About Acne Skin Treatments
There's no question that acne is common. According to the American Academy of Dermatology or AAD, some 40 to 50 million Americans get pimples each year, making acne the most common skin disease in the United States. The AAD reports that Americans spend upwards of $1.2 billion each year on acne treatments, which include over-the-counter products, prescription medications and physical procedures such as laser treatment.
Dermatologists don't know exactly what causes acne, but the Mayo Clinic notes three factors play the largest roles: excess sebum oil production, the shedding of dead skin cells and bacterial buildup. When the skin produces too much sebum oil, it can mix with dead skin cells and form a substance capable of clogging pores. Meanwhile, that same sebum oil encourages bacterial buildup. The result can be a bad case of acne.
When faced with a skin breakout, most people turn first to over-the-counter treatments. According to the AAD, benzoyl peroxide serves as the most popular--and potentially most effective--over-the-counter acne treatment. Other effective ingredients include resorcinol, which controls smaller acne lesions; salicylic acid, which helps with abnormal rates of skin cell shedding; and alcohol to fight bacteria.
Those whose acne won't clear up using over-the-counter products might want to visit a dermatologist, who can prescribe prescription medications. In a case of badly infected acne, physicians might prescribe oral antibiotics to curb the bacterial infection. Tretinoin--known best by the brand name Retin-A--can help fight pore blockages. Dermatologists also can choose prescription-strength topical medications containing benzoyl peroxide and other effective ingredients.
Physical procedures, such as laser treatments, have gained in popularity to fight acne, and many acne patients like the convenience and relatively quick results. Many dermatologists offer phototherapy, which includes laser and blue LED light treatments, and some also offer chemical peels for acne. Most of these therapies will require several sessions before you see your acne start to clear.
Each case of acne is different. If you decide to seek medical help in clearing your skin, your dermatologist will want to develop an individualized treatment plan. Regardless of which treatment you choose, clearing your skin will take time, and you'll need to be diligent about proper skin care in order to keep your skin free of acne in the long term.
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