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The Best Acne Treatment for Sensitive Skin

by
author image Shannon Marks
Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.
The Best Acne Treatment for Sensitive Skin
You need to take special precautions when treating acne and sensitive skin. Photo Credit mihalec/iStock/Getty Images

The American Academy of Dermatology explains that while millions of people have sensitive skin, there is no exact definition of what this actually entails. If you have oily skin or skin with high levels of the bacteria P. acnes that results in breakouts; a condition known as rosacea that causes facial flushing, pimples and broken blood vessels; burning and stinging of the skin; and skin allergies, you can alter your acne-treatment regimen to minimize symptoms.

Cleansing

One of the most important parts of any skin-care and acne-treatment regimen is cleansing your skin twice a day. The Acne Resource Center explains that acne-infected skin needs special handling. You should use a mild cleanser. Avoid soaps that have fragrances and dyes, since they may trigger an allergic reaction. You should also wash your skin following a workout or strenuous activity that causes you to perspire. When washing, do not scrub your skin since it can aggravate your irritation. Instead, use an oil-absorbing, microfiber cloth.

Moisturizing

The Mayo Clinic reports that moisturizers help to protect sensitive skin. One ingredient you’ll want to avoid is added fragrances. Perfumes do not just give moisturizers a pleasant odor, they also mask the smell of the ingredients used to make the product. Most likely it’s the added perfumes that causes your irritation or contact allergies. While you need to moisturize your skin daily, be sure to use a fragrance-free and dye-free product.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Even for people with healthy skin, many over-the-counter acne medications can cause irritation. Benzoyl peroxide works by drying the top layers of dermis and killing the bacteria that causes acne. For some, this topical medication can be extraordinarily drying and irritating. Benzoyl peroxide comes in three formulations, 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. Daniel Kern of Acne.org suggests starting with the lowest dose first. Only apply the medication twice a day. If your skin burns, becomes itchy or develops a rash, stop using it.

Salicylic acid slows the cells inside the hair follicle from shedding. Side effects of this medication, according to the Mayo Clinic, are stinging and irritation. You can wash your skin with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid, or use salicylic acid pads to apply the medication directly to your skin. If you find the medication intolerable, it’s best to stop using it immediately and try another medication.

Prescription Medications

You should only use a prescription acne medication if your breakouts do not respond to over-the-counter medications. Antibiotics work by killing and reducing the amount of bacteria in and around pores. Doctors typically prescribe clindamycin, erythromycin and other oral antibiotics to treat breakouts. While the side effects of this medication will not affect your skin, the Mayo Clinic indicates that it could cause increased sensitivity to the sun.

Cortisone injections are steroids made from hormones produced naturally in the body. Very rarely does cortisone cause an allergic reaction. This form of treatment is best for large nodules or cystic acne.

Considerations

When treating acne and sensitive skin, you may want to consult your physician or a skin care specialist. A dermatologist will know all the possible side effects affiliated with over-the-counter and prescription acne medication. While you may have a reaction to certain medications, you may only need to reduce the frequency of use, or use a lower dosage, rather than abandoning a very good medication altogether. You can find a skin specialist near you by using the American Academy of Dermatology’s dermatologist locator. A link is in the Resources section.

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