Blemish Busters from Dr. Leslie Baumann

Acne Solutions

Acne solutions from dermatologist and author Leslie S. Baumann, M.D.

Internationally renowned board certified dermatologist and New York Times best‐selling author Dr. Leslie Baumann took time from her busy schedule to answer our most pressing acne questions. Here, she debunks a few common misconceptions and offers a few tips in the battle against breakouts.

1. What’s the difference between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide?
Salicylic acid helps exfoliate skin and keep pores clear, while benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne. They help improve acne in different ways and although they can be used together, I often recommend trying salicylic acid first since benzoyl peroxide can be irritating.

2. Does diet affect acne?
Preliminary research shows that dairy and sugar may increase acne. But contrary to popular belief, chocolate does not (unless it contains sugar!). Some doctors believe that the iodine in foods like shrimp may lead to acne as well.

3. How should I pop a pimple?
I try not to advocate picking, but I know sometimes you have to. First, take a hot shower to open pores. Then use a sterile needle (boil it for 2 minutes and allow it to cool) and gently prick the center of the whitehead. (Get more pimple popping tips.)

4. Does my phone cause acne?
The bacteria that cause acne (P. acnes) is not spread from person to person, and there is no evidence that cell phones harbor it.

5. We’ve been hearing about at-home blue light acne treatments. How does blue light kill acne?
P. acnes bacteria contain a substance called porphyrin that absorbs the blue wavelengths of light and kills the bacteria. Porphyrin isn’t found in other bacteria, which is why blue light doesn’t work for other skin infections. (Try blue light treatment at home with the Tria Skin Clarifying System.)

6. Can acne be attributed to hereditary?
I’m going to say probably, but the gene has not been identified yet.

7. How long does it take for acne medications to work?
It takes 8 weeks for a pimple to form, so you have to give any over-the-counter or prescription products that long to see results.

Want more healthy skincare advice? Visit and take Dr. Baumann’s Skin Type Quiz to receive weekly tips!

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