Just Make It Stop: What to Do When Acne Has You at Your Wit’s End

For some, acne is a problem in their teenage and early adult years. For others, it may last a lifetime. Acne is frustrating no matter your age, and sometimes it may feel like nothing is working. Recovery is possible, though. Granted, it may take a good deal of time and diligence to achieve. Here are some ways you can address your acne and start your journey to clearer skin.

1. Try Medication

Medication can be especially helpful for those who have long-term acne. Depending on your condition, it may alleviate or even eradicate your acne altogether. Retinoids, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are the three main active ingredients used in different acne meds. If you’ve tried one brand before but it didn’t help, your skin may not be receptive to that active ingredient.

Experiment with different kinds of meds to see which one works best for you. Remember that acne treatment takes time, and you may not start to see results right away. Take photos of your skin every few days to compare them as evidence.

And if you really feel like what you’re doing just isn’t working, consider getting an acne prescription. You’ll need to see a medical professional to get one, but an online doctor can give you a quick assessment. Prescription medicines are often more powerful and targeted than their alternatives. If you’ve tried everything when it comes to meds, a prescription may be necessary to improve your skin’s health.

2. Get Active

There are a few different causes of acne, from hormone imbalances to dirty, clogged pores. Medication is great for those who have chemical imbalances or just need immediate relief. But sometimes the cause of and solution for your acne may involve a lifestyle change. The key to any lifestyle change is to start small and grow it over time. That way it has a better chance of sticking.

Take a look at your weekly routine. Are you incorporating exercise or any form of brisk movement? Exercise has numerous positive benefits for your body and one of those is balancing your hormones. Incorporate even a simple 20-minute walk into your routine a few times a week and see if your skin improves. Again, this will take some time, so be patient.

The more you exercise, the better its effects. However, one mistake to avoid is not cleaning up often enough. You’ll naturally sweat when exercising, which can actually clog your pores even more than before. Just make sure to shower after every exercise session, and you’ll be fine.

3. Watch What You Eat

Another major contributing factor to your acne is your diet. Unfortunately, some of the most immediately tempting foods and drinks can be the worst for your skin. Foods that are highly processed or rich in sugars can throw off your hormone balance. The same goes for drinks, including alcohol which burdens your liver and dehydrates you. So what should you limit?

You can cut out fast food and sugary drinks, like soda and sports drinks, and alcohol. They’re almost never good for any part of your body, your skin included. What gets trickier is that added sugars are in almost everything from bread to canned soup. Understand what’s in your food by reading the labels on the back before you buy it. This is not to say you can’t ever have sweets or alcohol again — just be smart about how much.

Thankfully, there are many foods that are actually very good for your skin. Salmon and walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fats, leafy greens in vitamin E, and spinach and green tea in antioxidants. All of these help your skin in various ways, from equalizing hormones to reducing scarring from previous breakouts. Remember, it’s all about balance. Build up a foundation of healthy eating and you can enjoy the occasional treat.

4. Catch Some Z’s

Along with regular activity and clean eating, sleep is an important pillar of acne recovery and lasting health. If you aren’t already, start prioritizing sleep quality. In the modern world, there are so many distractions to keep you up at night. It may involve a change in mindset, but start to see getting sleep as a requirement, not an option.

It’s important to practice saying “no” to activities that contribute to sleep loss. You may have friends that want you to go out with them at night. Or you might be tempted to stay up to finish extra work or keep scrolling on Instagram. By prioritizing sleep as a value in your life, you’ll empower yourself to say “yes” to sleep instead. Everyone is different, but getting somewhere between six to eight hours a night is optimal for most people. Find a time range that works for you and turn off electronics an hour before bed to wind down.

Again, like with diet and exercise, this is about striking a balance — not abstaining from late nights ever again. In fact, the better you sleep regularly, the more energy you’ll have on the nights you do stay up. And your skin will be looking clearer than ever.

Combine as Necessary

There’s no one solution to acne. Medication, exercise, diet, and sleep are all individual ways of addressing your skin health. However, they work best when used in tandem. Everyone’s body is different, so it’s important to explore different options and see what works best for you. Stay diligent, and you may find your skin looking clearer than ever before.

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