Treating acne can be a confusing process, especially when you start using a new acne treatment. It's hard not to wonder whether you're using the product right, how to adapt the product to your sensitive skin, or if you're experiencing "normal" side-effects vs. being minutes away from having a very red and blotchy face. Read on to learn how to approach using a new acne treatment and what to expect once you start using it.
Do a patch test
Before you begin using a new acne treatment, it's essential to do a patch test, especially if you have sensitive skin. Apply a small amount to a discreet spot around your face, like behind your ear or under your jawline. Keep an eye on the area for about 24 hours to see if any redness, bumps, or irritation occurs. If there are no signs of irritation, then continue using the treatment as recommended.
If redness or irritation occurs, decrease the application of the product to once a day or every other day. You can also apply the acne treatment to affected areas, leave it on for a minute, then rinse it off with a gentle cleanser. As your skin becomes used to the product, gradually begin to leave the treatment on and increase the application to the recommended use. If your skin has an extreme reaction to the product (trust us, you will know if this happens to you!), then it's likely you are allergic to the product and should discontinue use.
Set realistic expectations
It takes time for acne to develop and reach the surface of your skin. The breakouts you currently are experiencing have been developing for a few weeks before you even saw those beauties pop out. When starting a new treatment, you will not only be treating your current breakouts but also breakouts that are in the works under the skin.
Some people will see results after a few days or weeks, but most people will not see noticeable results for up to 8-12 weeks, with consistent treatment use. Don't be discouraged by this timeline, though! During the treatment process, you will notice that your pimples are getting smaller in size and healing faster, which is an excellent sign that clearer days are ahead. After 2-3 months of use, you may also notice an overall improvement in your skin oiliness, tone, and texture, and even see old acne scars slowly fade away.
Be familiar with common side-effects
Since many acne medications reduce oil production, exfoliate the skin's surface to unclog pores, and kill acne-causing bacteria, it's common also to experience some side effects. The most common side-effects are flakiness, redness, or peeling, and they usually happen during the first few weeks of treatment as your skin is adapting to the new product.
After a few weeks, though, your skin should become used to the treatment, and these side-effects will subside. Follow the application of your acne treatment with a hydrating, non-comedogenic moisturizer to help alleviate these symptoms.
It's also possible that you will experience skin purging where your breakouts get a little (or sometimes a lot) worse before they get better, especially with acid-based acne treatments. When your skin goes through a purge, it quickly brings out all the gunk clogging your pores, making your breakouts even worse. Check out our past blog to see if your skin is experiencing a purge and, if so, how to deal with it.
We know it's hard to stick with a treatment when it can take a few weeks to see a noticeable improvement. We recommend downloading the Dermala Acne Tracker app and taking a selfie weekly during your treatment journey. This will allow you to compare your pictures and see the progress you are having with your acne treatment.
Remember, when starting a new acne treatment, it's crucial to test it out, take it slow, and give your skin time to get used to it gradually. It's a journey of ups and downs, but definitely worth the wait!