Three Main Medication Options for Acne Treatment

There are many acne treatment options available, and it may take several treatment plans before each patient finds the right combination of medication to clear their skin and keep acne from coming back. It’s important that each patient talk to their dermatologist or other medical care provider to be sure that any combination of medications they are using doesn’t have any harmful interactions.

Oral Medications

Oral antibiotics are a common acne treatment. They are helpful because antibiotics decrease the amount of bacteria in the skin and hair follicles. Antibiotics also cause a reduction in the amount of irritating chemicals that are produced by the body’s white blood cells. Another benefit is that these medications reduce the fatty acids concentration in the skin’s sebum and reduce the body’s inflammatory response.

It usually takes the skin at least a week to respond to antibiotics and patients often don’t see results for several weeks. Oral antibiotics are often prescribed in a high dosage until the skin clears, then the dose is reduced. The course of antibiotics used to treat acne is generally no longer than six months, but patients should finish the entire course prescribed by their doctor, even if they no longer have acne flare ups.

Types of oral antibiotics used for treating acne include;

*Erythromycin – Erythromycin kills bacteria and reduces skin redness. It should be taken with food and is safe for use during pregnancy.

*Tetracycline – Tetracycline is the most commonly prescribed oral medication for treating acne. It is most effective when taken on an empty stomach and should not be taken by pregnant women or anyone under age nine.

*Doxycycline – Often prescribed to patients that don’t respond to other medications, doxycycline should only be taken with food and is known to cause skin sensitivity and sunburn.

*Isotretinoin – Commonly known as Accutane, isotrentinoin is a retinoid in pill form that is prescribed to patients with severe acne. It shrinks the sebaceous glands of the skin so that excess oil is not produced.

Oral Contraceptives are another option for the treatment of acne in women. They work by assisting the body in hormone regulation and suppressing the production of excessive oil in the sebaceous glands of the skin.

Topical Medications

A study conducted by the American Dermatology Association found that around 20 million American people have acne that is severe enough to cause scarring, but most people don’t seek treatment for their condition. Topical medications from the drugstore are the most common treatment for acne, but prescription soaps and creams are often prescribed to patients who seek help with their condition.

Topical retinoids are created from synthetic vitamin A. They work to speed up the exfoliation process to minimize pore clogging. Retinoids such as tazarotene, adapalene, and tretinoin may be prescribed to patients with moderate or severe acne.

Retinoids are a popular treatment choice with older adults because they also reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines in the facial skin.

Antibiotics are often taken orally, but they may also be prescribed in an ointment form that is applied topically to affected areas of the skin. They work by stopping the growth of bacteria and may also reduce inflammation and help to clear clogged pores.

Corticosteroid Injection & Extraction

Scarring is a very common problem for people who suffer from cystic acne, so a dermatologist may inject an acne cyst that is severely inflamed with a corticosteroid that has been diluted. The injected medication reduces inflammation and helps the skin to heal. The corticosteroid injection slowly reduces the cysts size over a period of 3-5 days until it has completely dissolved. Dermatologist must be careful not to inject too much medication, otherwise fat around the injection site may atrophy and cause the skin to indent, or pit. It takes about six months for the skin to return to normal if this occurs.

Extraction is performed by a dermatologist when the cyst will not respond to oral or topical forms of treatment. It is vital that all instruments used in an extraction are sterile to minimize the risk of infection. The dermatologist typically lances the cyst and applies topical medication to kill any bacteria that remains on the skin’s surface. Extraction may cause scarring, so it is only used to get rid of a cyst as a last resort.

Choosing a Treatment Option

Most acne sufferers are not limited to one treatment option and it may take a combination of oral and topical medications to manage a case of acne. Doctors try to use the least amount of medication that is effective so that side effects and harmful interactions are kept to a minimum. Acne is a common skin condition that many people find embarrassing, but it can usually be managed with topical and oral medications.