In this video, Dr. Bobby Buka explains how to treat acne breakouts. For most of us, acne is mild. If this is the case for you, try selecting an over-the-counter acne treatment product containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These acne treatments vary in strength and effectiveness, and can take 4-12 weeks to work. In the meantime, never pop or squeeze pimples. Popping pimples pushes the infected material back into the skin and can make the breakout worse or cause permanent acne scars.
If over-the-counter products aren't working or you have a more severe case of acne, visit your doctor for more acne treatment options. Dr. Buka explains how to treat acne with different medications. If you have non-inflammatory acne, your doctor may prescribe a topical retinoid to help de-plug comedones. Topical retinoids can cause dryness and sun sensitivity, so be sure to use sunscreen. If you cannot tolerate retinoids, other topical agents include salicylic acid, glycolic acid or azelaic acid.
For inflammatory acne, your doctor may prescribe topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide or a combination. For moderate to severe acne, oral medications may be prescribed. Women have the option of oral contraceptives, which can suppress hormones that lead to oily skin. In severe cases, isotretinoin may be prescribed. It is a powerful drug but can have serious side effects such as birth defects. All prescription acne medications come with the risk of side effects, so it is important to follow dosing instructions and talk to your doctor if you experience anything unusual.
Another method to treat active acne breakouts is blue light therapy. Laser resurfacing can help to reduce acne scars. Fractional laser therapy works at a deeper level and has a shorter healing time. Dermabrasion is another older therapy that resurfaces the skin and can take up to 3 weeks to heal.
See a dermatologist to learn more about how to treat acne and which options can work for you.