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The Best Acne Treatments for Sensitive Skin

The Best Acne Treatments for Sensitive Skin The Best Acne Treatments for Sensitive Skin

Acne affects both children and adults and can be brought on by a number of factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, stress and poor hygiene. There are many over-the-counter and prescription treatments for acne, but some can make matters worse if they're too strong for your skin type. People with sensitive skin should proceed slowly to see how their skin reacts.


If you have sensitive skin, it's especially important to treat it carefully. Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, recommends cleansing with a mild, non-drying soap, such as Dove, Neutrogena or Basics. Use warm water and pat your skin gently to dry. It's important to wash your face once or twice a day and make sure you remove all dirt and make-up. But don't overdo it. Medline Plus warns against any excessive washing. Try to keep your hands off your face and look for cosmetics and creams that say "non-comedogenic" on the label. That means they won't clog pores and contribute to acne.

Topical Medications

If cleansing alone doesn't clear up the acne problem, Medline Plus suggests trying over-the-counter creams aimed at controlling acne. The Mayo Clinic says topical treatments are designed to dry up skin oils, kill bacteria or slough away dead skin cells. Look for active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a mild treatment that may help sensitive skin by sloughing dead skin cells. Benzoyl peroxide attacks the bacteria that causes acne, but the Cleveland Clinic warns that irritation and dryness are common side effects. Acne products are available with different concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, so those with sensitive skin should start with the least amount to see how the skin responds. If over-the-counter medications don't do the trick, see a dermatologist who can recommend prescription strength benzoyl peroxide and antibiotic combinations. A doctor might also prescribe creams with ingredients such as tretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene. The Mayo Clinic says they work by promoting cell turnover and keeping hair follicles from becoming plugged.

Oral Medications

The next step in treatment may be to combine an oral medication with the topical treatment. Doctors can prescribe oral antibiotics such as tetracycline to control the surface bacteria that can trigger a breakout. For very severe cases, isotretinoin may recommended. The Mayo Clinic says the medication is very effective but can cause a host of side effects and has been associated with birth defects. It cannot be taken by those who are pregnant or may become pregnant within several weeks of the treatment. Oral contraceptives are prescribed for some women to control acne, but these may carry side effects, too.

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