Skin Treatment for Acne
Acne is a common disorder that can cause a number of different skin blemishes, including whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules, nodules and cysts. You may use a variety of topical or skin-applied treatments to combat the effects of acne, including nonprescription and prescription medications, as well as procedures that diminish the effects of acne scarring.
Acne occurs as a result of the combined effects of excessive production of the skin oil called sebum, clogging of your pores, the presence of bacteria and inflammation, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The types of symptoms you experience depend on the location of acne-related inflammation. Inflammation near the surface of your skin can cause blackheads or whiteheads, while deeper inflammation can cause pimples or pus-filled pustules. Still-deeper inflammation can trigger the formation of painful cysts or nodules. The treatments used for your acne will depend largely on the particular form of acne present.
If you have mild acne, your doctor or dermatologist may recommend the use of nonprescription topical medications, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Treatment options include products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur or resorcinol. You may purchase these products in forms that include lotions, soaps, gels, medicated pads and creams. If you use these nonprescription products regularly, you may experience a lessening of your acne symptoms within a period of roughly eight weeks, NIAMS explains.
Moderate or Severe Acne
If you have moderate or severe acne, your doctor or dermatologist may recommend the use of prescription topical medications, NIAMS reports. Treatment options include vitamin A-related medications such as tretinoin or tazarotene, antibiotics and prescription-strength versions of benzoyl peroxide or sulfur-based medications. You may purchase these products in similar forms to those used for nonprescription topical medications. When determining which products to prescribe, your doctor will review a number of factors, including your skin type and sensitivity. In some cases, your doctor may choose to combine prescription topical medications with oral medications.
If your acne causes scarring, you may choose to undergo a medical procedure to restore your skin's appearance, NIAMS notes. Options include a skin sanding procedure called dermabrasion or microdermabrasion; the injection of synthetic material to even your skin's surface; laser treatments; and fat transfer from other areas of your body to your face.
NIAMS lists potential side effects of nonprescription topical medications that include redness, skin irritation and burning. Potential side effects of prescription topical medications include peeling, burning, stinging, redness, skin discoloration and scaling. If you experience persistent or severe forms of any of these symptoms, NIAMS recommends consulting your doctor or dermatologist.
Acne treatments take time, the AAD explains, and you should be prepared for gradual results. You must also use any treatment consistently to see positive effects. While using acne treatments, avoid actions that disturb your blemishes, including squeezing, popping, picking or scratching. Failure to avoid these activities may worsen your symptoms or trigger acne scarring, the AAD reports.
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