
Salicylic Acid-based skin care products are highly effective at treating mild to moderate acne, especially your run-of-the-mill blackheads and whiteheads. This is due to Salicylic Acid’s natural exfoliating abilities.
Salicylic Acid works by penetrating deep into the pores of the skin and exfoliating the buildup of dead skin cells. It’s also shown to be much gentler on sensitive skin compared to Benzoyl Peroxide and Glycolic Acid.
In a 2008 study published in Dermatologic Surgery, researchers compared the differences in a Glycolic Acid peel and a Salicylic Acid peel on acne patients. Although both were effective at treating comedones, the Salicylic Acid group had far fewer side effects (see claim: “The salicylic acid peel had sustained effectiveness and fewer side effects.”)
Similarly, a 1992 review published in Clinical Therapeutics found that Salicylic Acid was just as effective as Benzoyl Peroxide in reducing acne lesions while producing fewer side effects (see claim: “Comparative studies of salicylic acid have shown it to be superior to benzoyl peroxide in reducing the total number of acne lesions.”)
Pustules and Papules
If you don’t get a handle on your whiteheads and blackheads, they can develop into pustules and papules. Papules are red, inflamed bumps, while pustules are simply papules with a white head.
Pustules and papules can be mild, moderate or severe. They can also be sore to the touch due to the infection of the hair follicle.
Best Treatment Option for Pustules and Papules: Beta Hydroxy Acid
When dealing with pustules and papules, your first treatment option is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) such as Salicylic Acid. BHAs are oil-soluble, which allows them to penetrate deep into the pore and exfoliate dead skin cells.
Once Salicylic Acid has cleared the path, so to speak, your other skin care products can penetrate deeper into the skin and keep pores clear to prevent future breakouts. If this treatment option doesn’t work, you might consider seeing a doctor to rule out the possibility of a serious skin infection.Take the skin care quiz
Nodules and Cysts
Nodules and cysts are by far the worst types of acne. Fortunately, they’re also among the rarest.
Nodules and cysts are large, painful blemishes located deep into the layers of your skin. They don’t always go away on their own and can take weeks or months to disappear completely.
Best Treatment Option for Nodules and Cysts: Light Therapy, Cortisone Shots
Although Salicylic Acid can help prevent future cysts from taking shape, it’s ineffective on existing cysts and nodules. If you want a tried-and-true acne treatment for your cysts, head to your dermatologist for a cortisone shot or light-based therapy treatments.
According to a 2009 study published in The British Journal of Dermatology, laser and other light therapies in the blue and blue-red color spectrum produced quicker and more effective results than Benzoyl Peroxide in acne patients (see claim: “Red-blue light was more effective than topical 5% benzoyl peroxide cream in the short term.”)
Cortisone shots are also an option for those suffering from painful acne cysts. Cortisone is a medical steroid used to treat inflammation quickly.
We’ve been using cortisone gels and creams to treat acne for years because they’ve proved so effective. In one older study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion, cortisone cream was especially effective at treating acne when combined with a Benzoyl Peroxide cream (see claim: “The results showed that the combination cream preparation produced a greater reduction in acne scores than did the base or benzoyl peroxide alone.”)
While a shot may not sound fun, it can deliver the anti-inflammatory abilities of hydrocortisone straight to the source to fight acne fast.
Remember to give any new acne treatment system a few weeks to start working. If you don’t notice any difference in your skin after a month, it’s time to try something else.
While these treatments are tried and true for a lot of acne sufferers, they may not work for everyone. If you can’t find an over-the-counter acne system that works for your skin, see a dermatologist.