Real Acne Medicine That Works
Acne is a skin condition marked by the formation of pimples, usually on the face, shoulders or back. Medications exist for treating every type of acne, although finding the right medicine can be a trial-and-error process. Understanding the different causes and types of acne can help find the treatment that's best for you.
Topical treatments are applied directly to acne lesions to fight bacteria, inflammation and excess oil production, while systemic medicines are taken orally for their acne-fighting effects. Examples of topical treatments include benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid and tea tree oil, while systemic medications include isotretinoin, tetracycline derivatives and zinc supplements. Some topical and systemic treatments are available over the counter, while others require a prescription to obtain.
Retinoids are medicines derived from vitamin A. Isotretinoin is a well-known retinoid prescribed for treatment-resistant nodular acne. According to Acne.org, isotretinoin effectively clears acne in 95 percent of patients, although serious side effects like depression and suicidal thinking have occurred. Isotretinoin is a systemic medication that works by altering DNA transcription, decreasing oil output by the sebaceous glands and preventing stickiness of dead skin cells.
The topical acne treatment Retin-A (tretinoin) is used to treat acne, wrinkles and other skin conditions. Tretinoin irritates the skin, prompting cells to divide and die more quickly, thereby replacing acne with fresh new cells. Other retinoids used to treat acne include tazarotene, adapalene and retinyl palmitate.
In some cases, antibiotics may be helpful in treating acne. Tetracycline and its derivatives are effective in killing P. acnes bacteria, which leads to a decrease in inflammation and acne formation. The broad-spectrum antibiotic erythromycin can be taken orally or applied topically for its antibacterial effects and may be especially effective when combined with the topical drug benzoyl peroxide.
Sodium sulfacetamide is a sulfa drug with pore-cleansing and antibacterial effects. When applied topically, it reduces populations of P. acnes bacteria and helps prevent acne from re-forming. Other antibiotics that may be helpful for treating acne include clindamycin, metronidazole and amoxicillin.
Herbal and nutritional supplements may be effective in treating some types of acne. According to the National Institutes of Health, tea tree oil is as effective at reducing inflammatory acne lesions as the popular topical drug benzoyl peroxide. Tea tree oil also causes fewer unwanted side effects than solutions containing benzoyl peroxide, but may be slower to produce results.
The mineral zinc may also be helpful in treating acne in some patients. According to Mayo Clinic, zinc has anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties that make it a viable option for treating acne. It may be taken internally or added to creams and lotions for its healing effects. Other alternative acne remedies include glycolic acid, lemon juice, honey and vitamin A supplements.
Over-the-counter topical treatments are most effective for treating low-grade, mild acne lesions like blackheads and whiteheads. Benzoyl peroxide is the most common OTC acne medication and is included in many brand-name acne medications. It kills P. acnes bacteria while reducing inflammation and un-clogging pores, creating a less conducive environment for acne.
Sulfur and resorcinol are often included in topical acne treatments. They work together to reduce inflammation and remove dead skin cells that contribute to buildup that clogs pores and triggers acne. Other over-the-counter acne medications include salicylic acid, alcohol and acetone.
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