The Best Acne Solutions for Skin
Acne is caused by an overproduction of oil and elevated levels of the bacteria P. acnes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Acne produces pimples, whiteheads and blackheads as dead skin cells, dried oil and bacteria clog the hair follicles, the University of Maryland Medical Center says. In severe cases, acne can lead to cysts and abscesses that can leave permanent scars. Although no sure-fire cure exists for acne, a number of topical medications may help manage this common skin condition.
Prescription retinoids including tretinoin can help clear mild to severe acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The Mayo Clinic says retinoids prevent hair follicles from becoming plugged and encourage cell turnover.
Tretinoin was the first topical retinoid created to fight blemishes. Other synthetic retinoid creams and gels include adapalene and tazarotene. Topical retinoids may cause skin irritation including redness and flaking.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that may reduce the amount of oil on the skin. This natural acid contained in sugar cane can help slough off dead skin cells and unblock pores, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Over-the-counter glycolic acid products typically have a 3 to 10 percent concentration. A dermatologist can perform glycolic peel treatments in much higher concentrations.
A study published in March 1999 in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that glycolic acid peels done with a 70 percent solution can effectively treat acne and help restore skin to its normal state. The study was led by L. Atzori of the Clinica Dermatologica Universita di Cagliari, Italy.
Glycolic acid can cause skin irritation that includes stinging and redness.
Benzoyl peroxide may decrease the production of oil and and wipe out P. acnes, according to the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases. Benzoyl peroxide is contained in a number of over-the-counter products. It is also available by prescription in stronger concentrations.
Benzoyl peroxide may enhance the effectiveness of oral acne antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin. It may also cause skin irritation.
Azelaic acid prevents skin pores from becoming clogged and helps clear mild to moderate acne, notes the Mayo Clinic. Azelaic acid may also retard the growth of bacteria that can lead to breakouts.
A study published in August 2000 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found azelaic acid to be most effective in the treatment of acne when it is combined with tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide or topical solutions of clindamycin or erythromycin. The research was led by G. Webster of the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.
The acne-fighting agent requires a doctor's prescription. It may take up to four weeks of daily use for acne to improve.
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