Acne is caused by overactive oil glands that clog pores. You can get acne on your face, chest, back, shoulders and even buttocks. KidsHealth.org reports that 17 million Americans have acne. If keeping your skin clean doesn’t clear up the blemishes, you should start a regimen with special soap and topical medication. It will take about two weeks before you see significant results. But if you keep up your routine, even between breakouts, new pimples should be eliminated in just two or three days.
Wash your face three times a day with a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil. Find a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soap.
Keep your skin moisturized. The regimen you are about to begin can cause drying, especially to the spot where your lesions appear. Using a cleanser with moisturizer built in, or an oil-free moisturizer, will seal moisture into your skin and prevent drying and flaking. Products that contain ingredients like urea, glycerin and alpha hydroxy acids absorb water from the air and keep the skin moisturized.
Use a spot-on, topical treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide. According to the Mayo Clinic, benzoyl peroxide is one of the most effective acne medications available over the counter.
Start with a product that has 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide and increase the dose (you can also buy products with .5 and .10 percent) if you do not begin seeing results after about a week. Apply benzoyl peroxide to each blemish twice a day. Increase to three times a day for moderate to severe acne.
Use an astringent with alcohol and acetone once a day. An astringent will clear up oil deposits in your pores and clear dirt and bacteria.
Exfoliate your skin only two or three times a week. Exfoliattion will help loosen clogged pores. However, the abrasive ingredient in an exfoliater, if used too often, can be damaging to your skin.
Continue your regimen between breakouts. Because pimples begin beneath the surface of the skin, the only way to stay on top of breakouts is to continue treating your acne even if you cannot see it. Once your acne disappears completely for about three months, you can stop your routine and see if the acne returns.
Talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for Retin-A, Differen, an antibiotic or birth control pill for moderate, severe or cyclical acne. Your doctor can determine which medications will most help your condition.
Benzoyl peroxide will affect everyone’s skin differently. Adjust dosage and applications until you find a combination that works for you.
An astringent could be irritating to sensitive skin. Discontinue use if your skin turns red or patchy or if you feel stinging and burning.
Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.