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Acne Health Center

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Top 8 Acne Treatment Mistakes

Common ways people go wrong in treating their acne.

Mistake No. 4: Choosing the Wrong Products for Acne-Prone Skin

Harsh cleansers, alkaline bar soaps, and alcohol-based products may worsen acne, says Berson, who has consulted for skin care product-makers Galderma Stiefel, Procter & Gamble, and Neutrogena.

Reed says she advises patients to look for “noncomedogenic” or “for acne-prone skin” products. Noncomedogenic products don't contain ingredients that tend to clog pores in people with acne-prone skin.

Certain ingredients found in products such as cosmetics, sunscreen, and moisturizers are more likely to clog pores. They include isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl myristate, butyl stearate, isopropyl isostearate, decyl oleate, isostearyl neopentanoate, isocetyl stearate, myristle myristate, cocoa butter, acetylated lanolin, and D & C red dyes. Products containing oil can clog pores and lead to breakouts.

Mistake No. 5: Popping and Picking at Pimples

Popping and picking pimples prolongs healing time and raises the risk of scarring. Infected material can get pushed further into the skin, leading to more swelling and redness.

“People tend to groom the lesions. They examine them very closely several times a day and start imagining that there is something they can stick in the lesion or extract from the lesion. So they pick and the lesion gets worse,” Reed says.

Mistake No. 6: Waiting Too Long to See a Dermatologist

It's time to make an appointment once acne starts taking a toll on self-esteem, becomes painful, causes scarring, or if over-the-counter (OTC) medications aren't clearing it up.

Dermatologists have more tools to treat acne and can prescribe stronger concentrations of OTC medications and oral antibiotics. They also offer light and laser therapy and chemical peels. But these treatments are probably not necessary to treat a patient's acne, Armstrong says.

Dermatologists can give prescription medicines that are tailored to the type of acne a person has and also their skin type, Reed says.

It's also possible a person could have rosacea, which usually requires different treatment than acne. Rosacea is a long-term disease that causes redness and pimples.

Mistake No. 7: Over-Using or Under-Using a Prescribed Acne Medication

Berson says she stresses to patients to use the medication as instructed. Over-usage won't help clear the acne. It can cause more redness and dryness.

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