Acne 101: How to Get Rid of Mild Acne

Rihanna with Acne

Following on from my post on What is Acne Vulgaris, What Causes Acne? and How to Prevent Acne, this post delves on how to treat mild forms of acne.

Mild acne is typically restricted to the face and is characterized non-inflammatory closed and open comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) with very few inflammatory skin lesions.

For non-inflammatory comedones, the advised treatment are creams containing retinoic acid.

Topical Retinoids

Products containing retinoic acid are called retinoids. These are vitamin A derivatives that reverse keratinocyte desquamation and adhesion (one of four processes in acne formation), resulting in the break down of the comedone and prevents the development of new microcomedones. Several retinoids also have anti-inflammatory qualities. These are recommended for all acne cases, of course apart from when oral retinoids are being used. Improvement occurs within weeks with maximum benefit after 3 to 4 months.

Adverse reactions of retinoids include temporary skin irritation which can be avoided by selecting lower concentrations or reducing frequency of application (eg. every other day as opposed to everyday). Some individuals also experience an initial 'flare' of acne that goes away with ongoing use once the retinoid has changed the skin at a cellular level.

The most important side effect to know about is that these can potentially cause birth defects and complications with babies so ladies of child-bearing age need to think about birth control, expecting and breastfeeding ladies should also steer clear of these in that time.

A multitude of topical retinoids are available, such as tretinoin, isotretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene. There are also lower strength grades which don't require prescription. My favourite non-prescription one at the present is one by Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturiser that has been perfecting my skin for months now.

When few inflammatory lesions can be found in mild acne, retinoids are ought to be combined with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as 'spot' treatments.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a non-antibiotic anti-microbial agents which kills bacteria (P. acnes) by creating reactive oxygen species inside the follicle. This quickly treats inflammatory skin lesions in contrast to retinoids and also weakly breaks down the comedones.

Benzoyl peroxide is available different concentrations ranging from 2.5% to 10%. Side effects include skin irritation, which is increased with greater concentrations and frequency of use. After a while your skin becomes used to it and the irritation resolves. Benzoyl peroxide can also whiten clothing, bed linen and hair. Lastly, due to the fact that most retinoids are unstable together with benzoyl peroxide, these agents should be used separately.

To reduce adverse reactions, spot therapy with these benzoyl peroxide can be used ie. only on the inflammatory lesions, together with retinoids as maintenance therapy.

A very popular over-the-counter product with benzoyl peroxide is our beloved La Roche-Posay Effaclar.

This is how to treat mild acne, but do you have acne on your face, chest and back? Stay tuned for my next post in this series - How to Get Rid of Moderate Acne.

If you've got a question or an opinion on this, leave a comment at the bottom of this post! 
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  1. I am going to use Effaclar Duo as a spot treatment! It might just work! have a stubborn dry spot which isn't budging off my face!

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  2. Oh yes I just saw! I love your blog! been following you on Bloglovin' and get all your updates! Its among my top favorites! :-)

  3. Wash your face with mild soap and water.Do not scrub the pimples or dry your face roughly, because this causes more inflammation. Dry the skin carefully with a soft, clean towel.


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