Step 1. Switch to a Low Glycemic Index Diet
Low glycemic index diets help reduce acne9 by supporting lower blood sugar levels, which in turn keeps metabolic hormones like insulin and IGF-1 in check. You should avoid refined and processed foods such as soda, biscuits, bread, pasta, and sweets. Any grain products that have been processed, refined, or milled have a high glycemic index. This means that they are rapidly broken down into sugars and absorbed, causing spikes in blood sugar levels. When this happens, your body produces insulin and insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is correlated with the development of acne.10
How Does a Low-Glycemic Diet Help with Acne?
Based on the underlying mechanism it certainly seems so. In fact, one 12-week study compared a low glycemic load (LGL) with a high glycemic load (HGL) diet for acne and found that total number of acne lesions decreased LGL group than the HGL group (a decrease of 21.9 lesions versus an increase of 13.8). Fasting insulin decreased in the LGL and increased in the HGL group (-0.9 versus +1.96 microU/L). Other levels that contribute to acne also improved. IGF-1 levels in LGL group decreased by 2.93 compared to a decrease of 2.79 in controls. The LGL group also exhibited weight loss of 2.9 kg versus a gain of 0.4 kg in the HGL group. This single study shows very promising results for people wondering how to get rid of acne fast through diet. Unfortunately, there have not been many follow-up studies.
Modern diets that have a low-glycemic index include the ketogenic diet, low-carb diet, and paleo diet.
2. Avoid Foods that Cause Acne:
As we’ve previous discussed diet and acne are strongly related.11 Certain foods can and do make you more prone to breakouts. Avoid the following culprits:
- Refined carbs such as white bread, cake, white rice, and refined grains, all of which cause insulin levels to spike.
- Fried and greasy foods are also terrible for your skin as they contain pro-inflammatory omega-6 oils.
- Dairy foods are other culprits. This is possible because, coming from pregnant cows, milk contains a high level of hormones that increase the production of sebum.12
- Alcohol is loaded with carbohydrates and alcohol itself is inflammatory.
3: Exercise for Acne Treatment
Exercise is an important part of managing acne. Aim for exercising for around 30-40 minutes per day. Not only will it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will also lower your stress levels and reduce your acne flare-ups. It increases circulation to the skin and opens pores, and gets sweat and sebum glands flowing. Exercise also reduces blood sugar levels and helps fight insulin resistance which is correlated with acne, especially in women with PCOS.25
4. Practice Good Hygiene and Stick to a Regular Acne Regimen
Good hygiene practices are vital for beating acne. Here are a few hygiene tips for daily acne treatment:
Use a nightly facial cleanser. You shouldn’t wash. Over washing can make your skin dry, and washing too much can also strip your face of its natural moisture, which will cause your body to produce more oil, so keep washing to a maximum of once per day. Every time you wash your face with soap, be sure to restore moisture using a non-comedogenic (non pimple forming) moisturizer.
Note: Avoid the use of harsh scrubs or cleansers which contain exfoliants such as apricot or almond shell. These can irritate the skin and increase inflammation. If the only cleanser that agrees with your skin contains abrasives then use minimal force when applying the cleanser.
Moisturize your face after washing. Moisturizing is a very important part of acne management because when properly moisturized, your skin will loosen up the oil that has built up inside your pores. You should not use the same moisturizer that you use on your body for your face. Finding a suitable moisturizer for acne prone skin can be tricky. Most importantly, make sure that the moisturizer you use is non-comedogenic FOR YOU. To prevent skin irritation, moisturizers should be oil free and fragrance-free.
Use a spot treatment. Spot treatments for acne may have one or a combination the following ingredients:
- Start with benzoyl peroxide - Benzoyl peroxide kills the P acnes bacteria that causes acne. Keep your benzoyl peroxide at a concentration of 2.5% as high concentrations are not necessarily more effective and can irritate the skin.
- Salicylic acid (SA) - Salicyclic acid gets rid of dead skin cells that are clogging pores and helps promote cell turnover.
- Niacinamide - Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin than can be applied topically. It has potent anti-inflammatory effects.30
- Azelaic Acid - Azelaic acid penetrates the skin’s pores and kills acne-causing P acnes bacteria.
- Retinol and Retinoids - If the above spot treatments aren't working for you it may be time to step up to a stronger medication consisting of 2.5% retinol or one of its derivatives that are available over-the-counter such as adapalene 0.1%
NOTE: Sunscreen: You should use a sunscreen at all times when you are going outdoors, especially when you are using spot treatments. Your sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30 and should be applied first thing in the morning and then reapplied as needed. The main reason for this is that some skin care products which you may be using for your acne (such as salicylic acid and especially retinoids) can actually make you more vulnerable to sunburn. If you’re using a physical sunscreen, look for products which contain titanium and zinc as they won’t irritate your acne.
Step 5. Avoid These Bad Habits to Get Rid of Acne
Avoid the following to minimize acne breakouts:
- Avoid unproven folk remedies such as lemons, baking soda, or toothpaste as they may irritate your skin even more.
- Avoid sleeping on dirty pillows and using dirty towels. Regularly washing your facecloths, towels, pillowcases, and sheets will help to prevent the spread of acne-causing dirt and bacteria.
- Avoid cleansers with scrubs and microbeads as they will increase inflammation and irritation of your skin. If your skin can only tolerate these cleansers then we recommend applying them as gently as possible to avoid irritating your skin.
- Avoid products containing alcohol as these dry out your skin and will also increase irritation.
- Avoid acne spot treatment that contain high concentrations (>2.5%) of benzoyl peroxide or >2.5% retinol which can worsen acne by drying and irritating the skin.
Avoid popping pimples. Avoid the temptation to pop your pimples no matter how great it may feel at first. Furthermore, people who pop their pimples tend to have repeat acne outbreaks in the same areas. If you’re tempted to pop, then use hydrocolloid dressings instead. They will prevent you from popping your pimples and draw out the excess sebum overnight. Squeezing you acne lesions can have the following negative results:
- increased inflammation
- scabs on your skin
- discoloration of your skin
- Avoid touching your face. Avoid touching your face as this can spread P acnes – the bacteria which causes acne – and cause it to get trapped inside your pores. Again, we must emphasize how important it is to avoid touching your face. Touching your face will introduce and push the bacteria farther into the skin.
Best Acne Treatments
The best treatment practice you can use to manage acne involves a combination of making healthy lifestyle changes, maintaining a balanced diet, taking care of your skin, minimizing stress, and getting sufficient sleep.
This guide to getting rid of pimples should help you manage acne, reduce outbreaks and prevent scarring. As you can see, acne treatment is not as complicated as it may have seemed at first. What is important is that you remain dedicated to a regular skin routine and you treat the condition from the inside and the outside. If you’re looking for a reliable solution for acne, check out DrFormulas® acne treatments which includes all-natural acne treatment pills, acne patches, and retinol gel.
- Kaymak, Yeşim, and M. Önder. "An investigation of efficacy of topical niacinamide for the treatment of mild and moderate acne vulgaris." J Turk Acad Dermatol 2.4 (2008): jtad82402a.