What I Wish I Knew About Acne (Before I Started…

Updated December 04, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.

Acne is a complicated problem, and one that is still not fully understood. I didn’t realize just how tough it is to have acne, until I suddenly started breaking out. And I just as suddenly came to appreciate how hard acne is to treat.

Looking back on my personal experience with acne, I can see some things I would have done differently, knowing what I know now. So, I hope by sharing these thoughts with you, you’ll get better results from your treatments.

Acne needs to be treated aggressively, immediately.

This is probably the most important piece of advice I could ever give you. Even if acne is relatively mild, it can progress quickly. And once it takes hold, it’s tough to get rid of.

You could spend months or years trying many over-the-counter options, and still not get results. Instead, give yourself three months with OTC products. At the end of those three months, if your skin isn’t reasonably clear, go see a physician. (Yeah, that soon.) You’ll save time and money in the long run, and you’ll also save your skin from worsening acne and possible scarring. Treat acne aggressively as quickly as possible.

One treatment (usually) doesn’t cut it.

Here’s the thing: acne is caused by several different factors all occurring at once. So, to really get good results you’ll often need to use more than one treatment. Each treatment should address one cause of acne .

For example, your doctor may prescribe a topical retinoid to help keep pores from becoming clogged and an antibiotic to reduce acne-causing bacteria. If you’re treating acne with over-the-counter products, you might consider using a cleanser that contains salicylic acid (a good pore-unclogger) as well as a benzoyl peroxide lotion (to reduce bacteria).

Of course, using more than one treatment at a time can up your chances of getting dry, peeling skin. So just start off slowly to allow your skin to adjust. But combining treatments this way is hugely effective. In fact, lots of prescription treatments contain combos of two different acne medications (Epiduo, Ziana, and Duac are some examples).

Acne waxes and wanes.

I remember trying a new product. My skin would start looking better and I’d be thrilled, only to find a few weeks later that the product “stopped working” and I’d be breaking out again. So, I’d switch to a different acne treatment and get results, again temporarily. This would repeat itself over and over.

If I had only known that it’s natural and normal for acne to get better and worse, all on its own. What I was attributing to products probably just was the natural progression of acne.

There are times when your skin is going to go through a big breakout, and times when it will look better. Often, there is no rhyme or reason to a bad breakout. They can happen for apparently no reason at all. But it’s normal.

That’s why it’s important to keep using your treatments, even if it looks like acne is getting worse. It sometimes takes a few of these normal “acne cycles” for you to notice a real difference. (And another reason to stick with treatment, even after acne gets better.)

Even the pros need time to build an effective treatment plan.

We know what works in general. But we don’t know exactly how a treatment is going to work for you until you actually try it. Everyone’s skin is a little different. Everyone’s acne is a little different. What works wonders for some people may not have much of an effect on others. This can be a hard thing to cope with, especially when you’re spending time and money to see a dermatologist and seeing results that aren’t so stellar.

But try to be patient, use the treatments you’ve been prescribed as directed, and keep your dermatologist in the loop. If you’re not getting results you want, don’t immediately dump your dermatologist for a new one or, even worse, stop seeing a dermatologist for your acne altogether. Let your derm know you aren’t seeing results, and let them adjust your treatment plan accordingly. It can take a few tries to get that effective treatment plan in place.

Effective treatment doesn’t mean no acne ever again.

Effectively treating acne is about controlling breakouts, so it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never get another pimple again. In fact, you’ll probably get breakouts occasionally. It is reasonable to expect relatively clear skin most of the time. So, keep working with your dermatologist to find a treatment that works for you, and don’t give up.

Can You Shrink Enlarged Pores?

Updated January 01, 2014.

Question: Can You Shrink Enlarged Pores?


There is no product that will permanently shrink enlarged pores, but there are treatments that can help improve the look and texture of the skin:

  • Over-the-counter products that use salicylic acid, glycolic acid, other alpha hydroxy acids, or retinol may be of some help. These exfoliating ingredients keep your pores from becoming clogged (which makes them more obvious) and speed up cell turnover rates.
  • Prescription products, such as topical retinoids, are very effective at smoothing your skin. They’re also used to slow premature aging, prevent sun damage, and improve acne.
  • Professional treatments are also useful. Microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing can help minimize the appearance of large pores. These procedures can be done at your dermatologist’s office, day spa or skin spa. Usually, a series of treatments is needed to see improvement.
  • Pore-minimizing lotions can temporarily make enlarged pores look smaller. They also help keep makeup from settling around large pores, which can make them look more obvious. It isn’t a permanent solution, but the immediate results are gratifying. Shop around until you find a brand you’re happy with.

    If all else fails, remember that your enlarged pores are much more noticeable to you than they are to anyone else.


    “Chemical Peeling.” American Academy of Dermatology. 29 Sep 2006. American Academy of Dermatology, Web. Accessed 7 Nov 07.

    Freedman, Bruce, Eugenia Rueda-Pedraza, MD, and Sharon Waddell. “The Epidermal and Dermal Changes Associated with Microdermabrasion.” Dermatologic Surgery 27 (2001):1031-1034.

    Gerson, Joel. Standard Textbook for Professional Estheticians. Ed. Albany, NY: Milady Publishing, 1999. Print.

    “Tretinoin.” MedlinePlus. 03 April 2000. U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health. Accessed 9 Sep 2007.

Acne Treatments in Skin of Color

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - Photo © A.D.A.M.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is common in skin of color.  Photo © A.D.A.M.

Updated February 25, 2013.

As the landscape of America changes, more dermatologists are becoming aware of the differences in the skin of those of African, Asian, Latin/Hispanic, and Native American heritage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 35% of the U.S. population is persons of color. That figure is expected to rise to nearly 50% by 2050. For those with beautiful brown skin, acne presents unique challenges.

The Characteristics of Ethnic Skin

Ethnic skin varies in tone from light to very deep brown, depending on the amount of

melanin found. Melanin is the protein pigment responsible for coloring the skin, hair, and eyes. It is also the pigment that darkens the skin as it tans. Darker skin contains higher amounts of melanin than lighter skin.

When treating acne in skin of color, special care must be taken. It is often (wrongly) believed that darker skin is tougher than it’s lighter counterparts. Actually, brown skin can be very sensitive, and must be treated very gently.

Discoloration and Scarring is Common

While all skin colors are at risk for developing discolorations, brown skin is especially susceptible because of the higher amount of melanin found. Skin of color is more prone to dark spots or patches (hyperpigmentation), loss of skin color (hypo-pigmentation), and scarring. Acne and certain acne treatments can exacerbate discolorations.

It is especially important to avoid picking, squeezing, or otherwise irritating acne blemishes. Doing so can easily scar any skin color, but especially ethnic skin. Dark skin tones are prone to developing keloid scars. Keloids are large masses of tissue that develop after a wound heals. Keloid scars grow larger than the original wound.

More commonly, acne causes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the natural response of the skin to a wound, such as a cut, scratch, or acne blemish. After the wound heals, a darkened spot or patch remains. This patch can range from very light and faint to very dark and obvious.

It is important to note that certain acne treatment products can cause skin discolorations in persons of color. Any product that causes dryness or irritation puts the user at risk for hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin. Special care must be taken when using retinoids such as Retin-A or Differen gel, benzoyl peroxide, and other such topical treatments. If excessive dryness, burning, or irritation occurs, tell your doctor right away.

What Can I Do About Discoloration?

Hyperpigmentation is the most common complaint among people of color who suffer from acne. The discoloration can be quite pronounced and widespread. While most hyperpigmentation will gradually fade over time, it can be severe enough to cause embarrassment and affect the self-esteem of sufferers.

There are many over-the-counter and prescription lightening creams available to help fade discolorations more quickly. Some prescription acne creams can also help lighten hyperpigmentation while healing breakouts. You best solution is to talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to suggest appropriate products to make post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation disappear.

People with brown skin often forgo sunscreen; however, regular sunscreen use may help dark spots to fade more quickly. Many dermatologists find sun exposure increases fading time. If you have hyperpigmentation spots, daily application of a noncomedogenic sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 may be helpful.

The Effects of Hair and Skin Care Products

Surveys have shown nearly half of all acne patients with ethnic skin use pomade, or other oils and ointments, for their hair. More than 70% of these patients developed acne on the forehead. Oil-based hair products can easily block pores, creating acne breakouts. Pomade-induced acne, or acne cosmetica , consists of blackheads , whiteheads , and general “bumpiness” along the forehead, temples and hairline.

Once the use of oil-based hair products is stopped, acne readily clears. However, many people find hair pomades are a necessity because of dry scalp, dry hair, or to help make hair manageable. If this is the case, avoid applying the product where it can come in contact with the forehead or temples. Doctor Susan Taylor, author of “Acne Vulgaris in People of Color,” recommends applying pomade at least one inch behind the hairline, or applying only to the ends of the hair. Use as little product as possible to get desired result.

Dry or “ashy” skin is common among dark skin tones. If you are prone to acne, choose your moisturizing products carefully. Certain creams and lotions, such as cocoa butter, can clog pores and make acne worse. Always choose light, oil-free moisturizers that are labeled noncomedogenic.

Source: Taylor SC, Cook-Bolden F, Rahman Z, Strachan D. “Acne vulgaris in skin of color.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2002); 46 (2): S98-S105.

Diagnosing Acne

Updated April 16, 2014.

Most people can easily self-diagnose mild acne, which can be treated at home using over-the-counter products. However, if you are unsure if what you are experiencing is acne, or if your acne seems severe, see your dermatologist. Acne is diagnosed by a simple visual inspection by your doctor. There is no test for acne.

What is Acne?

Grades of Acne

When diagnosing acne, dermatologists classify it into four grades. They evaluate the types of comedones present, amount of inflammation present, breakout severity, how widespread the acne is and what areas of the body are affected.

Grades of acne are classified as follows:

  • Grade I – The mildest form of acne. The skin will display blackheads, whiteheads or milia, and occasionally minor pimples. There is no inflammation. Grade I acne can usually be cleared with over-the-counter treatments.
  • Grade II – Considered moderate acne. A greater number of blackheads and whiteheads are on the skin. Papules and pustules are more frequently found. Grade II acne may also be treated with over-the-counter products. However, if there is no improvement after six to eight weeks, consult your doctor.
  • Grade III – Moderate to severe acne. The difference between Grade II and Grade III acne is the amount of inflammation present. Papules and pustules will be more numerous and there will be a greater amount of redness and inflammation found on the skin. Nodules are often present. This type of acne should be evaluated by your dermatologist.
  • Grade IV – The most severe grade of acne, the skin will display many pustules, nodules, and cysts. Blackheads and whiteheads are numerous. There is pronounced inflammation, and breakouts likely extend to areas other than the face. Grade IV acne, also called cystic acne, must be treated by a dermatologist.

Types of Non-Inflamed Acne Breakouts
Types of Inflamed Acne Breakouts

Acne Look-Alikes

Some skin conditions can look remarkably similar to acne, although their causes and treatments are different. Do you have acne or an acne look-alike condition? If you are unsure, it is always wise to consult with a doctor. Common skin conditions that can be mistaken for acne include:

  • Rosacea – Causes red, flushed skin with papules and pustules, especially in the nose and cheek area.
  • Folliculitis – Bumps or pustules caused by inflammation of the hair follicle.
  • Keratosis pilaris – Small, rough, “goose-flesh” like bumps most often found on the upper arms, thighs and buttocks, and sometimes the face.
  • Miliaria rubra – Small red bumps on the surface of the skin caused by excessive heat exposure. Also known as heat rash.

Natural Ways To Avoid Acne And Have Perfect Glowing Skin (Alton Patrick)

Acne can occur as white heads or black heads. It can be tender red bumps or pustules which occur occasionally. Acne is a kind of infection of the hair follicle which can occur on the face, chest and back in a growing adults and it is believed to be a problem that happens due to malfunctioning of endocrines. Excess production of androgens is linked to the reoccurrence of acne in youngster but there are many other causes and health factors which are linked to it as it can be found even in grownups. It is assumed that it is not caused by bacteria but the infection on the skin is linked to bacteria. The treatment for the problem by the natural ways to avoid acne is based on the combination of extracts collected from medicinal trees to prevent outgrowth of infection causing bacteria in body.

Golden Glow capsules provide natural ways to avoid acne. It is made up of herbs which can improve digestive functions. The capsule reduces internal infections. It prevents bacterial outgrowth in the gut region. It enriches the body and regulates internal body process. It reduces the level of toxins in blood stream as it is made up of medicinal components such as exadirecta indica (neem), ocimum sanctum linn (tulsi), curcuma longa linn (haldi), glycyrrhiza glabra (mulethi) etc. ocimum sanctum linn and exadirecta indica are very powerful natural production that has anti inflammatory properties and it can protect body against any form of infection. Especially Ocimum sanctum is used to cure poison in body and immune disorders caused by presence of toxins in the blood stream. The medicinal plants give natural ways to avoid acne as it has the property to purify blood to prevent its flow to the skin surface, which causes acne.

It is believed that certain types of oily foods can cause acne. Basically the overall health of a person should be good and acne can happen if somebody does not have a healthy gut. It is believed that leaky gut and stress are interlinked.

Link of leaky gut to acne: Leaky gut crosses the intestinal barrier and toxins enter the bloodstream. People who suffer from constipation have overgrowth of intestinal bacteria and this can cause pain in the abdomen. The pain can be caused by overgrowth of intestinal bacteria or due to poor digestive functions. These symptoms are also linked to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

To break the vicious system of constipation and acne, one can take remedies which can clear the gut region fast and prevent the accumulation of toxins in blood streams. It is important to restore the normal. All these conditions cause inflammation and pain in the gut region. To restore the normal intestinal conditions natural ways to avoid acne as provided by the capsule can be taken. Natural ways to avoid acne as provided by the capsule offers bioactive compounds which can prevent acne outgrowth on skin reduce marks and spots on skin and revive natural glow of the skin very easily.

Will Washing My Face with Antibacterial Hand…

Updated December 04, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.

Question: Will Washing My Face with Antibacterial Hand Soap Clear Acne?


It’s true that the bacterium Propioni acnes is one factor linked to acne development. Reducing acne-causing bacteria can have a positive effect on your skin.

But antibacterial hand soap isn’t great choice if you’re looking for a facial cleanser to treat acne.

First off, antibacterial hand soaps are made for, well, your hands. The skin on your hands can generally tolerate stronger cleansers than can the delicate skin on your face. Using hand soap on the face can easily over-dry and irritate your skin.

Secondly, bacteria is only one piece of the acne-causing puzzle. There are other factors at work too — hormones, abnormal shedding of skin cells, overactive sebaceous glands, development of comedones, to name a few. Antibacterial soap isn’t going to do anything to treat these acne causes.

If you’re keen on using an antibacterial soap to treat facial acne, choose one that is specifically made for the face. Triclosan, the active ingredient found in most antibacterial hand soaps, is incorporated into some brands of acne facial cleansers.

You can also choose an acne cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide not only will help reduce bacteria, but can also reduce oiliness and keep pores from becoming plugged.

You needn’t spent a lot of money on an acne cleanser either. A drugstore brand can work just as well as a fancy salon product.

So keep the hand soap for your hands. There are better antibacterial cleansing options for your face.


Choi YS, Suh HS, Yoon MY, Min SU, Kim JS, Jung JY, Lee DH, Suh DH. “A study of the efficacy of cleanser for acne vulgaris.” J Dermatolog Treat. 2010 May; 21(3):201-5.

United States. NIAMS. “Questions and Answers About Acne.” Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 2006.

Simple Tips To Cure Dark Spots Due To Acne Problem (Alton Patrick)

Acne is mostly a tough problem to resolve and many people who suffer from it, suffer from constant agony and loss of self-confidence. Intake of chemicals or laboratory based cures can deteriorate the condition. People who suffer from severe acne in the form of nodules, blackheads, whiteheads or small bumpy lesions are given a list of causes and precautions such as fluctuations of endocrines, manipulation, headgear, pollution, stress etc., and even after regulating these factors, the problem may not be resolved. The bacteria on the surface of skin can be cleaned once but reoccurring acne cannot be resolved without difficulty and this also leave dark spots on skin, which cannot be removed. For such conditions, one of the best tips to cure dark spots due to acne is to use natural care.

Taking Golden Glow capsules is one of the simplest and easiest tips to cure dark spots due to acne. It is made up of herbs which help in improving functioning of various body processes to improve skin texture and enhance its glow. A person who is not feeling healthy from inside will not look healthy outside. Does it mean the person who is suffering from gut problem will suffer from skin conditions? Yes, it can be petty minor acnes or major skin rashes.

Tips to cure dark spots due to acne: A research on 13000 adolescent kids found that 37 percent of them suffered from the problem of bloating as well. Psoriasis and eczema are two skin related problems which are related to immune disorders in a person and acne is directly related to digestive health. Different studies on acne have proved that stress is directly related to it. Depression, anxiety and changes in the gut functions can cause it. Leaky gut results in change in the microbial flora that is found in the digestive tract and this can cause local inflammation which develops into inflammation and infections on the skin.

Intake of herbs can help in reducing infections in the gut and it can help in absorption of herbal compounds in the bloodstream, which is antiseptic in nature. Hence, the best tips to cure dark spots due to acne are to take such herbs in regulated amount regularly. The natural compounds when flow in the bloodstream reduces reactions of such toxins in blood stream. It reduces infections on the skin surface and prevents its occurrence on the inner layers of the skin.

For example – Medicinal extracts of Exadirecta indica and Curcuma longa Linn are extremely effective in reducing infections to the body organs. It also helps in reducing infections in the gut region. It improves body’s metabolism and digestion of food and can help the body to get nutrition which improves skin texture and reduces dark spots. This is one of the ingredients of the capsule, which contains more than 20 different natural extracts. One of the most useful tips to cure dark spots due to acne is to take the above mentioned herbal remedy regularly for two to three months to completely get rid of spots and completely prevent reoccurrence of acne on skin surface.

How to Treat Acne When You're Pregnant

pregnancy acne - Sergio Pitamitz Collection/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Sergio Pitamitz Collection/Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images

Updated May 17, 2014.

Watch the video: How To Treat Acne During Pregnancy

Many pregnant women are bothered by a sudden flare-up of acne breakouts, even if the skin has been relatively clear for years. Some women find they are developing acne for the first time since becoming pregnant. While annoying, changes in the skin are common during pregnancy.

Most cases of pregnancy acne are triggered by the huge hormonal fluctuations that occur within the body. Many women report acne becoming its worst during the second trimester and gradually improving after that. For women who typically have clear skin, acne usually disappears sometime after delivery, although it may last longer if the mother is breastfeeding.

Treating Your Acne During Pregnancy

Good basic skin care will help keep the skin healthy. Cleanse the face morning and night with a gentle cleanser, such as Dove or Neutrogena. Avoid toners or astringents if they seem irritating. The skin is oftentimes more sensitive during pregnancy, so any skin care products you choose should be mild. Always follow up with a light moisturizing cream, preferably fragrance free.

If your acne is worsening, or you have been battling acne since before your pregnancy, you may feel the need for an acne treatment medication. For the health of your developing baby, you must be selective in the product you choose. While some treatments are safe, certain medications should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Treatments Considered Safe

While the treatments below are considered safe to use during pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor before using any acne medications, including over-the-counter products .

Some treatments recommended during pregnancy include:

Treatments to Avoid

Many acne treatment medications can harm a developing fetus and must be avoided during pregnancy. Let your dermatologist know you are pregnant before being treated for acne.

Treatments that must be avoided during pregnancy include:

  • Accutane (isotretinoin)
    Commonly known by its trade name Accutane, isotretinoin has been linked to severe birth defects in babies whose mothers took this drug while pregnant. Isotretinoin also increases the chance of miscarriage.
  • Topical retinoids
    Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should not use the topical retinoids Differin (adapalene), Tazorac (tazarotene), and Retin-A (tretinoin). The effect of topical retinoids on a developing fetus has not been studied thoroughly. As such, they should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Tetracycline
    Oral tetracycline, as well as its derivatives doxycycline and minocycline, can interfere with normal bone growth as well as discolor teeth of a developing fetus. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should not use these antibiotics.

This list should not be considered comprehensive. Always talk to your doctor before using any acne treatment medication while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Read More: Why Do I Have Acne Now That I’m Pregnant?

Review Of Herbal Acne Pills And Products From Health Expert (Alton Patrick)

Glowing skin can add attraction to the face and it will play a major role towards improving the personality of individuals as well. Among the many factors that affect the glow of one’s skin, acne is stated as an important factor and so to get the right kind of cure to acne and for improving the natural glow of skin, herbal acne pills can be helpful. But, before using any such pills, it is recommended to have a look at the review of herbal acne pills and products. Here is a review about such a product called as Golden Glow capsules:

Features of Golden Glow capsules:

1. It can cure all types of skin issues: Even though, it is stated that this remedy is ideal for acne, it can be a one shot solution for not only acne, but also many other skin issues and the final output will be a glowing skin.

2. Anti-bacterial properties: Ingredients like haldi present in these capsules have anti-bacterial properties and so it will help the skin to fight effectively against bacterial infections, thereby curbing the spreading of acne caused by bacteria.

3. Treatment for hormonal imbalances: It is stated that hormonal imbalances are one among the major causes of acne and the herbal ingredients present in Golden Glow capsules can cure such imbalances, thereby helping in smooth functioning of different organs of the body.

Benefits of Golden Glow capsules: When it comes to review of herbal acne pills and products, it is important that the benefits are also to be reviewed and here are the benefits to know:

1. It can improve immunity system: In addition to providing a glowing look to the skin by curing acne and other skin disorders, the effective ingredients present in these capsules are rich in antioxidants as well. So, it will help the skin to fight against age related issues, thereby giving a younger look to the skin.

2. Detoxification: As these capsules are consumed internally, they will play a major role towards detoxification of body as skin issues like acne are caused due to the presence of excessive toxins in the body. When these toxins are removed, the health of other organs like liver and kidney can also be ensured.

3. Inflammations are cured: Generally, inflammation is the biggest problem associated with acne and in addition to curing the swelling associated with acne, the anti-inflammatory ingredients present in these capsules can take this property to other organs of the body as well.


1. The greatest disadvantage is that this product can be procured only through online and cannot be found in local stores.

2. As it is herbal remedy, it cannot provide quick remedy to acne and it will take at least 3 to 4 months of consumption to get the desired results.

3. In addition, it is important that to get better results, people should follow a healthy lifestyle along with these capsules.

This review of herbal acne pills and products can help people in arriving at the decision about going for Golden Glow capsules.

All About Acne Scars and Acne Scar Treatment

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

The most common type of “scar” for acne patients isn’t a true scar at all, but rather a condition called
post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Nearly everyone with acne develops some degree of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

PIH looks like a flat area of discoloration on the skin and, as the name suggests, develops after an inflammatory lesion heals. PIH is the skin’s natural response to a wound. Luckily, PIH is not permanent, and will fade away over time. Certain treatments, such as Retin A, azelaic acid, microdermabrasion, and
chemical peels may help fade discolorations more quickly. More »