My skin is far from ideal. Spending the first 18 years of my life in southern Florida has left me with brown spots, wrinkles, rosacea and skin cancer. Throw in menopausal acne breakouts, and some days I don’t even want to leave the house! You’d think this wouldn’t happen to me — a skin care professional — and that I’d have “the cure” for such a thing. Nope, acne plagues me like I’m 16 years old all over again.
So, what do I do for my acne? It’s actually what I try not to do — which is obliterating it from my skin. Oh, I have the power: lasers, micropens, acids and injectable steroids. You name it, I’ve got it — but that’s not the right approach and I know it.
I first rely on my prescription from my dermatologist, a nice combination of azelaic acid and niacinamide compounded together. I apply it religiously onto the affected area(s) twice a day with a moisturizer and sunblock on top.
If I have any large cystic acne (I usually get these twice a year), I’ll have it injected with a corticosteroid, which will bring it down in six to 24 hours.
If the prescription seems to be working in two to three days, I’ll only use the script in the morning and bee pollen paste at night. Bee pollen helps with a variety of things, but I’m using it for its antibacterial and hydrating properties. It feels wonderful on the skin — but I have to remember to tie my hair back or risk waking with it stuck to my face in the morning.
If, in two to three days, the prescription isn’t working, I’ll treat myself to an intense pulsed light treatment. IPLs are really the gold standard for removing brown spots, superficial vessels and (surprise!) acne. One pulse on the acne is usually all you need, and it should be greatly reduced in 24-48 hours.
Blue LED lights are great as well. I have one for home use and if I’m not going into the office, I’ll run the LED over my acne. Easy to use and handy to have, LEDs also come in red for aging skin and are easily purchased for home use.
If my acne isn’t responding and has my rosacea as a team player, I’ll reach for a radio frequency machine. In the past, I would have never treated acne with radio frequency — however, there is a strong movement pointing to its success. My personal favorite is the Sublative RF by Syneron. It shuts down moderate to severe rosacea/acne on my skin in less than 48 hours. Yes, it’s hard to tell what’s what with my skin red, irritated and covered in dots, but the nodules and soreness are gone in eight to 16 hours. Once the redness subsides, I start to look like my old self again — plus my pores are smaller and my skin is a bit tighter, yay!
I know that I’m lucky in that I have access to these things: radio frequency, corticosteroids and a dermatologist who can relate. However, having just a few key things can help anyone.
1. A good dermatologist. Find one who is willing to work with you to find something that works.
2. A good skin care routine. Usually one that incorporates benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. This is half the battle.
3. Look for natural solutions. Bee pollen and emu oil work quite well on acne.
4. Research blue LED lights for home use. They work if you are patient and consistent with using them, and they’re affordable.
5. Whatever you do, don’t pick! Picking at acne is the perfect way to end up with a bigger infection that might require antibiotics and possibly scarring.