The very abundance of remedies is part of the problem Not only are the many choices confusing (How do you pick?), but it is axiomatic in medicine that if there are many different treatments for any given condition, there isn’t one that can be counted on to be surefire. That is very much the case with acne.

It is not a simple disease, and it does not yield to simple solutions. Acne is what doctors call a “multifactorial” and “pleomorphic” disease.

That means that it has multiple causes and manifests itself in many different ways. Successful long-term treatment generally demands that several, if not all, of the causes be addressed simultaneously.

Most cases are best treated with a combination of several medications, and it can take a lot of trial and error to devise a successful strategy to fit any one person’s individual set of circumstances.

Acne is what doctors call a “multifactorial” and “pleomorphic” disease. That means that it has multiple causes and manifests itself in many different ways. Successful long-term treatment generally demands that several, if not all, of the causes be addressed simultaneously. Most cases are best treated with a combination of several medications, and it can take a lot of trial and error to devise a successful strategy to fit any one person’s individual set of circumstances For any doctor, coming up with the right solution for any specific patient can entail a surprising amount of medical spadework, as Polis says she learned as a young dermatology resident. “When I was a resident, everybody got assigned something called a basic science project,” she recalls. “My basic science tor, and I can’t tell you which acne medicines are right for you, any more than I could write a prescription for one of them. Nor can I tell you exactly which choices to make when you’re on your own, searching the increasingly crowded acne-treatment shelves at your drugstore or supermarket.

But I hope I can give you information that will help you understand and use to best advantage any treatment you may employ whether from a doctor or the drugstore. Your acne is not the same as your teenage son’s, or your neighbor’s, or even your own acne from ten years ago Or ten days ago. And it probably cannot be treated in precisely the same way. The truth about acne is that there is no one acne prescription, no one acne cure for everyone.

“I always teach women, you have to be your own skin doc-tor/beauty expert, because no one can tell you exactly what to do or use all of the timeā€”not even a skin doctor or a beauty expert,” says celebrity makeup artist and cosmetics entrepreneur Bobbi Brown. “Your skin changes by the day, the season, the climate, your hormones. So you need to look and learn, and recognize when you need to be gentle, and when you need to be a little more aggressive.

Or when you need to change something. I like to say you have to empower a person with a lot of knowledge and then she can make the decisions that are right for her.” And when it comes to acne, knowledge is definitely power.