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Severe Acne on the Face

Severe Acne on the Face Severe Acne on the Face Severe Acne on the Face


All forms of acne can take place on facial skin. Some forms are moderate, while others are severe. In fact, some forms of acne are so severe that the lesions can cause scarring. The American Dermatologist Association reports that approximately 20 million Americans have severe-enough acne to cause scarring.


The Mayo Clinic classifies acne into five different categories, ranging from mild to severe. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most severe types of acne are nodules and cysts. Both form deep under the skin and are very large, solid bumps. The boil-like cysts often result in scarring. Of course, this is not to say that this is the only type of severe acne. Severe cases of acne include very inflamed, red pimples that form all over the face and are very difficult to treat.


The most common causes of all acne, according to the Mayo Clinic, is when pores become clogged and hair follicles become inflamed or infected. A variety of substances can cause clogged pores, such as dirt, bacteria, dead skin cells and even cosmetics or sunscreens. Skin irritation can also cause acne, according to the Mayo Clinic. At times, environmental factors, such as humidity can cause acne. In humid conditions, most people sweat. That sweat can trap bacteria, dirt and oil, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Over-the-counter treatments seem to be the most popular solution, according to the American Dermatologist Association. Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids are recommended by the Mayo Clinic to treat acne. However, benzoyl peroxide specifically targets acne caused by bacteria and helps clear clogged pores, according to the Mayo Clinic. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that antibiotics are sometimes the solution to curing acne, if the acne is caused by a bacterial infection and over-the-counter products do not properly treat acne. In some instances, your blood may produce bacteria, which would warrant the use of oral antibiotics. Topical antibiotics are used to treat skin related bacteria that over-the-counter products cannot effectively treat.


Some over-the-counter products, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and sulfur, may cause dry skin. To remedy this side effect, you can either discontinue the use of that particular product, lower the strength you are using or use a moisturizer to restore hydration in your skin. Topical and oral antibiotics can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as upset stomach, vomiting and nausea, according to the AAFP. Whether you are using over-the-counter products or a prescription strength medication, if your side effects are severe enough, contact your health care provider.

Time Frame

Eight weeks is what the AAFP and Mayo Clinic recommend for over-the-counter acne products. The Mayo Clinic advises that if, after two months of use your acne does not clear, you may need to seek professional help. If you are using an antibiotic, the AAFP states that you may notice improvement of your acne in as little as two weeks, although you may take the medication for up to six months.

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