When it comes to finding the right acne treatments, there are a million of products or treatments out there in the market. The options can be overwhelming, it can be difficult to tell which is the best solution for you.

Truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to acne.

Every patient responds to treatments differently, and sometimes it can get worse before it gets better. I understand the despair when you’ve tried just about everything to get rid of the acne but there’s still annoying zits breaking out from time to time. Finding the right treatment for you is part of acne self-care, and with the help of your skin doctor, you can find the most suitable regimen for your skin.

In general, I will examine your skin to determine the severity of your acne and figure out which type (or types) of acne you have.

Once you figure out what you’re working with, it gets far easier to treat. For mild to moderate acne, you can consider topical acne treatment.

  • Salicylic acid

My go to best friend when it comes to treating teenage acne. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that works by dissolving excess oil and gently exfoliating dead skin cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to help with inflamed cystic breakouts that can occur when blockages deep in the hair follicles rupture beneath the skin.

  • Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial ingredient, and it’s very effective at decreasing the P. acnes bacteria that causes breakouts. However, I am personally not a fan because it causes dryness, as well as redness and excessive peeling. Sometimes, you might notice itching and general irritation too. It may not be suitable for sensitive skin.

It is available in 2.5%, 5%, and 10% concentrations over the counter. Always start with the lowest dose or consult a doctor t to determine the right percentage for you. Extra tip: Use with extra soothing and moisturizing products. 

  • Retinoids

You’ve probably heard of the benefits of retinoid creams for antiaging, but these forms of vitamin are also efficient in reducing acne. They increase skincells turnover hence faster exfoliation. Creams like adapalene gel also helps to unclog pore and reduce oil production. They’re my favourite rescue creams even on myself when I get zits nearing my menstruation.

How about Moderate to Severe Acne?

Cystic acne are the more challenging ones. Since cystic zits are deeply rooted within the skin tissue, there’s no magic treatment or serum that’ll completely clear up your acne at home. They typically require time, patience, and a prescription-strength remedy from a doctor.

My acne treatment for patients typically revolves these 3 important steps. The ultimate goal is to prevent acne scar formation.

First, Control the Acne Breakout. ( Resolution of lesions)

For inflamed acne, I will prescribe oral antibiotics and topical creams as suggested above. These work by killing excess skin bacteria and reducing sebum ( read: oil). For the first few months of treatment, you may use both a topical retinoid and antibiotic. Examples include clindamycin with benzoyl peroxide (Benzaclin, Duac) or adapalene gel (Differin)

For severe acne with nodular cystic acne that do not respond to oral antibiotics or topical creams, oral isotretinoin can be prescribed to control severe acne. This medication is derived from Vitamin A. It targets your acne by reducing production of oil and decreasing inflammation. However, while it can be an effective acne treatment, isotretinoin has some potential side effevts you should know about. One of it is that it can cause severe birth defects. It has to be consumed and monitored with a healthcare professional.

Then, Reduce Acne Marks and Inflammation. ( Anti inflammatory)

Discolouration left behind after a zit has cleared isn’t a scar. The pink, purple or brown marks are called a post inflammatory hyperpigmentation ( acne mark)

Besides systemic antibiotics or antiinflammatory topical creams, an antiinflammatory intralesional steroid injection can also be used to treat inflamed acne cysts. Cysts may shrink 2-5 days after the injection.

Laser therapies like yellow lasers can also be used to shrink sebum glands, reduce oil production and destroy bacteria.

Chemical peels such as salicylic acid peel, modified Jessner peel or glycolic acid peel are my favourite remedies for acne. Salicylic acid peel is particularly effective for comedonal acne because of its comedolytic ( unclogging pores) properties. Glycolic acid is water soluble and is used for exfoliation and lightening of acne marks.

Lastly, Treat the Acne Scars.

Active breakouts are frustrating but acne scars left behind can be even more disturbing. But the good news is that acne scars can be treated. However, it is very important to get rid of active outbreak of acne before starting acne scar treatment as new zits can lead to new acne scars.

More on acne scar treatment here.


For doctor’s detailed consultation regarding your acne treatment, kindly contact Kaiteki Skin Aesthetic Laser at 03-79322711 to schedule an appointment.

Location: Kaiteki Skin Aesthetic Laser, B-1-03, The Hub SS2, 19 Sentral, Jalan Harapan, Seksyen 19, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Operating hours: Weekdays 10am-7pm, Weekends 10.30am-6pm

Dr Jessie Lim

Dr Jessie Lim

Dr Jessie Lim is a LCP-board certified Aesthetic Physician with MD and post-graduate certification in Aesthetics from Medical Aesthetic Certification and American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine (AAAM). She is highly specialised with special focus in filler injectables and laser therapies. Both lively and lovely, she emits a welcoming aura to everyone around her. Her warm-heartedness and genuine personality quickly bridges the gap between patients, which is crucial for her in understanding and managing a patient’s concerns and expectations.
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