There are many treatments available for acne and all of them work on the same basic premise. Reducing sebum production (the body’s natural oil), accelerating the growth of new skin cells to replace and remove dead skin cells and combating bacterial infection are all components to the treatment of acne. Your dermatologist or doctor can recommend which treatment program is right for you. It is possible to see results within 4-8 weeks and often the symptoms become worse before they get better.
Lotions/ Topical treatments- If your acne doesn’t respond to treatment from over-the-counter lotions with benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, lactic acid or sulfur as the active ingredient, see a doctor for a more potent form of treatment. These strong, prescription lotions Tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita) or adapalene (Differin) contain synthetic Vitamin A which aides in advancing cell turnover and inhibits the hair follicle from becoming clogged with too much sebum. Topical antibiotics are also available to help destroy excess skin bacteria. Optimal results are often garnered by a combination of these products.
Antibiotics- Prescription oral antibiotics are often used in combination with topical treatments. When moderate or severe acne is prevalent, oral antibiotics may be used for months to fight inflammation and reduce bacteria. Antibiotics may become ineffective if misused or over administered. The body becomes resistant to any antibiotic with too much exposure to the medication. The acne treatment becomes ineffectual, as the antibiotic is not killing off the bacteria.
Isotretinoin- If the acne is severe enough that is doesn’t respond enough to topical treatments or antibiotics; Isotretinoin (Accutane) may be optimal for deep scarring cystic acne or stubborn acne. This is a powerful medication and is to be used in only acute cases. Isotretinoin may cause severe birth defects and cannot be administered to pregnant women or women who become pregnant while undergoing treatment. The FDA has initiated a mandatory monitoring program that all women of reproductive age must participate in, due to the extremely serious nature of the likely side effects of Isotretinoin. During treatment with isotretinoin, liver enzyme levels can increase, levels of triglycerides may heighten and cholesterol in the blood can skyrocket. These levels will most likely return to normal once treatment with this medication has terminated.
Oral contraceptives- Studies have shown that oral contraceptives have improved acne conditions in women. Always discuss with your doctor the potential side effects of oral contraceptives such as norgestimate (Ortho-cyclen) and ethinyl estradiol (Ortho Tri-Cyclen).
Cosmetic surgery- In some cases, when acne was left untreated or in the severest of cases where acne has left deep and unsightly scarring, cosmetic procedures may be desired. Dermabrasion, Chemical Peels, Laser resurfacing and intense light therapy are all viable options. These procedures are not only for acne-scarred sufferers; they may be opted for plainly cosmetic reasons as well. These procedures are to be administered by a doctor as they can cause severe damage to the skin. For patients whose skin has a tendency to form scar tissue, these procedures are not recommended, as they will make the problem worse.