Ultimately, each treatment for acne specializes in certain acne-fighting techniques, so it’s important to choose the best treatment for your skin type and situation. Acne treatment is complex, but they have a similar effect on acne. They generally remove dead skin, reduce sebum presence, kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and treat acne scars. Here are a variety of treatments and acne medications you should know about to try and achieve your perfect complexion.
While home remedies have taken on popularity, there are little to no studies confirming the effectiveness of such treatments. In some cases, it might even do more harm than good considering their minimal effectiveness versus the unknown side effects they could have on your body. It’s best to follow the medical advice of a dermatologist because they know what will or will not treat the disease. Here are some popular home remedies that you should be careful with:
- Tea Tree Oil
- Aloe Vera
Over the Counter
While some over the counter (OTC) medications are effective enough to be given as prescriptions, other OTC medications have limited effects on disease. They might help for mild to moderate cases, but they aren’t usually effective on severe ones. If used incorrectly and without guidance, they might even prove to be ineffective and produce unforeseen side effects. However, a dermatologist can tell you whether or not these can be effective for you. Here are some OTC medications that may or may not be included in a treatment plan given by one of our dermatologists:
- Salicylic Acid – A cleanser with this used twice a day mainly used to exfoliate your skin to dissolve dead skin debris and dissolve plugs, so it works best against whiteheads and blackheads. These cleansers are also an anti-inflammatory which reduces redness and swelling. It reduces sebum oil secretion so it doesn’t contribute to the size of the bump and to the plug. Finally, it has antibacterial properties to reduce infection and spreading to other pores.
- Azelaic Acid – This cream has similar effects to salicylic acid, but it requires a higher concentration to do the same job. People use it for its skin lightening properties in acne scars which inhibits the production of excess melanin. Skin lightening effects were noticeably better in combination with tretinoin.
- Benzoyl Peroxide – This has similar effects to salicylic acid, but its most effective in killing acne-causing bacteria, so its most effective against moderate to severe acne.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids – This has similar effects to salicylic acid, but it has an additional effect of removing layers of dead skin to promote cell turnover. Cell turnover reduces the appearance of acne scars as new skin replaces the scarred tissue.
- Sulfur – This effective against mild acne because it specializes in removing dead skin cells and removing excess sebum. It works best for mild acne and those with oily skin. Sulfur also has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but not strong enough to effectively combat moderate to severe acne.
Prescriptions, alongside professional medical advice, are the most effective form of treatment. Home remedies and over the counter treatments take plenty of time, energy, and money, yet are uncertain to work. Our experienced dermatologists take your unique skin, set of symptoms, and medical history into account to take the guessing game out of your road to recovery. Here are some prescriptions your dermatologist might include in your personalized treatment plan:
- Isotretinoin – This is a highly effective medication that reduces sebum production in the skin. With little sebum being produced, a plug won’t form from hardened sebum. Acne-causing bacteria have no place to grow, and inflammation doesn’t happen. Although it is one of the most effective treatments for acne, it is also highly regulated for its side effects which include birth defects.
- Antibiotics – Antibiotic kills acne-causing bacteria, but they can also be an anti-inflammatory which reduces redness and inflammation.
- Combination of Oral Contraceptives – A combination containing the hormones estrogen and progestin will lower the amount of androgens circulating in the body. Androgens stimulate the production of more sebum, so reducing androgen presence reduces likelihood of acne.
- Retinoid – It dissolves dead skin layers that could plug pores while bringing new skin layers upward for a smoother look. In that regard, its similar to alpha hydroxy acids, but retinoids also repairs damaged skin and rebuilds collagen which makes it a more potent option for treating acne scars. It commonly causes peeling and redness, but a gentle face cleansing and non-comedogenic moisturizer can combat these side effects.