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Super Acne Is an Actual Thing Wreaking Havoc On Your Skin


Le sigh. Despite the annoying fact that many of us have to deal with acne long after our teen years are over (something our moms clearly lied to us about), it now looks like science is ready to deliver another skin care blow. New research from the British Association of Dermatologists' Annual Conference shows that there's actually a thing called super acne, and you could have it right now.

First, let's talk about what it is: Super acne is a strain of acne that's resistant to antibiotics. (Side note: Did you see that gonorrhea, one of the more common STDs, is becoming drug-resistant too?) Why it matters: If your acne is bad enough and doesn't get better after your dermatologist tries topical, over-the-counter treatments (like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide), they may bust out the prescription pad and try antibiotics. Of course, that's dependent on what kind of acne you're struggling with (some acne is caused by hormones, while others are a result of dirt, oil, and bacteria); antibiotics help ward off breakouts caused by bacteria. (Good news: Differin, an acne-fighting retinol cream, is available over-the-counter for the first time!)

The downside to taking antibiotics for too long (experts say you shouldn't take them for more than three months if you're not seeing results) is that your body can develop a resistance to the drug. The researchers behind these new findings say that resistance can then lead to the development of an antibiotic-resistant, acne-causing bacteria. Which basically means that the bacteria gets used to the antibiotics. And because it's smarter than we'd like it to be, the bacteria evolves accordingly so we can no longer kill it. Greeeat.

That said, if antibiotics are really working for you, don't ditch them altogether. Talk to your dermatologist, who will help you monitor your usage to try to prevent a resistance from developing. Your derm can also talk to you about hormonal therapies, which can be effective in treating acne without targeting bacteria, and in turn nixing your risk of antibiotic resistance. Skin care treatment is super personal, so it's best to have a pro by your side to help you develop a plan that's best for you.


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