Why Aren't Over-the-Counter Products Eliminating My Acne?

Why Aren't Over-the-Counter Products Eliminating My Acne?

As the most common skin condition in the United States, acne affects millions of Americans, causing physical symptoms as well as emotional effects that can have a direct impact on your self-esteem and self-confidence. 

Not surprisingly, the high prevalence of acne means there are plenty of companies willing to promise a cure. While over-the-counter products provide a convenient option for managing acne, many of these products just don’t work as well as prescription treatments — and sometimes, they don’t work at all.

At Metroderm DC: Medical, Laser, and Aesthetic Dermatology Center, board-certified dermatologists Edward Stolar, MDTodd Perkins, MD, and Adrianna Gonzales, MD, FAAD, help patients of all ages find effective solutions for their acne symptoms. 

Here, learn why over-the-counter products fail and how we can help you find a skin care regimen that works.

Acne basics

Acne appears when hair follicles get clogged with dead skin, excess oil, and other debris, including bacteria found naturally on your skin. As it turns out, those bacteria thrive inside the warm follicles where they multiply and cause an infection.

Bacterial growth inside the follicles triggers an immune system response, attracting white blood cells and other infection-fighting agents. The result is what we see as an acne breakout: redness, swelling, and pus-filled whiteheads and pimples.

Acne tends to be more common during the teen years, but adults can have acne, too. The factors that make acne more common include hormonal changes, environmental factors, stress, and even your genes.

Why over-the-counter products fail

If you suffer from acne, it would be great if you could just go to your neighborhood drugstore or pick up a product online. While those products may provide some relief for people with very mild acne, most over-the-counter products simply aren’t effective enough to provide meaningful, long-term relief.

Over-the-counter products just aren’t as strong as prescription products. That means they can’t penetrate as deeply and can’t fight infections as effectively as prescription-strength products.

Worse, many products can wind up irritating your skin or drying it out, leading to even more oil production, more clogged follicles, and more breakouts. Cleansers, toners, and other products labeled for use on acne-prone skin can still cause problems, especially in people whose skin is also sensitive.

Finally, these products don’t take into account that acne affects different people in very different ways, and that means it responds best to a customized skin care routine using products and ingredients not available in over-the-counter products. 

Acne triggers can change over time, which means to really get the best results, you need to see a dermatologist regularly to have your routine adjusted.

Managing acne: The personal solution

Instead of reaching for over-the-counter products designed for the general population, you need a solution tailored for your skin’s specific needs. 

At Metroderm DC, we craft every skin care routine based on a deep understanding of each patient’s skin type, acne triggers, lifestyle, underlying health, and other factors for maximum effects.

Most patients benefit from a combination of products designed to address not only the symptoms of acne, but also its underlying cause. Depending on your needs, that might mean a combination of oral medications, topical gels or creams, and in-office treatments to help reduce breakouts and improve your skin’s health.

We offer an array of treatment options for all types of acne and all levels of severity. Regular office visits ensure your treatment is always optimized for your needs, so you can enjoy the best possible skin health and the clearest skin.

In addition, we provide lifestyle tips to help your skin stay healthy. That can include things like following a skin-healthy diet, using the right cleansers and moisturizers, and using sunscreen properly.

Invest in your beautiful skin

Even though it might seem like pimples pop up overnight, the underlying infection takes time to develop — and that means it can take time to fight it off, too. We understand the challenges of acne and the anatomy of skin, developing every treatment plan for maximum results.

To learn how we can help you enjoy clearer, healthier skin, call 202-659-2223 today or request an appointment online with our team at Metroderm DC in Washington, DC.

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