Frustrating, embarrassing, and often painful, acne can be minimized and even eradicated with proper treatment. At the root of all forms of acne is the p.acnes bacteria, which thrives in an environment of dirt and pore-clogging oil. Reducing excess oil and debris is key to ending the acne cycle. The next vital step is to reduce the bacteria that cause breakouts.

Board certified dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Kazin shares her advice for what works best to keep acne under control:

Salicylic and Glycolic Acid: Skin care novices might wince at the thought of applying acid to the skin, but these ingredients are mainstays in acne treatments. Salicylic acid, a type of beta hydroxy acid, fights acne by encouraging skin cells to shed. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is commonly found in over-the-counter products in concentrations as high as 2%. Glycolic, a type of alpha hydroxy acid, promotes exfoliation and is great for oily skin. It also has a rejuvenating effect, and is used at higher concentrations in line-smoothing chemical peels.

Benzoyl Peroxide: By introducing oxygen into the pores, benzoyl peroxide creates a hostile environment for p.acnes. It also causes the skin to peel, another approach to fighting acne. Benzoyl peroxide is a popular ingredient in over-the-counter as well as prescription products in concentrations up to 10%, but studies show that lower concentrations minimize side effects and are just as effective.

If your acne is severe—inflamed pimples on your face, chest, or back—you need the expertise of a board certified dermatologist. Hard, painful, deep cysts respond best to systemic drugs so over-the-counter skincare products won’t work for this form of acne lesions.


When seeking long term solutions to keep your acne and breakouts under control, Dr. Kazin suggests that you keep the following in mind for best results:

  1. Blackheads usually do best with a topical vitamin A-containing ingredient—like retinol;
  2. Consistency of products and usage will yield better results;
  3. Don’t pick or squeeze pimples please—it can lead to spreading bacteria and infection and ultimately lingering scars;
  4. Allow at least 6 weeks for any new regimen to start to work and follow directions;
  5. Keep bangs off your forehead and avoid using heavy or creamy hair products that can cause blemishes;
  6. More is not more. Don’t apply your acne fighting products more often than directed to avoid irritation.

Early treatment for acne can help you avoid acne scarring later on that is difficult to reverse.

Call to schedule an appointment with Chevy Chase, Maryland board certified dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Kazin to find out what solutions will work best for your acne.