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Commonly Used Medications for Acne

Commonly Used Medications for Acne Commonly Used Medications for Acne Commonly Used Medications for Acne

Acne sufferers usually start with topical preparations to fight their pimples. Sometimes these creams, gels and lotions don't work well enough, even at prescription strength. There are oral medication options to take the fight against acne to the next level for the most stubborn cases.


Nearly 8 out of every 10 teenagers gets acne, according to the Nemours health network, and the problem can hang on into adulthood. Acne's main cause is plugged hair follicles, but bacteria growth can contribute to the problem. Doctors may prescribe a course of antibiotics for persistent acne, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states. The dose usually starts out strong, then is tapered off as the condition improves. The treatment generally lasts six months, and oral antibiotics can be used in conjunction with topical remedies.


Cystic acne is a severe form of the skin condition that often requires medication treatment. The AAD explains that a medication called isotretinoin is often used by cystic acne sufferers. it is a synthetic form of vitamin A, known as a retinoid. It is considered the most effective treatment because it works on every causal factor for acne. It reduces oil production, kills bacteria, reduces inflammation and helps prevent skin pore clogs, and its effects may last for several years. The AAD warns it can have dangerous side effects and increase suicidal tendencies in some patients, so its use must be carefully monitored by a doctor.

Birth Control Pills

Women's acne is often linked to their menstrual cycle because hormonal fluctuations can trigger pimple growth. Female patients who want to fight acne and who do not wish to get pregnant can use birth control pills for a dual purpose. They will act as a contraceptive and also lessen or stop the acne. The AAD warns that women over age 35, those who smoke and migraine sufferers should be cautious about using this treatment because birth control pills can increase certain health risks for them.


Cortisone is sometimes used for cystic acne, but it is injected rather than being taken orally. The ADA explains it is usually an option for people with cystic acne who wish to prevent scarring. The cysts can rupture if they are not treated, leaving an unsightly permanent mark. Interlesional corticosteroid injections will break down cysts in about three to five days, eliminating the possibility of a rupture.

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