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Choosing Acne Treatments

A Guide To Choosing The Best Acne Treatment

Many teenagers in the past have mostly relied on over the counter medications like Clearasil to manage their acne problems.


Though the main cause of acne is hormonal imbalance, the severity of it varies from person to person. Therefore it is safe to assume that not one glove fits all in this scenario.

Depending on the severity, acne can be broadly classified into 3 categories:

Comedonal acne

This is a mild case of acne that commonly occurs on the chin, nose and e. This occurs when skin pores are blocked by oil and old skin cells.

Inflammatory acne

This is a moderate case of acne. This is caused when the area below a whitehead or blackhead becomes red or inflamed.

Cystic acne

This is a severe case of acne which is caused due to an infection in the area where the breakout occurred. Most cases of cystic acne are hereditary and cause pain and discomfort.

How to treat comedonal acne?

The course of treatment depends on the type of acne and other factors that responsible for triggering the acne.

For mild case of comedonal acne, retinoid topical creams such as Retin­A, Differin, Renova, and Tazorac can be used to unclog the pores. Dermatologists often prescribe an antibiotic for killing the bacteria that is causing the inflammation.

Some antibiotics may have side effects such as sensitivity, yellowing of teeth etc. therefore the dermatologists have to come up with customized treatment plan that work best for their patients.

How to treat inflammatory acne?

Most cases of inflammatory acne are seen in teenagers and women who have some kind of hormonal fluctuation. This is kind of acne most often breakout around the menstrual cycle.

In such cases dermatologist recommend the use of oral contraceptives that have been approved for the treatment of acne by the FDA.

Oral contraceptives have demonstrated to be effective for managing acne breakouts but the results can be seen only after a period time. Women who smoke or who do not wish to use birth control pills can choose other drugs like spironolactone.

Usage of Spironolactone causes frequent urination in patients which helps to modulate the hormone and control the production of oils that cause acne.

Though Spironolactone has not been approved by FDA, many dermatologists endorse it as an effective solution for treating acne.

How to treat cystic acne?

Cystic acne cannot be treated using over the counter medications. It requires the assistance of an expert dermatologist.

Isotretinoin and photodynamic therapy (PDT) are the two types of treatments commonly suggested by dermatologists for the treatment of cystic acne.


This is a very powerful drug used for the treatment of cystic acne. It is capable of stopping the acne breakout and scarring. But it is a double edged sword. There are a number of possible side effects that the drug can cause.

Liver damage, depression, birth defect, bowel diseases are some of the many health risks associated with Isotretinoin.

In order to monitor the use of Isotretinoin, the FDA launched a database names iPledge that makes it mandatory for patients to sign onto the database in order to receive the drug. Women have to hand over 2 pregnancy tests that are negative before they can receive the drug.

If the women require a refill, they have to undergo another pregnancy test. The use of Isotretinoin by men is also monitored as it is known to cause depression in few cases.

Photodynamic therapy

In this process, the dermatologists administer a liquid on the region of acne breakout and then use light or laser in order to activate the medication.

The medication kills the bacteria and reduces the size of the oil glands. This treatment is often accompanied by a vacuum that cleansed the pores and drains out the excess oil.


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