Acne is one of the most common dermatologic conditions around the world. While it was challenging to get rid of blemishes and breakouts in the past, the advancement in medical and surgical techniques have made acne an easily treatable condition. The best way to ensure good results is to start with an accurate diagnosis.
There are multiple types of acne, and each type requires a different treatment approach. Before discussing the numerous treatment options, it is essential to understand acne and its causes.
What Is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition that arises due to the blockage of the pores in the skin. There are numerous sebaceous glands in the skin associated with hair, called pilosebaceous glands. The buildup of skin oils, bacteria, or dead skin cells clogs these glands, setting the stage for the characteristic lesions of acne (white/blackheads, pimples, pustules, cysts), which are caused when bacteria infect the clogged pores and degrade the blocked secretions.
The Hormonal Connection
One of the main reasons why pubertal males and females experience acne is because of hormones, in particular, the androgen testosterone. The sebaceous glands in the skin contain testosterone receptors. When the blood levels of this hormone rise and fall, these glands become hyperactive.
Similarly, multiple other factors like psychological stress, medicines, and contraceptives, etc., may also cause breakouts after puberty, which, in some cases, may continue throughout life. The medical professionals at Dallas Dermatology Partners have additional information on good treatments on their website provided by top quality acne dermatologists.
When To Consult a Dermatologist
While using OTC (Over-The-Counter) non-prescription medications for acne may be beneficial in some cases, they may cause serious side effects in others, like inflammation, irritation, and other skin reactions.
Without knowing the exact type, extent, and severity of your acne, these non-prescription treatments may end up causing more harm than good. It is essential to consult a qualified dermatologist for expert medical advice regarding acne treatment.
Best Acne Treatments
Whether they are topical, oral, or surgical, all acne treatments focus on minimizing the production of oil, eradicating the bacteria, and increasing the rate of skin cell turnover to promote healing. Your dermatologist will recommend the treatment best suited to your acne type.
Topical medications, including creams, lotions, and ointments, are usually the first form of treatment administered to any patient who reports acne.
- If you have severe pustular or nodulocystic acne (with nodules and cystic swellings), you may be prescribed a topical treatment with Retinoic Acid. Retinoic Acid or Tretinoin is derived from Vitamin A and works by exfoliation. Through the removal of the entire outer layer of the skin, it gets rid of dead skin cells, decreasing pimples, pustules, and comedones associated with acne.
- Salicylic Acid is another common component of these topical treatments, which works by reducing skin inflammation and increasing the turnover of skin cells.
- Topical Antibiotics like Clindamycin and Dapsone work by decreasing the proliferation of bacteria in the skin, therefore eliminating one of the root causes of acne.
If the acne is persistent enough to not be affected by the topical forms of medication, oral treatments like antibiotics may be prescribed. Antibiotics that are taken orally function similarly to the topical antibiotics aimed at reducing bacteria.
For treatment-resistant forms of acne, oral Isotretinoin may be prescribed, which is highly effective in nodulocystic forms of acne. Similarly, low-dose Spironolactone may be effective in blocking testosterone from binding to its pilosebaceous receptors in the skin.
Aside from removing the pustules and comedones of acne, cosmetic treatments also reduce the scars left by acne on the skin. One of the most common cosmetic treatments for acne is Chemical Peeling. A chemical peel is made from various mild acids that reduce acne and boost the healing response of the skin.
Similarly, various cosmetic treatments aimed at acne scars include:
- Laser Treatment
- Dermal Filler Injection
Depending on different cases and types of acne, these treatments can have varying levels of efficacy. Most of the treatments listed above show some degree of improvement by 2-3 months.