Peace For All

August 7, 2006

Treating Your Acne Part 2: An Overview of Topical Solutions

Filed under: acne, health — Devlin Bentley @ 4:07 pm

This entry provides a brief overview of how topical acne treatments work.

There are two ways to directly treat acne:  antibiotics to kill acne bacteria, or topical chemical solutions.

Because acne is actually present on everyone’s face normally there is no chance of “curing” it (with a few exceptions), so antibiotics have to be continuously used until you outgrow acne.  Since Long term antibiotic usage can have nasty side effects, many people are just not comfortable using antibiotics for acne.  Because of this, topical chemical solutions are by the most commonly chosen acne treatment.

The next obvious question is: how do topical solutions work? Well, they work by using one or more of the following chemicals: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or the bactericidal chemical benzoyl peroxide.

As mentioned previously, acne is caused by the overactive growth of a bacterium that is very common and exists on everybody’s face. Topical treatments for acne tend to deal with removing oil, reducing the clogging effects that oil has on your pours, or killing the acne bacteria. Salicylic and glycolic acid work to unclog your pours and are often combined with other chemicals that help to remove excess facial oil, effectively giving the acne bacteria less “food” to eat off of. Benzoyl peroxide treatments focus on killing the bacteria directly.

If you have mild acne, either one of the two above approaches may work, but for more serious forms of acne, you really need to treat all three sources (oil, clogged pours, and the bacteria) at the same time. That is the topic of discussion for a future entry about Proactive Solution.


  1. I began to see results within the first three weeks. My face was not completely clear, but I noticed that acne was getting better.

    You may not have a complete clear face after three weeks, but you should see improvement. Also depends what type of skin you have too, some skins may take longer, some really fast, and some just over a a year.

    Comment by Rosia — August 8, 2006 @ 11:47 pm

  2. I wish I could find something besides antibiotics that would work for my daughter. She tried ProActive but irritated her skin and didn’t really work that well. Maybe I’m wrong but I think we are all “over-antibiotic’d”
    I may even look at some of the natural and not-so-traditional treatments. Some are listed at
    Hype? Well, if it works for some people why not?
    Anybody tried some of the natural treatments that work?

    Comment by Robert Portwood — August 9, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  3. Proactive can irritate your skin at first, almost all the topical treatments do. One thing I used to do was scrub really hard.

    NEVER scrub too hard! I am going to do some rewrites and make a new post just about how to properly treat your face.

    Antibiotics are a short term solution only. The acne will become resistent to it eventually, this is a known problem and there isn’t really much solution. Good news is she will likely outgrow Acne before this happens to her, I have had acne for roughly ten years now so…

    Natural solutions are interesting, and I explain in my first posting how to go about and find out what sort of diet changes can help. The main problem becomes that there are so many different potential causes of acne, that figuring out exactly what treatment, or combination of treatments, is needed can be quite confusing.

    It is very likely that hormon’s (which are natural!) would help your

    Oddly enough, light therapy does work. More information is at

    A good review of the book is towards the end at this thread

    Basically what that site talks about it just a standard de-tox. Avoiding foods high in sugar that are highly refined, or cooked in oil, will have much the same effect.

    If your daugther is mentally stable, Accutane is supposed to work really well. Of course I am sure you have heard of the side effects from it…

    Comment by com2kid — August 9, 2006 @ 10:49 pm

  4. Why do teenagers get acne and how can you treat it. Besides with proactive.

    Your Friend,
    Julia Marie Heatherly

    Comment by Julia Heatherly — September 22, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  5. i Julia,

    Acne is caused by overactive growth of a bacteria that is actually all over the place. Basically a teenager’s body undergoes a ton of changes (obviously!!) some of which can have nasty side effects. Everything from growth pains, stretch marks, to acne and a million other problems.

    In specific, acne is caused because the body produces way to much oil, pores get clogged, and the bacteria eat up the oil. This normally wouldn’t be too bad, since it happens on everyone’s face, but teenagers also go through a number of other changes that make their facial pores easily clogged, which means the bacteria gets stuck in there, and white/black heads result.

    The single most important thing to do is NEVER TO PICK at acne. If I hadn’t popped my white heads when I first had acne, my face would literally be completely clear by now! Each time a white head gets popped, the pore gets bigger, making it easier for bacteria to grow in it.

    Proactive is good because amongst other things it helps to shrink pores back down to a reasonable size.

    There are a number of ways to treat acne, ranging from REALLY expensive (you can get your entire face sand-blasted, and pores cleared out, only around $2000! Works WONDERFULLY though, if I ever save up the money….), to prescription meds (Acutane has about a 90% chance of permanently curing acne after 6 months of use), to over the counter (pro-active, a number of other cheaper products), to free (watching what you eat).

    If money is a concern, my main tips are as follows:

    * Shower every day. Every day. Wash hair completely and really well, lots of suds and bubbles. Use baby shampoo . It is oil free and typically PH balanced (meaning it is not acidic or alkaline, basically it won’t irritate skin!)
    * One or twice a day rinse face off with water and pat dry.
    * AVOID UNHEALTHY FOODS. I mean it. The processed refined garbage that is sold cheap on store shelves is NOT good for anyone. As I posted in a recent blog entry, I ate oatmeal at my work place’s cafeteria and had a horrible reaction to it. It was cheap oat meal and I have no doubt that it had lots of cheap ingredients in it!
    * Eat lots of fibre. Fibre is good for you. 🙂 Helps with lots of other problems as well. 😀

    These don’t have to be expensive. Indeed, for breakfast just skip the sugary sweet cereals (unfortunately ones with berry preserves in them also cause a nasty reaction in both my GF and myself!)

    I have also noticed that the cheap store brand yogart gives me white heads, albeit not as badly as other products do. Sad, as I love yogurt!

    Drink lots of water. In the worst case this won’t help the acne, but will result in a lot more energy each day!

    Yah I know it all sounds kind of cliche, but people rarely do any of it, so it is worth repeating.

    Another thing is, refined sugars cause a lot of problems. Cultures that consume less refined sugar also have less problems with Acne. Surprise surprise. Refined sugars are things like corn syrup. Did you know that they put corn syrup in bread? … think about that for a minute, it means that there is sugar in your turkey sandwich! Buying things like bread that don’t have corn syrup in them also has another plus: Less calories! 🙂

    The other key is not to irritate the face. If washing in the morning, use a light glycerin based soap (glycerin soaps are the one’s that are not antibacterial, but rather the old fashion bar soap types that are sort of clear), if possible one that is unscented (or at least not heavily scented), and use a little bit of watered down witch hazel on a cotton pad afterwards to help remove excess oil.

    A bit of a weak moisturizer after that actually HELPS, oddly enough, because the body won’t produce as much facial oil if the face is already moisturized! Many people try to dry out their skin as much as they can when they have acne, heck I tried that too, but it doesn’t work.

    If oily hair is a problem, wash it again at night. Err, no one really has time for that though…

    The good news is that most people out grow acne, but some like me have it forever!

    Oh also, if female, hormone pills can help, or make acne worse. I’m sure you have seen those TV ads for birth control pills that also help with Acne. I know women for whom birth control pills clear up acne completely, and other women for whom it makes acne many times worse. And of course it can vary based upon which brand of birth control pills are used!

    Antibiotics also help a lot of people, and health insurance often pays for them. Of course they are so cheap ($5-$10 a month) that they are really not that much of a financial burden.

    Hope I helped. Sorry for the stream of thought message, if you have any more questions email them back, and I’ll try to answer them a bit more coherently. 🙂

    Comment by Devlin Bentley — September 25, 2006 @ 8:56 am

  6. Hi,
    why there are a lot of spam?
    Where is admin?

    Comment by holmes — June 11, 2007 @ 1:12 am

  7. I am still around, just busy with life! New job soon, graduation, etc. 🙂

    Comment by Devlin Bentley — June 11, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

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