The Best Treatment Options for Acne

Updated 05/15/19
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One of the best treatment options for acne is a mix of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide products. Depending on your preference, you can try one product before the other or attempt the 3-punch system listed below.

It's important to keep in mind that teen acne and adult acne should be treated differently. Teenage skin is relatively thick compared to the skin of an adult and most acne products are formulated for teenage skin mainly because teenagers are the main sufferers of acne. If you are an adult dealing with acne, use the less harsh versions of the treatments below. Stick to benzoyl peroxide products in the 2.5 percent range and salicylic acid gels, pads, and cleansers in the .5 percent range.

Miracle Product No. 1: Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is great for acne because it kills the bacteria that grows in your pores. It can be used in 2.5 percent, 5 percent, and 10 percent concentrations.

If you have a mild case of pimples or a mild breakout, use a benzoyl peroxide product such as Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser or ZAPZYT Maximum Strength 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Gel to kill the bacteria. You should see results within a week and you'll want to keep using it once acne is cleared up to keep it from coming back.

One potential drawback is that benzoyl peroxide can be harsh to the skin. If you find it's too inflammatory, you can switch right away to a milder salicylic acid product for treatment. If you're an adult, look for products with 2.5% concentrations. Your skin may be too sensitive for the harsher formulas. Another issue is that it can stain clothes so be careful to keep it from getting on your beloved outfits.

Miracle Product No. 2: Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is an exfoliating ingredient and natural anti-inflammatory found in many over-the-counter acne products. It won't kill bacteria (that's what the benzoyl peroxide does) but it will dissolve the gunked-up dead skin cells that collect in the pores, causing pimples. It will also calm down the redness caused by breakouts. You can find salicylic acid in cleansers, lotions, gels, creams, toners, and pads.

Look for a product that contains between .5 percent and 2 percent salicylic acid (stick to the .5 percent if you are an adult or have sensitive skin). Great products include Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser, Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Cleansing Pads, Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads, Noxzema Triple Clean Anti-Blemish Pads, OXY Cleansing Pads, and Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel.

Choose only one salicylic acid product and follow the directions. Do not use it more than recommended. If you over-use it or combine it with other medications, you can aggravate the skin even more. And once your pimples clear up, you can continue using the salicylic acid for its great exfoliating benefits.

The 3-Punch Treatment Plan

You can combine benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid products to really clear up acne. The salicylic acid will clear out your pores while the benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that has grown within them. Here's how it works.

  • Step 1: Cleanse skin with a mild cleanser (dermatologists recommend Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser)
  • Step 2: Apply the benzoyl peroxide pad or wash
  • Step 3: Apply the salicylic acid pad or gel

Stick with the treatment and you can expect results within a month.

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