Acne Treatments – All You Need To Know About Treating Acne

which acne treatments imageIntroduction

What types of acne treatments you need to choose will be greatly dependent on how serious your condition is, there are many products and procedures available to you.

If your condition is mild then there are various over the counter acne treatments or even complete acne kits available that can help clear up your condition in a relatively short time.

For more advanced cases there are various prescription acne medications available from your doctor or dermatologist and if the condition of your skin is very severe then there are surgical procedures available too. All of these topics will be discussed briefly here so you have some idea of exactly which route you may need to take.

If your attack was sudden it may also help if you can determine what may have triggered the breakout as there are other causes of acne apart from the hormonal variety, such as that which may be brought on by stress of the use of certain makeup products (A. cosmetica)

Types Of Treatment

First port of call for most people is the drugstore who generally stock a wide variety of popular acne remedies, ranging from various lotions, creams and spot treatments mostly for the facial area, but they may also have body washes and special soaps.

The most effective of these will usually include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, sulfur, resorcinol or alpha hydroxy acid in their ingredients.

Benzoyl peroxide in particular is very efficacious for acne although some people may find it too harsh on their skin and may need to try a different solution.

For benzoyl peroxide always start with a low concentration product of 2.5% or less, when your skin is accustomed to the chemical you can increase this to 10% if no improvement is seen by the weaker product after a couple of months.

Providing you stay with well known brands the majority of products will usually do a good job of clearing mild acne, but remember results are not instant so do not expect clear skin by the end of the week, it can take several months for any products to work.

All of the topical products above, particularly those containing BP will usually give rise to some mild effects on the skin particularly dryness, flakiness and irritation or a mild burning sensation, this is normal. If a product becomes really painful after use stop using it immediately.

The chemicals in these products kill the acne-causing bacteria on the skin and at the same time may dry up natural oils in which the bacteria thrive, it is therefore very important that a good skin moisturizer is used to prevent the skin drying out, there are unscented types available for males.

home remedies for acne imageHome Acne Treatments

If you are short of cash, you may want to try treating your condition yourself with a homemade acne remedy, these can often be effective for mild outbreaks but they are unlikely to work for advanced stages or severe acne.

They are included here as I know many people like to go the organic or homeopathic routes of alternative medicine before resorting to man-made substances.

Some of the more successful household remedies for acne sufferers include, lemon juice,lime juice, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, Witch Hazel, Turmeric in mint juice, Tea tree oil, diluted hydrogen peroxide, Manuka honey and Green Tea

All of these natural products contain gentle bactericides that will help kill the P. acnes bacteria that are causing you problems. For pimples and zits that are inflamed, an ordinary Aspirin that has been crushed to a powder and mixed into a paste with a little water can work very well when applied to the infected area. Find out more on home acne treatments here.

The Holistic Approach – Alternative Medicine

For those folks who may be interested in less orthodox methods of acne treatment here is a round-up of alternatives. Personally I have no idea if they work so they are listed here for your information only if you want to follow up on them.

witch hazel plant imageHerbal medicine

An anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial skin wash can can be prepared in several ways using either Calendula, Camomile, Elder, Yarrow or lavender flowers. Some herbalists recommend a steam facial using camomile, lime or lavender flowers which apparently help to promote healing, boiling water is placed into a bowl in which the flowers are placed and then the idea is to drape a towel over your head and hold your face over the mixture for about 10 minutes. If trying this be careful not to scald yourself. Afterwards flush the face with cold water or a toner to close the pores.

Chinese herbal medicine along with acupuncture are also avenues worth pursuing if you are into alternative treatments

Biochemic Tissue Salts

Calcarea Sulph is usually prescribed for skin problems. Read more about Biochemic tissue salts here.

Aromatherapy
Essential oils are used for this treatment, two drops of each of lavender, juniper and cajuput. The method is to mix these oils with distilled water and bathe the skin with it, when dry mix these same oils with a non-comedogenic skin lotion and once more apply to the skin, alternatively use Tea tree oil on its own. More info here

Bach Remedies
These are not used for treating the skin but for treating the emotional stress that having acne can bring on for some people especially teenagers. Wild oat and Walnut for emotional problems, Crab apple for embarrassment and Gorse for feelings of hopelessness. Note to self… must try that sometime :) More on treating the psychological aspects of acne.

Homeopathy

Practitioners may recommend Kali Bichromicum for chronic acne and Sulphur (sulfur) for inflamed and infected pustules that become worse when washed. Psorinum is given for severe and itchy infections. More on this subject here.

isotretinoin tablets imagePrescription Medications

If, after trying various readily available remedies your condition does not improve it will then be time to visit a doctor or dermatologist (skin specialist) to get some more powerful prescription products. There are several classes of these drugs which are collectively known as Retinoids, they are chemically related to Vitamin A and regulate cell growth.

Commonly prescribed acne medications are Tretinoin, Adapalene,Tazarotene these preparations are applied directly to the skin. You may also be prescribed topical or oral antibiotics or even a combination of different medications.

Oral Antibiotics

Tetracycline, Erythromycin, Minocycline, Doxycycline, Clindamycin.
You will be prescribed the one your physician deems most suitable for your particular case, they will advise you how to use the medication and what, if any the side-effects you may expect, these can include upset stomach, dizziness, constipation or discoloration of the skin.

Moderate and severe acne may mean you get a course of oral antibiotics to reduce bacteria and fight inflammation, and these may often be used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide products to increase their effectiveness by reducing the bacterial resistance to the antibiotic itself. Side effects can include an

As a last resort in the most serious cases of cystic acne, Isotretinoin may be prescribed by a dermatologist only.
More commonly know as Accutane this is a very powerful drug that may be used when all else has failed to make an improvement.although it has the most successful cure rate of all acne treatments, Accutane has a long list of side effects that the potential user should be aware of and some of these are very serious. Although it is available freely on the internet, Accutane must NEVER be taken without expert guidance and supervision.

Side Effects of All Antibiotics
All antibiotics can cause candida vaginal yeast infections in women with Tetracycline being the most likely to give this unfortunate effect. All oral antibiotics can also lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills.
However oral contraceptive pills. like Ortho Tri-Cyclen or Previfem can actually improve acne in women.

How Antibiotics Work
Antibiotics work in several ways. They decrease the number of bacteria in and around the pores of the skin which exude the skin’s natural oil called sebum. They also help reduce the irritating chemicals produced by white blood cells and the concentration of free fatty acids in the sebum, thus reducing their inflammatory response.

yag acne laser imageHi-Tech Systems

Blue Light Therapy, also referred to as phototherapy or heliotherapy.

Sunlight is known to improve acne and It was discovered that some of the visible violet light spectrum present in sunlight in the range 415 – 430 nm ultimately kills the bacteria.

Blue Light therapy is usually recommended to people with a low tolerance to the usual medications used in the treatment of acne skin. Light therapy devices work by targeting the acne bacteria itself killing it off with a high intensity light.

Although classified as safe, light and laser treatments may be uncomfortable for the user and cause temporary skin problems that can be likened to bad sunburn.

The Clearlight, by CureLIght Medical was the first device to receive FDA approval, since then other electronic blue light devices using LED’s have been developed and are available for general use.

Clinical studies show that improvements of up to 80% of occurs over three months use; most studies show that it performs better than benzoyl peroxide and the treatment is better tolerated, approximately 10% of users see no improvement at all.

Laser Therapy

Laser treatment for acne is very expensive and requires at least three sessions about 4 weeks apart although it could be more. There are many different types of Lasers for this type of skin treatment, the main ones are Fractional, Diode, InfraRed, Pulsed Dye, KTP and LHE, Smoothbeam and a recent vacuum laser called Isolaz.

These therapies may be uncomfortable and may cause temporary side effects such as redness, peeling and inflammation. Using lasers for the treating of acne is still a relatively new field and more research is required before its effects are fully understood.

Lasers are also used for the removal of acne scars, it is a painful procedure but quite successful in skilled hands.

For helping to hide facial scarring, the latest anti-aging creams may be used to assist in plumping out areas of the skin making some scarring less noticeable.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels may use a very strong concentration of Salicylic acid or Beta Hydroxy acid to break down layers of the skin.

The outer layer of skin is covered in oil, but being oil soluble Salicylic acid is able to penetrate this outer layer to get to the problem layers underneath, it acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps to quickly reduce acne spots.

Peeling may also improve overall facial skin texture because it exfoliates both the skin surface and within pores.

Chemical peels may be carried out carefully at home or many beauty salons usually offer this procedure.
Temporary side effects may include severe redness, scaling and blistering, and discoloration of the skin perhaps for some time.

acne kits imageSystems and Kits

In order to help you get some idea of what acne treatments are generally available without prescription the following represents some of the most generally effective.

The results are based on feedback from sufferers that have actually used the products and their honest opinions as to what that particular product did to help their condition.

Not being able to personally use and review all the acne treatment products myself I feel this system gives a much more accurate representation of a product for the visitors to this site and negates any deliberately posted glowing reviews as may often be the case with some lesser known products to try and entice folks into buying it, only consistently proven effective acne products have made it on the list.

Most acne treatment systems rely on Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, Azelaic or Alpha-Hydroxy acid as their main ingredients depending on where the product is being used, costs also vary but the majority are within reach of most people.

The Regimen Acne Kit from Dan Kern tops the list as the most successful according to my survey, closely followed by the Exposed acne treatment system.

The Obagi Clenziderm Acne Therapeutic System is also very highly rated.
Nature’s Cure is a two part acne treatment kit for both males and females, this kit is unique in that is uses tablets in conjunction with a special creme.

The AcneFree Severe Acne Treatment System also has a good success rate. The active ingredient concentration is fairly strong and may not be a kit you want to start with unless your skin is accustomed to Benzoyl peroxide.

A product specially for adults is the Dermalogica MediBac Adult Acne Kit.

Many folks have also seen success with the Clean and Clear and Acnezine ranges and the always affordable offerings from Avon, like Avon Clearskin, these are especially good if you are short of cash.

If you are lucky you may be able to find money-off coupon codes on sites like Groupon.com for some of these products. You can read the full consumer reports and compare these products here.

Treating Acne Scars

Although cosmetics like Revitol can be used to improve the appearance of scars, only techniques like surgical excision, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion and laser surgery can permanently improve the the appearance of the skin and even-out bad keloid scars and uneveness of the skin, these techniques require highly-skilled specialists to carry them out, consequently these procedures are very costly.

Enquire at you local dermatology clinic for expert advice on your skin’s appearance and how it may be improved.

oily skin remedy imageTaking Care Of Your Skin

One thing that is often overlooked is actually taking proper care of your skin, this perhaps applies more to males than females as guys are not usually worried by the odd spot or two, whereas for girls it is an emergency and a pending social disaster.

In teenagers or pregnant women acne is often caused by hormone imbalance and there is not much that can be done except to treat the symptoms when they occur and hope the condition clears up eventually.

Although nothing can be done to prevent acne you should look after your skin properly this means a healthy diet and good hydration, i.e. drinking plenty of water.

A proper cleansing routine both day and night to remove excess oil, is also important for keeping the pores of the skin clear and preventing the formation of blackheads, whiteheads and pimples which are the forerunners of acne. Regular exfoliation will also help remove dead skin cells which can clog up skin pores.
Skin nutrition can be improved with supplements especially those containing Vitamin B5 and zinc.

Cautions:

Infant Acne
DO NOT use anything at all on a baby who you think may have acne, ALWAYS consult with a doctor or Pharmacist first. If you are pregnant do likewise, never take internal medicines without consultation.

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001876/
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acne_vulgaris
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/acne.html
www.aad.org