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5 Things to Know Before Stopping Your Acne Treatment

Here's how to wean yourself off your go-to zit-zapper without sacrificing a clear complexion
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There comes a time in every acne-sufferer's life where you finally find the miracle solution that clears up your complexion, once and for all. It's the most glorious day ever, with bells ringing and birds singing and you constantly looking in the mirror and admiring your newly blemish-free skin. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end (don't worry we're talking about the treatment, not your good skin). Maybe you just want to stop using the treatment, or have to stop because you're pregnant. How do you go about weaning yourself off the treatment that finally did the trick—without ending up with a whole new batch of breakouts? We asked derms for their advice on how to stop using five common acne-fighters.

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Retinoids
ICYM, retinoids, a class of vitamin-A derivatives, are one of the biggest skin care superstars out there, with the ability to do everything from fade spots to smooth wrinkles to, you guessed it, treat acne. Because they do have so many other benefits—and most dermatologists will recommend one as part of any good skincare routine anyway—there's really no need to stop using one. The one major exception is if you're pregnant. Any kind of retinoid, whether it's a prescription or OTC option, is a no-no for mommas-to-be. "Topical retinoids should be stopped as soon as you start planning to become pregnant," advises Erin Gilbert, MD, a dermatologist in Brooklyn, NY. "If your pregnancy comes as a surprise, stop using it right away," she adds. In either case, stop using it cold turkey, not gradually.

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Spironolactone
Lots of women will tell you that this oral medication is the only thing that got rid of their hormonal acne. Still, if you've been taking it for a while, your skin has cleared up, and you want to come off it, it's best to do so gradually, suggests Joshua Zeichner, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "I usually recommend decreasing the dose by 25 milligrams every month, to see what the lowest possible dose a patient can take before breaking out," he says. Keep in mind that it takes several weeks for the effect of the medicine to kick in, and just as long for it to wear off, he adds. And if you're prego? Spironolactone can lead to birth defects, so you definitely don't want to mess around here. If you're not yet pregnant but planning on it, discuss tapering it off with your derm, advises Gilbert. And if you suspect you may be pregnant or unexpectedly find out you are, stop taking it immediately.

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Oral Antibiotics
Often prescribed to help address the inflammation associated with acne, oral antibiotics are one treatment you should most definitely stop taking cold turkey, says Zeichner. "Lowering doses or taking it intermittently essentially tempts bacteria on your skin, and can increase your risk of developing antibiotic resistance," he explains. As far as pregnancy is considered, he recommends stopping them at least one month before you start trying to have a baby.

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Benzoyl Peroxide
One of the most common topical treatment ingredients, BP (as the cool kids call it) is found in everything from cleansers to spot treatments. And while it works by killing acne-causing bacteria, there's no reported resistance to benzoyl peroxide, points out Zeichner, meaning you can gradually taper off use. Regardless of the type of BP product you're using, he recommends applying it every other day, gradually getting down to just once a week. While he says it's usually not recommended for pregnant women, Gilbert points out that it may be a case-by-case basis. Your best bet (as it is for all of these)? Discuss your specific skin issues—and the products you're using or meds you're taking—with both your derm and gyno.

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BY MELANIE RUD CHADWICK | JAN 8, 2018 | SHARES
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