Medications for Acne & Acne Scars
Acne may lead to permanent scarring, development of a poor self-image, or feelings of depression and anxiety, states the American Academy of Dermatology. However, you can help control these physical and emotional side effects when you properly treat your acne. Various medications help in the treatment of acne by focusing on the different causes of acne.
Over The Counter
The main ingredients of over-the-counter medications determine how they work to treat acne. Products with benzoyl peroxide help to kill the bacteria that causes acne (P. acnes), to remove excess oil from the skin, and to remove dead skin cells responsible for clogging pores, advises the Mayo Clinic. However, these products may also lead to excessive dryness, scaly redness, negligible swelling and sensitivity to sun exposure.
Products containing salicylic acid help to slow the rate of skin cell shedding inside the hair follicles and may break down whiteheads and blackheads. The side effects of salicylic acid include a slight stinging sensation and skin irritation. Products containing sulfur and resorcinol help to remove dead skin cells and excess oils that may cause swelling. However, they can cause redness and peeling where applied. OTC products may also contain alcohol and acetone which help to remove dirt and oil from skin, but may lead to mild burning or stinging.
Dermatologists often prescribe topical medications when OTC treatments fail to work. Retinoids (derivatives of vitamin A) help to prevent the clogging of hair follicles (pores). Common vitamin A derivatives include Trentinoin (Avinta, Retin-A, Renova), adapalene (Differin) and taarotene (Tazorac, Avage), according to the Mayo Clinic.
Topical treatments may also combine benzoyl peroxide with an antibiotic. Combinations of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin include Benzaclin, Duac, and Acanya. Benzamycin contains a combination of benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin.
Common side effects of topical prescription treatments include stinging, redness, burning or peeling. Acne suffers need to understand that benzoyl peroxide inactivates Retin-A, advises Acne101.org. Therefore, do not use these medications at the same time. Retin-A should be applied at bedtime, because sunlight inactivates it.
Oral antibiotics help to reduce acne-causing bacteria and fight inflammation. However, due to the ability of bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, the dose of the dermatologist may taper off the dose of these medications when your symptoms start to improve, advises the Mayo Clinic. This resistance may be reduced when used in combination with a topical benzoyl peroxide treatment. Side effects include upset stomach, skin discoloration, dizziness, sensitivity to the sun and decrease oral contraceptive effectiveness. Common oral antibiotics include oxycycline, minocycline and erythromycin, according to Acne101.org.
Acne that fails to respond to other treatments and severe cystic acne that causes scaring may respond to Isotretinoin (Accutane), advises the Mayo Clinic. This medication may cause severe birth defects when taken by pregnant women or women wh may become pregnant. It may also cause dry eyes, dry mouth, dry lips, dry nose, and dry skin. Some people have had elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels while taking Accutane. Plus, Accutane may increase the risk of depression and suicide. Therefore, dermatologists only use it for the most severe cases.
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