You can help prevent acne from getting worse by the way you wash your face:
- Gently wash your face once or twice a day with warm water and a mild soap or acne wash.
- Use gentle, circling motions rather than scrubbing your face.
- Always completely rinse your skin after you wash it, and gently pat it dry. Avoid rubbing your skin.
- If your face feels dry after washing it, use a moisturizing lotion. Look for skin care products that say "noncomedogenic" on the label.
Other tips include the following:
- Shower as soon as you can after any activity that causes heavy sweating, especially sports.
- Try keeping your hair off your face. Having hair hanging in your face can cause a breakout. Washing your hair every day may help.
- Try not to scrub or pick at your pimples. This can make them worse and can cause scars.
For mild acne
Mild acne, with a few pimples that clear up on their own, may not need any medical treatment. Try an acne cream or gel that contains adapalene, benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid. These work best when used just the way the label says.
It can take time to get acne under control. But if you haven't had good results with nonprescription products after trying them for 3 months, see your doctor. A prescription gel or skin cream may be all you need.
For moderate or severe acne
Moderate acne can mean more pimples or skin that always has breakouts. Severe acne can mean hundreds of pimples that cover the face, neck, chest, and back, or bigger, solid red lumps that are painful (cysts). For moderate or severe acne, call your doctor. There are medical treatments that can help get acne under control. And getting treatment early may prevent acne from getting worse or from causing scars.
Current as of: April 1, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Ellen K. Roh, MD - Dermatology