5 Common Q & A’s about Acne
If you’re struggling to manage acne, you’re not alone. Acne is the single most common skin disorder in the United States, and it can affect anyone of any age. Although there are countless products and even at-home treatments out there that claim to be the “miracle cure” for this problem, many people have trouble clearing their skin because they’re not using the right treatments or are not giving those treatments enough time to work.
To help you get acne under control, take a look at these common questions about acne and their answers.
Q. Can I Get Acne Even If I Have Dry Skin?
A: Yes, both dry and oily skin types can develop breakouts, although some skin types are more prone to acne than others. Acne happens when your skin produces excess oil, which can trap dirt and bacteria inside your pores. This leads to the inflammation and redness that you see when you get a breakout.
Even if you have dry skin, dead skin cells, dirt, and makeup can also contribute to clogged pores and lead to acne.
Q. What’s the Difference between Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide?
A: Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are both common topical treatments for acne, but each serves a different purpose. Salicylic acid helps to exfoliate the skin and keep pores clear of dirt and debris, whereas benzoyl peroxide works by killing the P. acnes bacteria that causes acne.
In some cases, your dermatologist may recommend using both products together, as they work in different ways. However, it’s generally a good idea to start with salicylic acid first, as benzoyl peroxide can be irritating. Most skin types will do well with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser, such as Topix Benzoyl Peroxide 5% Wash, but check with your dermatologist before starting a new acne treatment.
Keep in mind, too, that no matter which acne treatment you try, you should give it at least eight weeks before trying something different.
Q. Does Chocolate Cause Acne?
A: There is no evidence that chocolate itself causes acne. However, some studies have shown a link between sugar consumption and acne, so if you’re eating milk chocolate that contains sugar, this could trigger breakouts. Recent research has also shown a link between dairy–particularly milk–and acne, so limiting your intake of these foods might help to clear your skin (American Academy of Dermatology).
Q. How Effective Is Light Therapy for Acne?
A: Light therapy, performed both at-home and at a doctor’s office, has become a popular treatment method for acne. Research shows that blue light therapy can be an effective solution for mild to moderate acne because P. acnes bacteria contains a substance called porphyrin, which absorbs the blue wavelengths of light. This process destroys the bacteria and, in turn, clears your skin (Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology).
If you’re considering blue light therapy for acne, consult your dermatologist for recommendations for at-home devices or in-office procedures.
Q. Is It Ever Okay to Pop a Pimple?
A: In a perfect world, we would leave pimples to heal on their own without popping or picking at them. Realistically, however, this isn’t always possible, especially if you have an important event that you’d rather not attend with a pus-filled pimple in the middle of your face.
That said, if you are going to pop a pimple, there is a right way to do it. First, only pop a pimple if it has a visible whitehead. Otherwise, it’s not ready and you may end up damaging your skin. If it’s ready, start by washing your hands. Next, hold a warm washcloth over the pimple for a few minutes, then gently press two cotton swabs on either side of the pimple.
Finally, apply a salicylic acid spot treatment to the affected area. Don’t try to pop it again for at least 12 hours. Then, if you have to, repeat this process and be patient. This method will allow your blemishes to heal much faster than if you were to keep picking at them with your fingernails.
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.