The third installment in The Acne Series is 5 ways to treat acne once it begins. While I have no medical training, I have personally used all five of these methods to help rid my skin of acne. If you have a dermatologist, please consult your dermatologist before attempting to treat your acne.
1. Hormonal birth control is a great way to help manage acne. If you notice that your acne worsens at certain times during the month and not others, your hormonal fluctuations may be causing the not-so-clear complexion. Talk to your dermatologist or primary care physician to see if hormonal birth control is an option for you.
2. I have a love hate relationship with benzyl peroxide cream. Does it work? Yes. Does it dry out my skin? Yes. Does it bleach all my clothes? Absolutely. As a cheap alternative to expensive cleansers and lotions, benzyl peroxide cream can be purchased at any drug store. To use maximum strength benzyl peroxide, it should be applied frequently in small quantities. The packaging suggests three times a day. The skin must clean and makeup free and benzyl peroxide should never be applied when you're about to use a tanning bed or spend an extended amount of time in the sun as it can cause extreme dryness and irritation.
3. Lancing is a complex and controversial way to deal with acne. Lancing involves a small metal tool called an extractor. An extractor has a pointed end and another end that has a metal loop. To lance a white head (the only kind of acne that is okay to lance). The metal lance and loop should be sterilized by completely submerging it in acetone for 60 seconds on each end or with 60 second under a lighter.
To prep for lancing, cleanse the skin around the blemish and lance by poking the thinnest layer of skin horizontally and then lifting the skin away from the face at a 90 degree angle. Once there is a small opening, take the metal loop, place it so that the opening of the blemish is in the center and press firmly and gently down until the sebum is released.
Clean the extractor and skin after each blemish and apply Neosporin to the lanced blemishes to prevent them from coming back or getting infected. I find it best to lance at night before I go to bed because it gives my face time to heal before putting on makeup the next morning. Again, the only kind of acne it is okay to lance are whiteheads. Never lance cystic acne.
4. Pore strips are great for blackheads. It's important to use pore strips after you have opened your pores in the shower or a sauna. Many people incorrectly assume that dark spots around the nose are all blackheads when in most cases it's probably just sebaceous filaments which help prevent acne from forming. Examine your "blackheads" closely. If you find that pore strips are completely ineffective, you are probably trying to rid your nose of sebaceous filaments.
5. Scarring is an acne sufferers worst nightmare. Cystic acne should never be lanced or picked at because it will cause scarring as the skin tries to heal itself.
The chest and back scars very easily, so it's important never to pick at those areas unless it's to correctly lance a whitehead.
Microdermabrasion is a good solution for acne scars. Unfortunately microderm abrasion should be done by a professional dermatologist and can be pricey. While microdermabrasion minimizes the visibility of acne scars, often times it doesn't remove the scars completely without consistent and persistent treatment. The real goal with scarring is prevention... and that's easier said than done.