Acne – Washes

August 23rd, 2010

Acne washes play a very important role in the treatment of acne.  A good wash should most importantly be non-irritating.  Any wash that dries out the skin or is abrasive will worsen acne.  The main goal of an acne wash is to remove sebum (oil), keratinocytes (dead skin), and debris (dirt) thus cleansing the skin and the pores.  A secondary goal is to provide an active ingredient that helps treat acne.  The wash should be applied gently with the fingertips using luke warm water.  Pads and face cloths are too harsh.  It is very important not to scrub the acne as being gentle on the skin is of utmost importance.   The simplest acne wash is a bland soap such as Dove.  It does not contain an active ingredient but does a great job in cleansing the face.  Cetaphil wash is another bland wash without an active ingredient that is excellent in patients with sensitive skin.  I recommend Neutrogena Oil Free Wash for the majority of my patients with acne.  It should be applied twice a day.  The active ingredient is salicylic acid, which helps to remove small acne papules and white heads/black heads.  Benzoyl Peroxide washes such as Proactiv and other over the counter washes are harsher on the skin than a salicylic acid wash but they are very effective at treating acne.  Since most of my acne regimens involve Epiduo, which contains benzoyl peroxide, I generally have patients avoid this active ingredient.  Occasionally, I prescribe a 4% benzoyl peroxide wash for the trunk and extremities to be used in the shower if a patient has truncal acne.  My personal acne wash is Biore Pore Unclogging Scrub.  Its active ingredient is salicylic acid.  I am very fortunate to have clear skin and use the Biore scrub to just remove oil at night.  It has small beads in the wash that feel really good on the skin.Neutrogena Oil Free Wash