Acne affects between 40 to 50 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. But just because your acne puts you in good company, doesn't mean you have to like your situation. If your blemishes bum you out, there are many products that can clear your complexion in anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months. Stick to a specialized cleansing routine, and use the right topical or oral medication, and you can usually banish your blemishes within two weeks.
While all acne is linked to hormones, stress and genetics, comedonal acne is the quickest to clear. Made up of blackheads and whiteheads, comedonal acne happens when a pore gets clogged with dirt, oil and bacteria, and either stays open (black) or closes (white). You can successfully clear comedonal acne with over-the-counter products featuring benzoyl peroxide, salicylic and azelaic acid, and topical retinoids. However, your routine must include an acne-fighting facial wash, toner, oil-free moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen, and spot treatment. When you use these products twice a day, your pimples may diminish within a day or two of appearing.
Settling Into Cystic
Cystic acne develops deeper into the skin when those same clogged pores get irritated and turn into a cyst or nodule. A board-certified dermatologist can clear up this form of acne with a cortisone shot into the pimple or some laser and light therapy. While it's still important to keep a regimented, twice-a-day skin-care routine of acne-fighting wash, toner and moisturizer, you'll also need some prescription-strength medications. Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial topical medication -- such as dapsone, antibiotics and oral medications that feature isotretinoin -- are highly effective in keeping cystic blemishes at bay and in wiping them out within days of their first appearances.
Helping At Home
Help your acne clear within two weeks by adding in some additional at-home help. Ice is an excellent anti-inflammatory that can reduce the life of a pimple and help redness. Wrap ice in a wash cloth and apply to your freshly cleaned blemishes for one minute. Remove for five minutes and then repeat. In addition, shower steam is very effective in bringing blemishes to the surface quickly, softening the skin around the pimple and opening pores. In conjunction with the steam, use a stainless-steel extractor on the blackhead or pimple to release the trapped dirt, oil and bacteria. If you follow up with a benzoyl-peroxide spot treatment, you'll may see the inflammation clear within a day or two.
Dissecting Your Diet
What you eat can help clear your acne. According to a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," a low-glycemic diet may help your acne dissipate quicker. Try cutting out foods that raise your blood-sugar level, and feast on fish or other foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, beans and flax seed oil. Drink about six glasses of liquid a day to keep your skin hydrated, and eat a varied amount of vegetables -- especially green leafy ones -- that are rich in antioxidants. According to California-based health and lifestyle coach Judd Handler, the properties in apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, zinc and B vitamins can all aid in healing acne.
- American Academy of Dermatology: Acne
- American Academy of Dermatology: Different Kinds of Pimples
- American Family Physician: Topical Therapy for Acne
- The New York Times: When 'Younger' Skin Is Not a Blessing
- DERMAdoctor: Ice: The Secret Pimple Fighter
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Mother Nature Network: Clear Skin Diet: Foods That Bring Acne Relief