Comparison of Acne Medications
A wide array of products are available today to treat acne. Prior to choosing an acne product, you need to know how the products work and what type of acne you suffer from. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, patient knowledge is one of the most important factors in treating acne.
Types of Acne
Acne varies in severity and type. The most common, according to the Mayo Clinic, is comedones. Comedoens are whiteheads and blackheads, basically dependent upon whether the pore is open or closed and how the air reacts with the oil on your skin. Papules and postules are other forms of acne; both are inflamed acne that causes tenderness. Nodules and cysts are other forms of severe acne that form deep under the skin and can cause scarring and skin disfiguration.
Topical Acne Medications
Topical acne medications are applied directly to the skin and problem areas. Topical medications include ointments, creams, gels, lotions, cleansers, topical antibiotics and topical retinoids. Topical retinoids and topical antibiotics are prescribed by a licensed dermatologist or family care physician. Of course, there are over-the-counter products that you can purchase such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, toners and astringents.
Oral Acne Medications
Oral acne medications are taken by mouth to treat acne-causing bacteria. Oral medications consist of oral contraceptives, such as certain birth control pills or oral antibiotics. Oral contraceptives are typically prescribed for women to help treat hormonal acne. According to the Mayo Clinic, hormone fluctuation can contribute to acne, especially for women around the time of their menstrual cycle and during pregnancy and menopause. Oral antibiotics help attack bacteria from inside the body.
Combination therapy may be the best treatment option for those who suffer from acne from more than one cause, such as bacteria and clogged pores. Combination therapy involves combining medication, such as an oral antibiotic and a topical retinoid, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Another example of combination therapy is the use of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you are using a combination of cleansers, use only one of them in the morning and the other at night, to reduce skin irritation.
Certain acne medications carry side effects and risks. Some medications, such as benzoyl peroxide and sulfur, can cause dry, flaky and itching skin. Skin irritation can aggravate your acne. If these side effects should occur, stop use immediately or try switching to a lower dosage. The Mayo Clinic recommends starting with the lowest dosage possible to reduce risk of side effects before venturing into stronger medications. Allergic reactions can sometimes occur, especially with oral antibiotics. If you have any known allergies, alert your dermatologist prior to taking the prescription. Should an allergic reaction occur, discontinue use and call your dermatologist to seek medical help.
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