Woah there, it looks like your browser is out of date.

To get the best experience, please update your browser.

Mythbusters: Does Trimming Actually Make Hair Grow Faster?
Does Your Go-To Shampoo Become Less Effective If You Keep Using It
What the Heck is Super Acne?

What the Heck is Super Acne?

Share Tweet Pin

If you've been perusing the web lately, you might have heard talk of "super acne." Although this might sound like something from a '50s sci-fi flick, it's actually very real. A study released at the British Association of Dermatologists' Annual Conference revealed that a new strain of acne is actually immune to anitbiotics. Before you start panicking, we got some details from NYC dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel to learn what we can do to fight super acne.

So...what is it?

“Super acne” isn't some crazy form of acne that's threatening to take over the world. Rather, it's a strain of bacteria—which is all acne is—that's wreaking havoc on some already blemish-prone skin. The worst part: It seems to have built of a resistance to treatment via antibiotics. This "super" strain is a genetic mutation that occurs when bacteria is exposed to antibiotics for a prolonged period of time

Now, is super acne really as big of a deal as the Internet would have you believe? The short answer. Maybe. "Super acne could potentially become very threatening, but as of now 'super acne' should be evaluated by a dermatologist before moving towards antibiotics," explains Dr. Sobel. If your derm thinks you might be suffering from "super acne" and prescribes antibiotics, it may only be for a limited time and is usually combined with topical products, he says.

Who is susceptible?

Although acne can target anyone (curses!), Dr. Sobel says "super acne" is occurring in primarily teens between the ages of 15 and 17. But, that doesn't mean that everyone who gets a persistent pimple needs to make an emergency appointment with their derm tomorrow! In fact, if you typically suffer from acne, that doesn't necessarily mean you're at a higher risk. 

If you normally suffer from acne and it doesn’t heal with over-the-counter treatments—such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic/glycolic acid—the next step would be prescription antibiotics, explains Dr. Sobel. It's when you use antibiotics for a prolonged period of time, that's where the trouble occurs. Not because you're already prone to acne. So, just because you're a blemish sufferer doesn't mean you're going to develop "super acne."  

So, you have "super acne," now what?

"The way you would treat regular acne is by using antibiotics and/or treatments that reduce inflammation and bacteria from forming," says Dr. Sobel. "If you become resistant to antibiotics and have persistent cystic acne, the next step would be a drug called Accutane. It is a vitamin A derivative (isotretinoin) and is taken for a period of five months." Of course, before taking any prescription or drastic measure, it's always best to consult a dermatologist and give topical treatments a try.

Take a peek at some of our picks for topical acne treatments to try before calling the derm.

Murad Acne Spot Treatment ($18)

murad acne spot treatment

Voted the top pick for acne treatments in the Reviewers' Choice Awards, Murad's spot treatment is a great option to take care of an unexpected blemish. With anti-inflammatory ingredients, this treatment reduces both redness and size.

Kiehl's Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment ($28)

kiehl's breakout control targeted acne spot treatment

Kiehl's sulfur-rich acne treatment is meant for adult acne. With 10 percent sulfur and Vitamin B3, this formula is designed to help fight off bacteriacausing acne and soothe older skin.

Estée Lauder Clear Difference Advanced Blemish Serum ($85)

Estée Lauder Clear Difference Advanced Blemish Serum

This fast-acting serum is designed to reduce the look of blemishes. Acceptable for use on all skin types, this serum sinks into skin quickly to get right to work

Which acne treatment do you swear by? Let us know your best products and tips for fighting blemishes.

Join now to gain access to over 20 million product reviews, free full size samples, and the latest product news.

Get Started

Are you a Brand or Agency? Contact Us