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Treatments Acne

Dermatologists – doctors who specialize in skin problems – treat all kinds of acne, especially severe cases. Doctors – general or family practitioners, pediatricians, or internists – also treat patients with milder cases of acne. The goals of all treatments is the same, are to heal existing lesions, stop new lesions from forming, prevent scarring, and minimize the psychological stress and embarrassment caused by this disease.

Drug treatments are aimed at bringing down several problems that play a part in causing acne. These are:

  • Abnormal clumping of cells in hair follicles
  • Increased oil production
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation.

Treatment for Acne – Blackheads, Whiteheads, and Mild Inflammatory

Doctors usually recommend the following OTC or prescription topical medicine for people with mild signs of acne :

  • Benzoyl peroxide – It destroys P. acnes, and may also reduce oil production
  • Resorcinol – It can help break down blackheads and whiteheads
  • Salicylic acid – It helps break down blackheads and whiteheads. Also helps cut down the shedding of cells lining the hair follicles
  • Sulfur – It helps break down blackheads and whiteheads.

While there are several OTC topical medicines used for mild acne, each one works a little differently.  These topical OTC medicines are available in many forms, such as gels, lotions, creams, soaps, or pads and are applied directly to the acne lesions or to the entire area of affected skin.. OTC acne medicines may cause side effects such as skin irritation, burning, or redness, in some people. They often get better or go away with continued use of the medicine. Those who experience severe or prolonged side effects, should report them to their doctor.

Treatment for Acne – Moderate to Severe Inflammations

People with moderate to severe inflammatory acne could either be treated with prescription topical or oral medicines, alone or in combination with the following prescription topical medicines

Antibiotics – They help stop or slow the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation

Vitamin A derivatives (retinoids) – They unplug existing comedones (plural of comedo), allowing other topical medicines, such as antibiotics, to enter the follicles. Some might also help decrease the formation of comedones.
Other treatments – They could destroy P. acnes while reducing oil production or help stop or slow the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation. Some examples of these are prescription strength Benzoyl peroxide, sodium sulfacetamide/sulfur-containing products, or Azelaic acid.

Treatment for Acne – Severe Nodular or Cystic

People with nodules or cysts should only be treated by an experienced dermatologist. For those suffering from severe inflammatory acne that does not improve with medicines such as those described above, a doctor may prescribe Isotretinoin. This is a retinoid (vitamin A derivative). It is an oral drug that is usually taken once or twice a day with meals for 15 to 20 weeks. It decreases the size of the oil glands so that far less oil is produced and as a result, growth of bacteria is also reduced.

Other Treatments for Acne

Doctors might sometimes use other types of procedures in addition to drug therapy to treat patients with acne. For instance, the doctor may pluck the patient's comedones during visits. Sometimes the doctor may inject corticosteroids directly into lesions. this is to help reduce the size and pain of inflamed cysts and nodules.

However, early treatment is the best way to prevent acne scars, because, once scarring occurs, the doctor may have to suggest a medical or surgical procedure to help reduce the scars. A doctor might also inject a synthetic filling material under scars to improve appearance.