The Fastest and Best Acne Treatment
Acne is a common skin ailment caused by a combination of clogged skin pores, excess oil, bacteria and inflammation. Depending on its severity, its effects can range from discomfort and social embarrassment to the development of extremely painful nodules and cysts. The fastest and best treatment for acne varies according to factors that include age, gender and symptom intensity.
Before seeking help for your acne, be aware that effective treatment will take time, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In part, this reflects the general goal of preventing future acne outbreaks rather than treating current symptoms. Your doctor will also need to assess the details of your particular situation. In addition to previously mentioned factors, if you are female, he will want to know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant.
If you have a mild case of acne, your doctor will likely treat it with topical medications, the AAD reports. Examples of these medications include antibiotics, salicylic acid, retinoids and benzoyl peroxide. Depending on the characteristics of your skin, you may receive these medications in forms that include creams, gels and lotions.
If you have moderate or severe acne, acne that covers large areas of your body or acne that does not respond to topical treatment, your doctor will likely prescribe oral antibiotics, according to the AAD. Medications commonly used for this purpose include doxycycline, erythromycin, tetracycline, minocycline and azithromycin. In some cases, you may receive a combination of topical treatments and antibiotics to control your acne symptoms. If you have widespread, painful lesions, you may receive corticosteroid injections to reduce your pain levels. If you are female, your doctor may alternatively prescribe a birth control pill approved for acne treatment.
If you have a form of acne called severe resistant nodular cystic acne, your doctor may prescribe a powerful oral medication called isotretinoin, the AAD notes. If you receive this drug, your doctor will typically watch for signs of harmful psychological or physical side effects. Long- or short-term use of isotretinoin can trigger severe defects in a developing fetus, and you should never use this product if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.
You can take a number of steps to prevent acne outbreaks, according to the Nemours Foundation. Examples include washing your face once or twice daily with a mild cleanser or soap; avoiding scrubbing your face while washing; avoiding touching your face at other times; using makeup, sunscreen and moisturizers that do not promote acne formation; removing all makeup when you wash; and avoiding popping, picking or squeezing any pimples already present on your skin.
No one acne treatment will work in all cases. If you do not notice any improvements from a given treatment in one to two months, the AAD recommends consulting your doctor to discuss further options.
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