Top 8 Acne Treatment Mistakes
Common ways people go wrong in treating their acne.
Mistake No. 5: Popping and picking at pimples
Popping and picking pimples prolongs healing time and increases 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 excessive scarring, or if over-the-counter (OTC) medications aren't clearing it up.
Dermatologists have more tools to treat acne, and can prescribe stronger doses of OTC medications and oral antibiotics. They also offer new technologies, such as light and laser therapy, and chemical peels. However, newer does not necessarily mean better, and these treatments are probably not necessary to treat a patient's acne, Armstong 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 patient could have rosacea, which usually requires different treatment than acne. Rosacea is a long-term disease that causes redness and pimples.
Mistake No. 7: Overusing or under using a prescribed acne medication
Berson says she stresses to patients to use the medication as instructed. Overusage will not help clear the acne, but can cause additional redness and dryness.
Not sticking to a regimen delays any potential improvements.
Half of the battle is consistency. Many people under use because they lose motivation after the first two weeks. They can't expect results overnight, Armstrong says.
Underusing the medication by spot-treating fails to prevent breakouts.
“You need to apply medication to the entire affected area that tends to break out, instead of spot treating. With spot treating, you haven't addressed the area next to it, where another pimple could be brewing, Berson says.
Mistake No. 8: Stopping the use of acne medication once it clears up
It is best to taper medication usage by using it less and less. For example, if you've been using it twice a day, use it once a day for awhile, then once every other day, then twice a week, and then stop. It often takes acne four to six weeks to return, just like it took it the same amount of time for it to get better, Reed says.
To keep skin blemish-free, most people need to continue usage with at least one acne product. It's possible to cut down to a few times a week if someone is using an OTC medication.