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why won’t my acne go away

Whether you’ve been dealing with acne for years or just a few weeks, you’ve surely asked, “Why won’t my acne go away?”

It can be so frustrating when you have zero idea what the culprit might be for your stubborn acne.

But you know, it’s easy to overlook details when we’re deep into the problem.

The culprit could even stare you in the face. You just haven’t noticed.

So, let me help you zero in on the possible reason your acne just won’t go away.

You’re not washing your face after sweating heavily.

why won’t my acne go away

You’re probably already aware that you need to wash your face twice a day.

Once in the morning after you wake up. Once in the evening before you go to bed.

But what you could overlook is washing your face after sweating heavily.

Let’s say you workout five days a week. Even the most basic exercises are sure to make you work up a sweat.

Just towel-drying your sweaty face leaves your skin with sweat residue and bacteria.

So, you should wash your face after workouts. 

If you have dry and/or sensitive skin, you can wash with just water. Or schedule your workout before one of your washes. 

You’re scrubbing your face clean.

why won’t my acne go away

Sticky, greasy, dirty, or grimy-feeling skin can make it so tempting to scrub your face clean.

And isn’t that a good thing? To clean your face until it’s squeaky-clean?

No!

Scrubbing your face clean can irritate your skin and make acne worse. 

“Oh, but that stubborn pimple finally popped after I scrubbed.”

Yes, sure, but at what cost?

I’ll tell you what: irritated blemishes will take longer to heal. Pimple marks will take months to fade. Scars may never disappear completely.

So, please, please, please be gentle with your skin. 

Gently massage with your cleanser. Spread your moisturizer with a light hand then pat it in.

You keep on touching, picking, and popping your acne.

why won’t my acne go away

I think most people who’ve had acne are guilty of doing this even just once.

I surely am. I’ve had a 14-year long battle with acne. And you can bet that I’ve popped a pimple or two (or more) in those years.

I wish I hadn’t though!

Because seriously, touching, picking, and popping your acne is very counterproductive.

Sure, you’ve removed the pus and plug from your pimple. But what are you left with next? A red spot that’s still pretty noticeable.

And picking at your acne blemishes will just push the contents of your pimple deeper into the skin. That will increase your inflammation, which is why the previous pimple looks angrier and red [1]. 

Popping your pimple can also open the wound and deepen the damage. So, not only will your acne be more noticeable. It’s also more likely to leave a mark and a scar after healing.

You don’t change your pillowcases regularly enough.

why won’t my acne go away

Up to 3 million bacteria can be on your pillowcase [2]. That’s 1 week after washing it. Crazy!

Our face comes into contact with that pillowcase for more than 6 hours a night. 

Think of how your nighttime skin care products must have been marinating on that pillowcase. Then night after night, your face recollects the product-residue plus bacteria and dead skin cells. Yikes.

That could be why acne just won’t leave your side.

So, if you haven’t changed your pillowcase in a while, you better do it tonight!

And on that note, we better be changing our pillowcases regularly.

Washing your pillowcases two to three times a week should keep dirt and bacteria off your face as you sleep [3].

Your skin care routine needs to be re-evaluated.

why won’t my acne go away

So, you’ve been sticking to a skin care routine for a while now but still no progress with acne.

It could be time to re-evaluate your skin care routine.

Generally, it’s a good idea to be critical with the products you’re using.

Evaluating your products will keep you from wasting time and money on products that do little to nothing at all for your skin.

If your products don’t break you out, you’d still want to observe the effect of the products for at least a month. 

The skin renews itself after 30 to 40 days, hence the 1-month trial period [4].

A month may seem so long. But it’s really worth the wait. 

This way, you can save yourself from continuing to use a product that may not even be doing anything good for your face. 

It’s not doing anything bad but not doing anything good either. So, what’s the point?

You need to add a second acne product to your routine.

why won’t my acne go away

Let’s say you already have a working basic skin care routine.

Plus, you’re using an “acne product”, like salicylic acid for example.

Salicylic acid is good for acne since it helps unclog pores and calm inflammation [5]. And maybe it helped a lot…for some time. 

Depending on the severity of your acne, it’s not surprising for one acne product to fall short in treating acne.

It’s helping treat acne, but it’s not enough on its own. In that case, you’ll want to add a second acne product to your routine.

For example, a good companion for salicylic acid is benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide (BP) is a strong bactericide [5]. This just means BP is very effective in killing the acne-causing bacteria, Cutibacterium acnes. 

Apart from being antibacterial, BP can also exfoliate the skin’s surface.

So, while salicylic acid works deep in the pores, BP is taking care of the surface. 

Just keep in mind, when adding a second treatment, give the product time to work. 

And please, since acne products can be very drying, do not forget to moisturize!

You need to go to a dermatologist.

why won’t my acne go away

Going to a dermatologist is actually the best first step to knowing why your acne won’t go away. 

Of course, not everyone has the means to. But if you do, it’s best to see a professional so you can avoid any irreversible damage to your skin.

If you’re not convinced yet, look at it like this. 

If everything you’ve tried doesn't seem to work on acne, dermatologists can help you find a more effective treatment. Some acne treatment can only be given by derms, like spironolactone, finacea, aczone, and clindamycin.

Plus, sometimes, your skin condition may not be acne after all. 

There are skin conditions that look like acne but are not acne. Like rosacea, keratosis pilaris, and perioral dermatitis. 

Since dermatologists have studied for so long about the skin, they know a lot more about skin conditions you might have, other than acne. 

Going to a dermatologist can help you properly identify your skin condition and how it can be treated.


And with that, we’re done!

Are there more potential reasons? Many! For some people, diet is actually the biggest reason they get acne.

For others, lifestyle issues like stress.

But did any of these possible reasons answer the question, “Why Won’t My Acne Go Away?” 

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

All Acne Questions Answered

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