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Acne and Sensitive Skin

5 Tips to Help You Treat Acne and Sensitive Skin

By

Updated May 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Having acne is hard enough; having acne and sensitive skin may be even harder.  Burning, stinging, redness, peeling, and overall irritation are just par for the course for those with acne and sensitive skin.  

But you can treat acne, and get good results.  You just have to pay attention to what your skin is telling you.

1. Stay Away From Harsh Scrubs

You may be tempted to scrub away at the skin, trying to banish blackheads and breakouts. Don't! Harsh scrubs can easily irritate your sensitive skin, causing redness and burning.

Treat your skin gently. Don't use abrasive exfoliants, gritty cleanser, or scrub at your skin with washcloths or coarse cleansing pads.

2. Slowly Introduce New Treatments

Until you know how your skin reacts, introduce new products slowly and carefully. You may even want to test a bit on your inner arm to check for a reaction before trying it out on your face.

Along the same line, start using acne treatments slowly as well. Sure, you're in a hurry to clear up your skin. But acne treatment products, even over-the-counter ones, can cause dryness and irritation in a hurry too.

Instead, try using your treatment products just three times per week. If your skin tolerates that well, slowly build up to using more often.

3. Don't Use Too Many Treatment Products at Once

Using an acne treatment cleanser plus a prescription treatment, along with a medicated moisturizer is probably overkill for your sensitive skin.

Stick with one treatment medication, whether OTC or prescription, to clear your acne (unless your doctor instructs otherwise, of course.) The rest of your skincare products should be non-medicated options, preferably a gentle brand made for sensitive skin types.

4. Don't Leave On Leave-On Treatments

Letting a topical treatment like Retin-A or benzoyl peroxide set on your skin all day can be too much for sensitive skin. Your skin may tolerate these treatments in shorter periods, though.

Try washing the medications off after 10, 20, or 30 minutes. As your skin builds up a tolerance to the medication, you'll probably be able to leave them on for longer periods.

5. Get Help from a Dermatologist

Treating acne itself is difficult anyway. Trying to treat acne in sensitive skin can be even tougher, because acne treatment products often cause irritation.

Instead of trying to treat acne on your own, you'll probably do best seeing a dermatologist. Your doctor can prescribe acne medications (if needed), suggest OTC treatments and skin care products, and help devise a treatment plan that will work for your acne and your sensitive skin.

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