How Long Do Acne Treatments Take to Work?

Acne treatments can be highly effective, but most don't work overnight. Here's when you can expect your products to kick in.

Whether you're 15 or 50, a breakout can ruin your day. Acne treatments can and do work, so don't allow your breakout to send you into a tailspin of hopelessness. The key is to find the treatment that works for your skin type while addressing the underlying cause of your acne.


How Long Do Acne Treatments Take to Work?

Acne Treatments: Choosing the Right Formula for Your Needs

If you've tried acne treatments before and gotten no results, you may simply have selected the wrong product for your skin type. Before trying again, ask yourself:


How Long Do Acne Treatments Take to Work?

How Long Must I Wait?

The length of time it takes an acne product to work depends on myriad factors, including the severity of your breakout, your typical healing time, and your skincare habits.

The makeup you use can also play a role, so if you're having a particularly severe breakout, consider a cosmetic-free day. If that's not an option, use a skin-friendly formulation, such as Dr. Hauschka Foundation

In general, you should expect to see an improvement in 24 to 48 hours. Your breakout should be substantially diminished in three to four days and completely gone within a week.

If you're still struggling after seven days, consider talking to a dermatologist. Your acne may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, or you might be using the wrong products.

Acne Treatments: Why Less Is Sometimes More

If your skin is red and inflamed, you've got a big event coming up, or you're sick of endlessly fighting breakouts, you might be willing to try anything—however ill-advised—to get your skin back into shape.

Some people take matters into their own hands by using multiple products. Others double up on the dose of their favourite product or apply it multiple times each day. But overzealousness is a recipe for skin mayhem.

If you use more than the recommended dosage of any product, you can dry your skin, creating a flaky mess that actually worsens the breakout. You could even suffer an allergic reaction or develop a painful rash. Stick to the directions listed on the product, and avoid using more than two to three products at a time.


What About Prescription and Systemic Acne Treatments?

If your skin doesn't respond well to the usual acne treatments, your doctor might recommend a prescription medication instead. These products typically take a bit longer to work, since they address the underlying cause of the acne.

But for people with health or skin issues that prove intractable to the usual products, prescription remedies can work wonders. Be sure to give your doctor a complete overview of your symptoms, and ask about any topical products—including medicated cosmetics—that you're using.

If you haven't seen results within a month, or if you develop new symptoms—such as itching, redness, severe sunburns, or a burning sensation—tell your doctor immediately. Sometimes it's necessary to tweak the dosage, combine your treatment with another drug, or switch to a new medication.


How Long Do Acne Treatments Take to Work?