In the morning, I recommend cleaning the face and other acne-prone areas such as the neck, chest, and upper back with a medicated wash containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Pat the skin dry, then apply a moisturizer, ideally with an SPF of 30 or higher. If the moisturizer doesn’t contain sunscreen, then add sunscreen. If desired, apply oil-free makeup products to the skin.
If wearing a mask for several hours, try to wash your face midday with a soothing facewash, then moisturize and remask using a new, clean mask.
In the evening, I recommend washing the face with a soothing face wash. After that, apply a retinol or retinoid to the face about 1.5 hours after washing. Then, moisturize.
Apply acne medications to the entire acne-prone area rather than only treating active acne lesions. Avoid scratching and touching acne lesions. If you play sports or engage in other activities that cause a lot of sweating, it’s important to wash your face afterward.
Sometimes a good skin care routine, which includes over-the-counter (OTC) products, can help to treat acne and maintain clear skin.
However, acne can be a chronic problem. Once you establish a good skin care routine, it’s important to keep it up to minimize future breakouts.
A good skin care routine can help with mild acne. But it can take up to 3 months for acne treatment regimens to work. Acne may continue to flare during this time period. And certain types of mild acne, moderate to severe acne, including cystic and scarring acne, as well as hormonal acne, often require prescription medications. Seeing a board certified dermatologist can help.
Yes, retinol can help acne-prone skin. But retinol can take up to 3 months to work and be irritating. Using a retinol alongside a moisturizer is often helpful.
Vitamin A has properties that can be helpful in treating acne. Interestingly, retinoids are vitamin A derivatives.
It’s important to consult with a doctor before using vitamin A for acne as it can have harmful side effects if used inappropriately. Zinc supplementation has also been found to help improve acne.
Some reports indicate that high doses of vitamin B6 and B12 could potentially exacerbate acne. Iodine, which can be a component of multivitamins, can also cause acne and lead to acne flares.
Dr. Sarika Manoj Ramachandran is an ABMS board certified dermatologist at Yale Medicine and medical director of the Branford, Connecticut, location. She is also an associate professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. Her clinical and research focus is in medical dermatology, with a special interest in rheumatologic dermatology conditions such as cutaneous lupus, scleroderma, and morphea.