Acne Treatment

acne treatment

The common underlying principle in all acne treatments is to reduce oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection, reducing the inflammation.  Most drugs attempt to do all four in varying measures or at least one. What is important to understand is the fact that almost all of these medications you may not see results for four to eight weeks.
First and foremost you need a detailed evaluation by an expert dermatologist. After taking a detailed clinical history and doing a physical examination he/she  may recommend a prescription medication you apply to your skin (topical medication) or take by mouth (oral medication).

Types of acne treatments :

Over-the-counter topical treatments

These do not require prescription by a doctor and are freely available at most pharmacies. These are usually lotions and they act by drying up the oil, killing bacteria and promoting shedding of the dead skin cells. These drugs are usually moderate efficacy treatments and contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid or sulfur as their active ingredient. These products can be helpful for very mild acne.
In the initial month of treatment you may experience mildly irritating side effects — such as skin irritation, dryness and flaking.

Topical treatments available by prescription

If your condition is slightly more complex you may find that OTC medications do not work for you. In this situation you necessarily have to consult a competent dermatologist to get a stronger prescription lotion. The major drugs used in this group are Tretinoin (A-Ret, A-Ret-HC, Airol and  others), adapalene (Acneril, Aclene and others) and tazarotene (Texara forte, Tazret and others) are examples of topical prescription products derived from vitamin A.

Their mode of action is by promoting cell turnover and they prevent plugging of the hair follicles. Since most cases of acne are complicated by a secondary bacterial infection, most dermatologists prescribe a antibiotic ointment.

Perhaps the most desirable outcome is obtained by a combination of such treatments by a skilled dermatologist and patient continuation of therapy to attain the results desired. Most patients are emotionally traumatized by this condition and are anxious for quick results hence change doctors and treatments very often before the desired effect can manifest.

 Dapsone gel (Acnesone Gel) is a newer acne treatment that's very effective in treating inflammatory acne(red angry looking acne). Most of these ointments may cause skin side effects, such as stinging, burning, redness or peeling. Talk with your doctor about the common side effects of these medications and he/she may recommend using a gradually increased dose, washing off the medication after a short application or switching to another medication.


Moderate to severe acne almost always requires a short course of oral antibiotics to reduce bacteria and fight inflammation. Widespread attempt to treat acne by Doctors not trained in skin medicine and self medication by patients have resulted in significant antibiotic resistance.

Most dermatologists start with a antibiotic course but soon taper it off if they start seeing a improvement in acne and in rare cases they may decide to terminate antibiotic therapy if there is no improvement in symptoms even after 90 days of therapy.

 In most cases, you'll use topical medications and oral antibiotics together. There is now some significant research evidence to show that using topical benzoyl peroxide along with oral antibiotics may reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance.


For severe cases of acne antibiotics are almost always never enough. Isotretinoin (Acnestar, Acnex and others) is a very powerful medication available for scarring severe cases of acne or acne that doesn't respond to other treatments.

This medication has to be administered under very close supervision of a dermatologist as it has very severe side effects and can cause in rare cases may cause fatal liver failure. Isotretinoin is associated with severe birth defects, so it is absolutely contraindicated in pregnant women or women who may become pregnant during the course of treatment or within several weeks of concluding treatment. Most dermatologists in fact are very conservative in starting therapy with this drug and might not decide to use it in women in the child bearing age group.

The most common side effects are— such as dry eyes, mouth, lips, nose and skin, as well as itching, nosebleeds, muscle aches, sun sensitivity and poor night vision.

Some of the lesser known but significant side effects of this drug are its ability to increase the risk of depression and suicide.

Oral contraceptives

 Oral contraceptives pills that including a combination of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol  can improve acne in women. However, oral contraceptives may cause other side effects — such as headaches, breast tenderness, nausea and depression. Oral contraceptive pills also increase the risk of heart disease and may cause Deep Vein Thrombosis

Laser and light therapy

Laser- and light-based therapies are very effective in reaching the deeper layers of skin without harming the skin's surface. Focused lasers can cause damage the excess oil producing glands thereby decreasing the oil production. Light therapy utilizes the ability of the UV spectrum to achieve extraordinary bacterial cell kill without causing any significant damage to the human skin cells. Laser dermabrasion can improve skin texture and lessen the appearance of scars.

Cosmetic procedures

 Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are widely used in controlling cases of mild to moderate acne. They are best used in combination with other acne treatments. However patients should be warned that these techniques may cause severe redness, scaling and blistering, and long-term discoloration of the skin.

For More on the treatment of Acne Scars click here

for Ten Awesome Home Remedies for Acne click here

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