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9 Reasons Why Your Acne Treatment is Not Working

Understanding Why Your Acne Treatment Is Not Working

By understanding why our acne treatment is not working, we will be able to change that and solve our acne issues. Acne is a common skin problem, seen mostly during puberty and adolescence. In fact, 88% of Singaporean teenagers suffer from acne, with at least half of them suffering from moderate to severe acne. While the prevalence of acne is more common amongst the teen population, it can also affect adults aged 20 and above.

There are several over-the-counter treatments that target acne for all age groups. However, acne treatment do not work the same for every individual. Some may find their acne worsening after treatment, while some may see no significant improvement in their skin. But, this is less to do with an inherent resistance to acne treatment, and more to do with inappropriate treatment. 

If your acne treatment is not producing results, it can be due to several reasons. Below is a list of the top 9 causes of failed acne treatment.

#1 Expecting instant results

More often than not, when someone starts a skincare routine, they expect instant results. Acne treatments need at least 4 to 6 weeks for noticeable improvement. During this period, it is common to experience an increase in acne as the treatment clears your skin from the inside. Patience is key when it comes to skincare, especially in acne treatments. 

Depending on the type of acne treatment, it is normal to wait up to 3 months before experiencing clear skin after starting a specific acne treatment. Waiting this long may seem unbearable for many people. Some may mistake this as an indicator of ineffective treatment, but this is far from the truth. 

With acne treatment, both patience and the right treatment are equally important. So, stick to the regimen prescribed by your aesthetic doctor, and you may soon have the clear skin you desire.

Acne affects the skin, but it develops as a result of multiple factors such as an unhealthy diet, increased stress, dehydration, lack of proper sleep and rest, and poor skincare hygiene.

In combination with skin treatments, it is important to make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent further breakouts. Eat healthy foods while avoiding greasy food, drinking enough water, and sleeping 7 to 9 hours daily. Exercise can also help improve your overall skin health. These steps allow the skin to flourish and the acne to clear out and improve your overall health.

#3 Targeting only active acne

Acne treatment that only targets active lesions is much more common than you might think. In other words, it makes sense only to deal with a problem when it arises; otherwise, as they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". 

However, this advice does not work with acne. Applying spot treatment when a zit forms or a pimple has fully appeared on the skin only reduces inflammation and the acne's size. For instance, topical treatments will target and treat that specific acne but won't help prevent further breakouts, which is what needs to be done. 

An effective acne treatment targets the root of the problem. Not only does it clear active lesions, but it also reduces overactive sebaceous glands, destroys hair follicles and bacteria that cause acne. There are many different types of acne treatments, ranging from topical, oral, chemical peels, lasers to energy-based devices. To learn about the different types of treatment that are right for you, schedule a consultation with your doctor.


#4 Unclean skin

Most acne treatments and medications work by penetrating the pores to work on all layers of skin effectively. For these treatments to target the different layers of the skin, it is important to have a clean skin base before applying anything to the face. 

A gentle or exfoliating foam or gel cleanser is recommended as the first step of a good and healthy skincare routine. It cleans the face off any impurities such as environmental pollutants and the remaining contaminants with the right facial cleanser or toner. Then, the skin is ready for acne treatment. 

It is also essential to remove makeup before using a cleanser, preferably with a makeup remover and not just a makeup removing wipe. Makeup removal wipes do not clean the skin thoroughly. Leftover makeup on the skin clogs the pores further and prevents treatment from penetrating the skin properly, hindering the results. 

#5 Clogged pores

Pores can get clogged by dead skin cells, irritants, and makeup. Suppose you are not using an exfoliator at least twice a week. In that case, it will allow dead skin to build up and potentially lead to dullness, clogged pores, and rough texture, which prevents any acne treatment from penetrating into the skin. Gentle exfoliation is vital to avoid clogged pores. However, it is also important to note that excessive exfoliation, especially acne-prone skin, can further irritate the skin and worsen the acne. 


#6 Overusing skincare products

Depending on how well your skin adapts to the treatment, skincare products can either make or break your skin. It is important to use products that are suitable for your skin type, whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin. Using products that are not suitable for your skin type can irritate it.

Acne is caused by excessive production of oil from your oil glands, clogging your pores and causing bacterial growth. Many people, when they start to break out panic, and apply several different products. However, excessive treatment can adversely affect the skin's health and appearance. 

Using too many skincare ingredients may also lead to skin irritation and more breakouts. Using as few products as possible under the guidance of an experienced doctor is the best thing that you can do for your skin. Furthermore, choosing quality ingredients over quantity can give a better result, as the saying goes, "Less is More".

Consult your aesthetic physician if you have questions about the best skin care regimen for your skin type. Alternatively, you can also check out the ingredients at the back of the packaging when you shop. Look out for ingredients containing:

  • Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is available in many over-the-counter skincare products. It works by affecting the way skin cells grow and can also help prevent clogged pores. This product is available in strengths from 0.5 to 5 percent. Individuals may experience possible side effects such as mild stinging or skin irritation. It is important to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully to prevent worsening your skin.

  • Benzoyl peroxide

This treatment comes in the form of gels or lotion. This ingredient helps to unclog pores, dry out active acne, and kill bacteria. It can also prevent new acne from forming. Using benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid together is a foundation for acne treatment.

#7 Not moisturising enough

The skin becomes sensitive and prone to inflammation, dryness, and even irritation when suffering from acne. It is important to treat acne-prone skin gently to avoid further exaggeration of acne. Many people believe that applying moisturisers can worsen acne, but this is far from the truth. 

As skin functions as a barrier to harmful external agents, any disruptions in the skin barrier can make your skin more prone to infections and breakouts. Moisturising your skin ensures that your skin is hydrated and intact. Not moisturizing your skin, especially for those with dry skin, can worsen acne and decrease the efficiency with which acne treatments work.

#8 The treatment may just not be working for you

With so many beauty salons and skin clinics out there, with each claiming to have the cure to all of your acne problems, it can be confusing to choose the right place to treat your acne. Many choose to visit a salon instead of a clinic because of markedly lower prices.

Unlike aesthetic physicians in a skin clinic who have years of medical training, salons are usually not regulated. Most salons are not equipped with the proper products or tools to provide effective treatments. On the other hand, medical clinics always recommend a stepwise acne treatment with a goal of complete remission. Certified doctors approach acne with combination therapy using medical-grade products, medications and FDA-approved medical devices.   

For complete long-term remission and control of acne, it is best to not be misled by false advertising and discount prices. Make sure you do your research, choose the right clinic, and the best treatment.

#9 Picking at your acne

Picking at your acne is one of the worst habits that many with acne have. This habit can introduce more bacteria into the lesion, spread the bacteria from the lesion to other areas, and further worsen your acne.

In addition to the risk of exposing your skin to foreign pathogens, physical skin irritation can increase your risk of developing disfiguring acne scars. 

If your skin is covered with blackheads, whiteheads, or inflamed acne, it is best to get it extracted by a medical therapist rather than picking on it yourself. This will prevent your acne from getting worse and may even help minimise acne scarring or post acne marks that would otherwise result from picking the acne yourself. 

Things to try when your acne treatment is not working

When your acne treatment does not work, despite you following all the recommendations and not doing any of the things mentioned above, it is most probably because the acne treatment is not suitable for you or the treatment in itself is not effective for acne in general.

This issue is not commonly faced when you visit a certified and experienced skincare doctor. In any case, if you believe your skin is not improving even after 4 to 6 weeks of acne treatment, you should consult with your doctor about changing your acne treatment.

Chemical peels and facials can help treat acne by deep-cleaning the skin and unclogging the pores so that treatments can improve all layers of the skin. Different ingredients of these facials and peels are suitable for different skin types. 

Both salons and aesthetic clinics offer a wide selection of chemical peels. However, salons cannot perform medium depth chemical peels that physicians can due to the intensity of the peel. This is a good safety measure as the regulations and standards are much stricter for physician clinics than salons. 

Another method of treating acne includes laser therapy and radiofrequency microneedling. Both of which have been found to reduce the frequency of breakouts and severity of acne breakouts. Moreover, these options can also be effective in minimizing the appearance of acne scars and can also improve other aesthetic issues such as wrinkles, acne marks, and dull or oily skin.