Acne is a common skin condition that can affect anyone. It starts when your hair follicles get clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria.
Doctors can treat acne with a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and medical procedures. For severe cases, doctors may use steroid injections to reduce swelling and remove cysts.
Acne is a skin disease that occurs when pores become blocked with oil, dirt and dead skin cells. This causes whiteheads, blackheads and pimples (also called zits). There are several different treatments for acne, including topical medications, oral medications, medical procedures, and lifestyle changes.
Topical medications include creams, lotions, gels, and face wash that contain active ingredients to treat blemishes or reduce the appearance of them. They work by reducing inflammation, clearing away bacteria, and drying out excess oils that can clog pores.
A common over-the-counter treatment is a gel or cream that contains benzoyl peroxide. This medication kills the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, and helps to dry up the excess sebum that can clog pores. It can also help to clear up redness and irritation from acne. It should be applied to the affected areas of your skin twice a day after washing it with water.
Another common over-the-counter treatment is retinoid creams, which contain tretinoin or adapalene. These retinoids can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by removing dead skin cells from your skin. They can also reduce the number of hair follicles that become blocked with oil and dead skin cells.
Some retinoids have an antibiotic component that helps to decrease the amount of bacteria in your skin. You can apply this medication to your skin once a day before you go to bed, and it should be applied to all of the parts of your face that have acne. You may need to use it for a few weeks before your symptoms clear up.
If your acne is particularly severe, you should talk to your GP about prescription medication. Your GP can recommend an antibiotic tablet, a topical medicine and sometimes a drug that can reduce inflammation of the skin (adapalene).
Prescription tretinoin is usually used in combination with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. The tretinoin helps to remove dead skin cells from your skin, while the benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid help to reduce inflammation of your skin. This combination can help to clear up your acne and prevent it from coming back.
If topical medications aren’t working for you, or if your acne is particularly severe, your doctor may recommend oral medications to help clear up your skin. You’ll usually start on a low dose, then work up to a higher one as your skin improves.
Oral antibiotics are the most common type of oral medication used to treat moderate, severe or persistent acne. They can be an effective treatment but you need to take them with caution as bacteria can develop resistance to these drugs. They should be taken in conjunction with a topical medication, and you’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
The American Academy of Dermatology encourages the use of antibiotics for treating acne. They’re effective in reducing inflammation and preventing infections and have a low risk of side effects.
You should talk to your dermatologist about what types of antibiotics are right for you, because each type has different benefits and side effects. Some antibiotics can cause birth defects, so they’re not often used in pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, your doctor may recommend an alternative oral medication or topical treatment to keep your baby safe.
Another option to consider is a cortisone shot, which can help reduce redness and inflammation from pimples. It works by causing a small depression on the skin, but it’s not a long-term solution and should be used only for severe breakouts.
Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can also be effective in reducing breakouts in some women. They lower the effect of androgen hormones, which can contribute to oil gland secretions that trigger inflammatory lesions.
Occasionally, doctors will prescribe a medication called spironolactone, which can help reduce hormonal breakouts by balancing sebum production in the skin. It is mainly recommended for women who have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome or menopause, but you can also ask your GP for a prescription of a combination pill containing synthetic forms of oestrogen and progesterone if you’re experiencing breakouts during menstruation or pregnancy.
Other oral medications include isotretinoin, which can be very effective in clearing up severe acne. It’s an oral retinoid that’s similar to those you might find in topical treatments like Differin gel, and it can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies. It’s a bit more expensive than other products, but it can be worth it if you have extremely stubborn or severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments.
If topical and oral medications aren’t effective, your doctor may suggest a medical procedure as part of your acne treatment. These procedures can help reduce inflammation and blemishes, as well as promote skin healing.
The types of medical procedures that your doctor may recommend for acne treatment are as follows:
First, topical medications (also known as creams and lotions) can be used to reduce redness, swelling, and dilated pores. These treatments also help prevent bacteria from multiplying, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the production of new skin cells.
Second, certain oral medications (including antibiotics and hormonal treatments) can be used to treat mild or moderate acne that doesn’t respond to topical medications. Oral medications, such as doxycycline or minocycline, can be taken for up to 4 to 6 months.
Third, your doctor may suggest a chemical peel to resurface and exfoliate the skin. A dermatologist will select a type of chemical peel that is best for your skin condition and the size of your blemishes.
Fourth, your doctor may recommend cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to treat blemishes and reduce inflammation. This is a noninvasive, minimally invasive treatment that’s safe for most people and can be done in the office or at home.
Fifth, your doctor may prescribe an injection that can reduce the size of a cyst or nodule. This procedure is especially useful for reducing the size of large and painful cysts or nodules that haven’t responded to other treatment options.
Sixth, your doctor may recommend laser and light-based therapies to help reduce blemishes and other skin symptoms. These techniques can also be used to treat scars that are left from previous blemishes.
Finally, your doctor might recommend extraction of a blemish before you begin a medication regimen to avoid the risk of causing scarring. This is often done safely and effectively by a trained dermatologist with a special instrument that doesn’t damage the skin or cause scarring.
Acne can be a debilitating and disfiguring condition that affects almost all teenagers. It can leave a lasting impact on your self-esteem and quality of life.
Changing your lifestyle as part of your acne treatment may help you to achieve clearer skin and reduce the number of breakouts. This can be a great way to treat this common skin problem, especially when it’s severe or when other treatments don’t work.
For example, if you are currently eating foods that cause your blood sugar to rise quickly, such as white bread, pasta, corn flakes, puffed rice, potato chips, doughnuts or sugary drinks like milkshakes, you should try a diet low in these high-glycemic carbohydrates for at least 12 weeks, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Research shows that people who follow this type of diet have less acne than those who consume more refined sugar.
A good diet can also help you to fight off other health problems. A healthy diet is filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. It should be low in saturated fats, sodium and added sugars, and high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Another important part of a healthy diet is getting enough vitamin D, which helps to prevent inflammation and improves your immune system, so it’s important to get enough sunlight. If you’re not sure if you are getting enough, consult your doctor or dermatologist for advice.
It can also be helpful to keep a food diary. This will help you to identify the causes of your breakouts and how they relate to dietary changes. It’s also a good idea to check with your doctor or dermatologist about whether or not you should consider taking medications or making dietary changes.
Eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids can also help to improve your acne condition. These include nuts, blueberries and avocados. These foods are packed with antioxidants that can help to protect the skin from free radicals and inflammation, so they may be particularly beneficial for those suffering from acne.
It’s also a good idea to avoid dairy, which can worsen acne in some cases. Milk products such as yogurt, ice cream and cheese can contain hormones that can increase the production of sebum. This excess sebum can clog pores and cause more acne.