Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.57.35 AMWhen it comes to acne, cold beats hot.

Hot: The power of heat at this time is limited in acne care. Lasers and radio frequency devices use targeted heat to kill bacteria in the skin, which can improve acne, but only to a moderate degree and for a high cost. For these reasons, I don’t advocate for these methods, especially lasers. I am intrigued by radio frequency devices and will keep my eye on them as more research comes out, but so far I don’t see much good science when it comes to radio frequency and acne. Spot treatment devices which claim to use heat to stop a pimple from forming tend to disappoint in both their efficacy and cost as well.

Cold: Cold on the other hand, has a long standing history of helping to treat acne. According to a review article published in Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology, “Cold is…a useful treatment modality. In dermatological care, cold is often used for angioedema (under the skin swelling)…” We can see the power of ice in spot treatment. If you feel a zit forming, put a piece of ice in a Ziploc bag and hold it very gently on the spot for 5 minutes. This simple treatment can work wonders, especially when combined with proper topical treatment and anti-inflammatory agents. While less convenient, ice can also be used all over the face. If you’d like to try it, simply fill up a styrofoam cup with water and freeze it. Then peel back the styrofoam and VERY GENTLY move the ice over your entire face. This can get messy but can be fun from time to time. Just be certain to remain ultra gentle to reduce any unwanted irritation.

Cold can help, but there is no substitute for properly treating your skin. First, get on The Regimen and get cleared up. Then, feel free to use ice on occasion when you need it for spot treatment or when you just feel like adding in something for a change of pace.

References:

  • Bayata S, Turel EA. “Thermotherapy in dermatology.” Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology. 2012; 31(3): 235-40.

cr_logo_homeConsumer reports recently tested some popular acne treatments. They pitted Proactiv against AcneFree and found no difference in efficacy. “After eight weeks, acne was never wiped out completely, but in half to two thirds of volunteers, the number of blemishes was reduced by an average of about 40 percent.”

My 2 cents: 40% efficacy is nowhere near good enough. Over the many years that I have been researching both over-the-counter and prescription treatments, this 40% mark is often where treatments land. Keep in mind that when you give people a placebo, their acne clears up on average about 30%. I think any acne treatment should aim to completely clear acne. Having 40% less acne still means you are broken out, and who wants that? People who closely follow The Regimen almost always get completely clear. I would like to see these large brands give people much larger sizes of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and instruct their users exactly how to gently cleanse and apply the benzoyl peroxide in order to get completely clear.



Consumer reports also tested zappers which use heat to supposedly shrink acne lesions. They tested Zeno as well as No! No! Skin. The authors of the test concluded, “Both devices shrank most acne lesions but eliminated only about 13 percent of them.”

My 2 cents: I am surprised at Consumer Reports conclusion on heat devices. Our team here at acne.org did our own test on Zeno and ThermaClear heat therapy devices on volunteers in our office. In our small, anecdotal study, neither device visibly shrunk or eliminated any lesions. More on heat devices here.

References:

  • “Acne treatments come out a wash.” Consumer Reports. 2012; 77(1): 9.