The main goal of acne treatment is to get rid of acne and achieve a clearer skin. If you have acne, your doctor will first identify whether the acne is mild, moderate or severe form. It is important to determine which treatment option is best for you. There are five major treatment options available for acne sufferers:
1. Topical Treatment
Topical treatments mean the treatments is in the form of a topically applied cream or gel on the skin. For mild to moderate acne cases, this form of acne treatment is usually enough to achieve a clearer skin.
- Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) is one of the most widely used ingredient for acne treatment. It is capable to treat mild to moderate acne with minimal side effects including dryness of the skin, redness, and peeling of the skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is usually available in cream or gel form and used either once or twice a day. It should be applied over the entire face affected by acne for 20 minutes after washing. It should be used sparingly as too much can harm your skin.
Benzoyl peroxide could makes your face more sensitive to sunlight, so you should avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, or using a sun cream.
Avoid contact with hair, clothes, towels and bed linen as benzoyl peroxide can bleach these materials. Wash your hands after finish applying the medication.
- Salicylic Acid
Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid that commonly used to treat mild acne such as comedones or non-inflamed acne. It is works by penetrating the follicle and unplug the comedomal from the lining of the follicle. As a result, it reduces the number of pore blockages and breakouts on the skin.
Salicylic acid is found available in lotions and creams form. Salicylic acid must be applied to all parts of your face or affected body area.
Continuous use of salicylic acid products is necessary to maintain positive results. If you stop using the medication, the pores will get clog again with excess oil and dead skin cells, and acne may return.
- Topical retinoid
Topical retinoid is commonly used to treat moderate to severe acne. It works by reducing the production of sebum (oil) and also preventing dead skin cells plugging hair follicles.
Topical retinoid is available in a gel or cream form and usually applied once a day before going to bed. You should not use this medication during pregnancy because they carry a risk of causing birth defects.
- Azelaic acid
Azelaic acid works by getting rid of dead skin cells and killing bacteria. It is available in cream or gel form and is usually applied either once or twice a day.
This medication does not make your skin sensitive to sunlight so you do not have to avoid sun exposure.
You usually need to use azelaic acid product for a month before you feel a significant improvement in your symptoms.
2. Oral Treatment
Oral treatments mean the treatments are in the form of a pill taken daily. Many of these acne treatments are only available with a prescription and not over-the-counter.
- Oral antibiotic
Oral antibiotic is commonly used for the treatment of moderate to severe acne such as papules and pustules. It works by killing and reducing the acne bacteria (P.acnes).
You will need to visit your dermatologist for a prescription in order to obtain this oral acne medication.
In most cases, Tetracycline is prescribed. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are usually advised to take an antibiotic called erythromycin, which is known to be safer to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It will usually take about six weeks to experience a significant improvement in your conditions. Treatment is usually stopped after six months to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Isotretinoin works in the same way as topical retinoids but the medication is for more severe cases. Due to this, isotretinoin can only be prescribed by a dermatologist.
Isotretinoin is often taken in tablet form. You will find a worsen in your conditions during the first 7 to 10 days of treatment. But, this is a normal and is caused by the medication pushing out the bacteria in the deeper lining of your skin.
3. Hormonal Therapy
High level of certain hormones are known as a contributing factor for the development of acne. Hormonal therapy is assigned to balance the hormones levels in your body. As a result, it helps inhibit the growth of acne.
Phototherapy is a new form of acne treatment with using Light Heat Energy (LHE) technology. Phototherapy is gaining popularity among acne suffers. It is currently being used to treat several diseases, including acne and psoriasis.
It works by exposing the skin to Ultraviolet light (UVB), more specifically green and red light. Green light fights and kills the bacteria which responsible for acne formations while the red light act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
5. Laser Treatment
Laser treatment is the most effective treatment for getting rid of any form of acne scar. The goal of the laser treatment is to kill bacteria that present in the pore and repair the damaged skin tissues.
This procedure is painless and completely safe. Generally, there is no or very little discomfort from this procedure. After laser treatment, it takes about 1-2 weeks for complete healing of the laser treated skin.