Does Acne Go Away On Its Own?


Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages. It can range from mild to severe and often leads to questions like “Will my acne go away on its own?” or “Does acne go away on its own?”

Does Acne Go Away On Its Own

For many people, acne tends to come and go throughout life. Especially during the teenage years, breakouts are very common due to hormonal changes. But what about acne in adults? Does it just go away eventually?

The short answer is - it depends. There are a few factors that determine whether acne will clear up on its own or require treatment. Let's take a closer look.

What Causes Acne?

Before we can answer if acne goes away on its own, it helps to understand what causes it in the first place.

Acne forms when hair follicles become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. This creates a plug that blocks the follicle and leads to swelling and the formation of pimples. There are several factors that contribute to this process:

  • Excess oil production - Your sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum that keeps the skin lubricated. When too much sebum is produced, the oil can build up and clog pores. This excess oil is very common during puberty.
  • Hormones - Androgen hormones like testosterone signal the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Hormonal fluctuations during puberty, menstrual cycles, and pregnancy can all trigger breakouts.
  • Bacteria - There is a bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) that lives on everyone's skin. When pores become clogged, it can multiply quickly and cause inflammation.
  • Dead skin cell buildup - The skin is constantly shedding dead cells. When these cells stick together and clog pores along with sebum, pimples can form.
  • Genetics - Some people are simply more prone to acne due to their genetics. This determines how sensitive your sebaceous glands are to androgen hormones.

So in summary, acne is caused by a combination of excess oil, hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells, and genetics. With all these factors, does it just magically clear up?

Does Acne Go Away On Its Own?

The natural course of acne varies greatly between individuals. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Teenage acne - Acne that shows up during puberty will often go away on its own by the late teens or early 20s as hormones level out. However, it can persist or continue to flare up in adulthood for some.
  • Adult acne - Breakouts that first appear in adulthood tend to be more stubborn. As we age, our skin produces less oil but other factors like hormones and genetics remain constant. Therefore, adult acne usually requires some type of treatment.
  • Occasional breakouts - Mild acne that only flares up every so often may clear on its own. The breakouts are likely tied to temporary hormonal changes. But if they keep recurring frequently, treatment is needed.
  • Severe acne - Moderate to severe acne characterized by painful cysts/nodules is less likely to disappear spontaneously. The inflammation and acne scars can persist without medical care.

So for many teens, acne is a passing phase that resolves as they finish puberty. However, ongoing acne past adolescence often needs attention. The occasional pimple may clear on its own but regular flare-ups generally don't.

How Long Does It Take For Acne To Go Away?

If your acne is going to resolve spontaneously, how long does it take? Unfortunately, there is no definite timeline since it depends on the individual. But here are some general timeframes:

  • Mild to moderate teenage acne - Can take 1-5 years to fully clear up as hormones stabilize.
  • Moderate to severe teenage acne - May take up to 10 years to resolve without treatment. The inflammation can persist.
  • Mild adult acne - Tends to last 6 months to several years if untreated.
  • Moderate to severe adult acne - Unlikely to fully resolve on its own and will usually require treatment.

Keep in mind that even mild acne can lead to permanent scarring over time. The deeper and more inflamed the pimples, the longer PIE (post-inflammatory erythema) and PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) will stick around after they heal.

So while waiting to "outgrow" acne is an option, it may be better to treat it. Successful acne treatment can prevent lasting physical and emotional side effects.

Acne Treatment Options

If your acne is not getting better on its own after several months or keeps flaring up regularly, consider seeing a dermatologist. They can create a customized treatment plan based on your acne severity and goals.

Here are some of the most common medical and natural treatments for acne:


  • Topical retinoids - Rx creams like tretinoin (Retin-A) that unclog pores and reduce oil.
  • Antibiotics - Oral antibiotics or topical antibacterial gels/creams. They combat acne bacteria.
  • Anti-androgens - Rx pills like spironolactone that block oil-triggering androgens.
  • Isotretinoin - Powerful Rx vitamin A derivative for severe, scarring acne.
  • Birth control pills - Help stabilize hormone levels for acne-prone women.

Natural/OTC Remedies

  • Tea tree oil - Natural antibacterial/anti-inflammatory.
  • Azelaic acid - OTC grainy acid that kills acne bacteria.
  • Salicylic acid - BHA cleansers/spot treatments to unclog pores.
  • Benzoyl peroxide - OTC antibacterial gel that reduces pimples.
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids - Chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or lactic acid.
  • Diet/lifestyle changes - Lowering dairy/sugar intake, exercising, hydrating, and stress management.

With professional guidance, most people can find an acne treatment that works for them. So don't lose hope if your acne is not resolving itself - there are many options to clear up breakouts for good.

Natural Ways To Help Acne Go Away

While acne usually won't vanish entirely on its own, there are some natural self-care habits that can help improve breakouts. Give these tips a try:

1. Use a gentle face wash.

Harsh soaps and astringents strip the skin which leads to irritation and more oil production. Use a mild cleanser once or twice a day. Look for natural ingredients like green tea, oats, or aloe vera.

2. Moisturize daily.

Many acne-prone people avoid moisturizer in fear of clogged pores. But skipping moisturizer can make your skin produce more oil to compensate. Look for oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas.

3. Exfoliate regularly.

Gently exfoliating removes dead skin cells before they have a chance to clog follicles. Try an AHA or BHA acid scrub 2-3 times a week.

4. Cut back on dairy and sugar.

Studies show a link between dairy/sugar and acne. Limiting your intake may help reduce breakouts.

5. Take care of stress.

Stress hormones like cortisol ramp up oil production. Try relaxing practices like meditation, yoga, or journaling to calm stress levels.

6. Get enough sleep.

Not getting your beauty rest deprives the skin cells of their repair time. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

While these tips alone probably won't cure acne, they can help control flare-ups. Be patient and consistent with natural remedies. If breakouts persist after 2-3 months, seek professional treatment.

The Takeaway: Should You Wait For Acne To Go Away?

Does acne go away on its own? The truth is it depends on the person. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Mild teenage acne often resolves by the early 20s without treatment as hormones level out.
  • Adult acne that develops after adolescence is less likely to disappear on its own since hormones remain constant.
  • Occasional minor breakouts may clear spontaneously but recurring flare-ups typically need acne treatment.
  • Severe, painful acne with nodules/cysts rarely goes away alone and leads to scarring if not treated.
  • Natural remedies like gentle cleansing and moisturizing can support acne healing but are rarely a cure-all.
  • For moderate to severe acne, see a dermatologist to explore medical treatment options and prevent lasting acne scarring.

While waiting for acne to resolve itself is an option, treatment can speed up the process so your skin clears faster and with fewer complications. Don't lose hope - with today's therapies, clear healthy skin is achievable for life!

Frequently Asked Questions About Acne Going Away on Its Own

Acne is a common skin condition that affects many teens and adults. Often the first question on people's minds is - will my acne just go away on its own? Here we cover some of the most frequently asked questions about waiting for acne to resolve spontaneously versus seeking treatment.

Does acne go away on its own?

For some people, acne does go away on its own eventually. Those with mild teenage acne often see their breakouts resolve by their early 20s as hormones level out. However, adult acne that starts after adolescence is less likely to disappear without treatment. Severe acne with cysts and nodules rarely goes away on its own either.

How long does it take acne to go away naturally?

There is no set timeline since it depends on the individual. Mild or moderate teenage acne could take 1-5 years to fully clear without treatment. More severe teen acne can take up to 10 years or longer to resolve alone. Adult acne often lasts for years if left untreated. The deeper the acne, the longer any erythema or hyperpigmentation lingers after healing too.

What factors determine if acne will go away on its own?

The main factors are acne severity, age of onset, and type of acne. Mild to moderate inflammatory acne that shows up in the teens has the best chance of eventually going away unaided. Adult acne and severe cystic acne very rarely resolve without treatment. Genetics also play a role in determining how sensitive your skin is to hormones.

Does birth control help acne go away?

Birth control pills that contain estrogen and progesterone can help stabilize hormones in women. This prevents the hormonal fluctuations that trigger acne breakouts. So yes, birth control can effectively treat acne by addressing one of the underlying causes - hormones.

Does acne go away after pregnancy?

Acne flaring up during pregnancy is very common due to surging hormones. After giving birth, hormones start to balance back out again. So post-pregnancy acne often goes away on its on within several months as long as the breakouts were mild to moderate. Severe acne may leave scars.

Will avoiding certain foods make acne go away?

Diet alone cannot cure acne for most people. However, research does suggest a link between acne and high glycemic foods like dairy products and refined sugars. Limiting foods that spike blood sugar may help reduce breakouts. But dietary changes rarely eliminate acne altogether.

Can natural treatments make acne go away?

Certain natural ingredients like tea tree oil, azelaic acid, probiotics, and zinc may help control acne. But these alone do not make acne totally disappear for most people with moderate to severe inflammatory acne. Mild comedonal acne has a better chance of clearing with natural remedies.

When should you see a dermatologist for acne?

It's recommended to see a dermatologist if you have painful, cystic acne or if over-the-counter and natural treatments haven't improved your moderate acne after 3 months. A dermatologist can prescribe stronger topical or oral medication to clear up stubborn acne and help prevent permanent scarring.

What acne treatments are available?

Common medical treatments include topical retinoids, antibiotics, hormonal agents, isotretinoin, photodynamic therapy, and lasers. Natural options include tea tree oil, salicylic acid, vitamin C, probiotics, and other plant-based ingredients. Most people can find an effective acne treatment by working with their dermatologist.

While waiting for acne to resolve on its own is an option, treatment helps speed the clearing process and prevents lasting physical and emotional side effects. Don't hesitate to see a doctor if your acne is not showing signs of improvement within a few months. There are many therapies that can get your skin clear!

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