7 Reasons Your Acne Might Not Be Going Away

June 02, 2020
Sarah Ferguson
By: Sarah Ferguson | skincare.com by L'Oréal
7 Reasons Your Acne Might Not Be Going Away

More frustrating than getting acne is not being able to get rid of it. With so many products available, zapping zits should be easy, right? Unfortunately finding a treatment for your pimples can require trial and error and patience. If you’re skin’s appearance is not making progress, the first step is to understand why your current  products may not be delivering the results you want. Here, we consulted with three skin experts to share some possible explanations why your acne may not be going away. 

Possibility #1: You’re not giving a product enough time to work. 

When you have a glaring zit, you want it to disappear as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, breakouts can take some time to get under control. “When I recommend acne products, I educate patients that it will take about two to three months to see any effect,” says Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “As further supportive evidence, clinical studies of topical acne medications often use the 12-week mark as the point at which to assess the efficacy of the study medicine.”

Possibility #2: You’re not using your acne medication consistently.

“There is no cure for acne. Because of this, medications need to be used on a regular basis,

or else acne will eventually recur,” says Dr. Camp. Even when   breakouts have cleared, continued use of the medication can help you get ahead of future blemishes to keep your skin clear. 

Possibility #3: You’re over-drying your skin.

After using a drying spot treatment, your breakouts may appear minimized, but the infection could still be lurking under the surface of the skin. “It’s important to understand that the infection wants to come out,” says

Possibility #4: You’re following a “more is more” philosophy.

Acne-fighting ingredients can be irritating and damaging to the skin if used too frequently or if too many products are being used in tandem. “Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids are acne workhorses, but each can trigger irritant contact dermatitis,” says Dr. Camp. You don’t want to trade your acne for another uncomfortable skin concern. Consult with your dermatologist to determine a regimen that’s right for your skin to avoid overdoing it.

Possibility #5: Your acne isn’t actually acne. 

According to Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Episciences, perioral dermatitis or folliculitis are two skin conditions that are commonly confused for acne. “Additionally, 30% of acne patients can become secondarily infected with other bacteria or yeasts,” he says. If your acne treatments aren’t working after using them as directed, consult with your dermatologist to determine if you may be dealing with another skin condition.

Possibility #6: Your diet is contributing to flare-ups.

A high-glycemic index diet, i.e., a diet heavy in processed foods, rice, bread and potatoes, can contribute to acne, says Dr. Camp. This is because these foods can “stimulate the production of hormones that can cause increased oil production and acne bumps,” he says. 

Dairy is also known to trigger cystic acne. “If you have breakouts, especially around your chin and jawline, cutting out dairy is certainly worth a try,” says Rouleau.

Possibility #7: You're not washing your pillowcases or makeup brushes often enough.


“Skin oils, bacteria, sweat, saliva and the residue of skin-care products applied the night before accumulate on your pillowcase and can potentially clog pores or irritate skin,” says Dr. Camp. He also notes that dirty makeup brushes and tools could be contributing to acne. To help avoid this, wash both pillowcases and makeup tools once a week or more frequently as needed. 

Read More:

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