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The Best Acne Treatments Recommended by Doctors

The Best Acne Treatments Recommended by Doctors

Acne can be more than an occasional embarrassment. For many people, it's a fact of daily life. Chronic acne often reduces sufferers to taxing daily regimens of pimple popping, camouflaging and ointment dabbing---all done in the quest for clearer skin. Most of the best acne treatments recommended by doctors are affordable over-the-counter products, though some require a prescription.

Topical Treatment

The first line of treatment for most acne problems is topical ointments, gels and solutions, according to physician members of the American Association of Dermatology. These products, available over the counter or in stronger prescription formulas, contain proven acne-fighting ingredients including benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, antibiotics or retinoids. These medications basically work two ways: They reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, and they help keep skin pores free from the built-up debris that causes swelling and inflammation. Always apply topical products about 10 to 15 minutes after gently cleansing the skin as any additional moisture can cause irritation.

Oral Antibiotics

Considered a standard in the treatment of more serious acne, oral antibiotics are prescribed by dermatologists to control the growth of the acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes, says the American Association of Dermatologists. This treatment is especially appropriate for widespread acne breakouts; since oral antibiotics work systemically, they are capable of treating larger affected areas. The dermatologist might prescribe oral antibiotics with topical medications if acne is particularly severe. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics for acne include tetracycline, doxycycline, amoxicillin, minocycline and erythromycin.

Birth Control Pills

Acne outbreaks often have a hormonal component, says the National Institutes of Health. Therefore birth control pills are commonly prescribed by dermatologists for some female sufferers. Some of these medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for acne treatment. Birth control pills, however, are an effective treatment only for acne that is hormonally influenced.

Steroid Injections

Despite some product claims of overnight skin clearing, the quickest treatment for sizable, painful lesions is corticosteroid injection. The American Association of Dermatologists says these injections, delivered directly into the lesion, help to rapidly reduce swelling and inflammation.


When a dermatologist prescribes isotretinoin, he is taking out the big guns to treat the most severe of all acne problems. The FDA has approved this one medication only for the treatment of nodular cystic acne, a condition typically resistant to all other treatment methods. Dermatologists consider isotretinoin the strongest of all acne treatments, according to the American Association of Dermatologists, as it addresses a multitude of acne contributors, namely inflammation, oil production, blocked follicles and reduction of P. acnes. Because this medication has the potential to cause serious and debilitating birth defects, treatment is strictly monitored and female acne patients are required by law to use two forms of contraception while on isotretinoin.

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