How To Treat Acne

How To Treat Acne

Over the last few years, acne treatments have had a dramatic turn, and today we understand our skin and its needs better than ever before. However, this also means that there are a lot of products on the market which make great claims but may not always be suitable for your skin. For the best results, it is vital that you understand how to treat acne based on its severity, as using too many of or the wrong products can not only break you out more, but can also cause dryness, irritation and sensitivity.

Always look at your skin as an individual case and work out which type of acne you suffer from.  Acne is divided in to three types, mild, moderate and severe.  These are often based on the type and amount of lesions you suffer from and whether you have inflammatory acne or not.

More information about types or acne and severity can be found here. If you are not sure about the type of acne you have, then speak to your pharmacist or dermatologist who can help you to identify your main concerns.

How To Treat Acne Based On Your Skin Type

It is vital that you treat your acne based on its severity, as the wrong products can cause serious aggravation and further damage.

Mild Acne

This is when you suffer from around 15-30 spots at any one time.  This type of acne should first be treated with changes in your skincare routine and lifestyle. As spots and acne start with the blocking of your pores, trying to reduce this can help with the worsening and development of lesions. One of the first steps to take is finding a good cleanser which has been designed for oil control and deep cleansing. This will remove all signs of makeup, dirt, impurities and excess oils, which is turn keeps your pores nice and clean.  Gentle exfoliation, especially with products containing AHA/BHA are also a great way of keeping your pores unclogged and clear of dead skin cell build-up.


On the spot treatments are also a great investment and a must to keep in your bag as these can target the problem areas without compromising healthy skin.  Look for products which consist of Benzyl Peroxide, Salicylic acid and Sulphur as these have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties alongside being really good exfoliators.


Moderate Acne

This is identified as having 50 inflamed or up to 100 non-inflamed spots at any one time. Along with improving your skincare, you should seek a medical opinion to find out the best options available for you. Most pharmacies offer topical products which can be bought over the counter. These normally contain Benzyl Peroxide (antiseptic) or Azelaic Acid which helps to unclog pores.  If you feel that these are not effective, then you can apply other topical treatments on prescription from your doctor.  Topical antibiotics and topical retinoids (Tretinoin or Adapalene) are both extremely effective when it comes to managing your acne.

Depending on your skin needs and your acne type, oral supplements and medication can also make a big difference to your skin. Oral antibiotics such as Erythromycin and Lymecycline are often prescribed as 3 month treatments and can readily reduce bacteria induced and inflamed acne. Using medicated supplements such as those from AcnEase are also a great alternative to treating your skin from within. These contain a balance of key ingredients which can help to regulate oil production.

Severe Acne

If you have more than 150 lesions and also suffer in different areas of your body, then you should seek a medical opinion, as it may be essential to find out the cause and then treat your acne accordingly.  Normally those with severe acne should try out using oral antibiotics alongside using topical treatments while also improving their skincare routine.

If after 6 weeks of treatment, your symptoms have not improved, then you may be offered Isotretinoin.  Isotretinoin is not often prescribed due to its side effects, however your doctor and skin specialist will assess you before this is prescribed. Isotretinoin is highly effective and works by regulating sebum production, minimizing bacterial growth, and working against inflammation associated with acne.

Lifestyle and Other Options

Those who find that their acne is triggered by hormonal changes may find that starting the contraceptive pill can help to manage this. Co-cyprindiol or Dianette are great at controlling sebum production as they reduce androgens in your body, which are often linked with acne.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating healthily have also been shown to improve your skin. Certain people can be sensitive to dairy, gluten or sugar, and reducing your intake of these can also be effective.  However, always speak to a healthcare professional before making any dramatic changes to your diet.

You can find more information about diet and acne here too.

One essential point to remember is that your skin can take up to 6 weeks to show any changes, and it is therefore essential that you give a product this long to see its full effectiveness. Try not to use a lot of products together as this can strip your skin and make it really dry.

Remember acne is very common and there are a lot of options out there which can help you manage your skin. So if you have tried a few acne treatments and have not seen improvement then speak to your doctor about your concern.

If you have any other questions or would like to find out more about any of the products and medications mentioned then email me on



Resident Pharmacist

With a Masters in Pharmacy, I am here to explain the science behind the beauty. I offer expert advice on ingredients, the latest Skincare trends, lifestyle choices and any skin concerns you may have. I enjoy travelling and taking part in running events like Tough Mudder and the Colour Run. Currently loving: La Roche Posay Eau Thermal