For the nearly 50 million Americans affected by acne, the many available medications and treatments can be confusing and overwhelming.
It's easy to make mistakes treating acne or even make it worse, despite the best intentions.
Here, experts list the most common mistakes. In most cases, a dermatologist can help undo the damage.
Get treatment. First, see a dermatologist to help clear up your skin.
"The absolute best way to improve negative feelings about acne is to treat it," says David Pariser, MD, a former president of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Be patient. It may take 6 to 8 weeks until you start to see results, but there are all kinds of pills, creams, and other treatments that can help.
Cover up. Many safe products can hide your outbreaks and won't make your acne worse.
"I think that covering up and helping to camouflage is a huge part of helping you face the world in the morning," says New York dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD.
When choosing makeup, look for the word "noncomedogenic" on the label. That means it won't clog your pores.
It's also a good idea to use makeup that is oil-free and water-based. You can also hide outbreaks with sunscreens, moisturizers, and spot acne treatments that are tinted.
Talk to other people. When you have acne, you may feel like being by yourself. But it's a much better idea to be around other people.
"Being social and being able to share anxiety with friends helps," Bowe says. "It's OK even if it's anonymously through an online forum or talking to someone about what they did to take action." Ask your doctor for suggestions for online groups if you don't want to talk to people in person about your situation.
De-stress. Stress doesn't cause acne, but it can make the outbreaks you already have worse. That can make you even more stressed.
"And what goes along with stress are habitual behaviors like picking and squeezing, which makes acne so much worse," says Adam Friedman, MD, director of dermatologic research at Montefiore Medical Center.