What causes acne?
When puberty begins, young people begin to experience a wide variety of developmental physical, physiological and emotional changes. The obvious physical changes include beard and muscle development in young males, and young females, with the onset of menses, also start to develop breasts and wider hips. In addition, the normal progressions toward adulthood produce rapid hormone changes frequently causing mood swings and the often embarrassing side effect of Acne Vulgaris.
More commonly known as just simply acne, breakouts or pimples, Acne Vulgaris is caused by an overproduction of the natural skin oil glands. When this excess oil combines with dead skin cells and surface dust, it forms hardened blockages in the ducts leading to the surface of the skin-these are usually called blackheads or whiteheads. Sometimes these blockages produce a localized infection, which manifests as pimples or Acne breakouts just under the surface of the skin. Of course, there are other factors which contribute to the development of Acne breakouts, including diet and genetics, but dermatologists have a great many options available to them for its treatment.
Medical research and breakthroughs
The treatment of Acne has become a multi-million dollar industry. Although Acne may seem very superficial and irrelevant in comparison to many other diseases, its effects on the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of adolescents can have far reaching consequences. The scars left by acne is one of the leading causes of low self-esteem among young adults, and has long reaching effects even for adults. Because of this, dermatologists and medical researchers are constantly working toward the development of better treatment options.
Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet” in the treatment of Acne Vulgaris because there are many different factors that contribute to its development. However, medical practitioners have been employing several different oral medications for its treatment. Some of these have undesirable side effects, and some cannot be used under certain conditions (such as during pregnancy or before a specific age) but they are often effective in controlling Acne.
Examples of commonly prescribed medications and their effects
The following is a list of commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of Acne. While these treatments have positive outcomes for many users, there are side effects which should be considered when taking them. In addition, no one drug will work for everybody, so sometimes an Acne sufferer may have to try several treatment options. It must be noted that this list is neither exhaustive nor completely comprehensive but is designed as an overview of currently available treatment options.
Antibiotic Acne Medication: Taken orally, various antibiotic medications have been employed in the treatment of acne. Research has shown that many antibiotics ameliorate Acne and are often prescribed for persistent, moderate-to-severe acne. As with all these medications, they should be administered only by a qualified physician.
Cortiscosteroids: This potent antibiotic treatment should only be prescribed for very severe cases of acne, and should only be taken for short periods of time. The metabolic side-effects of steroids have been well-documented and if taken in large quantities, or for long periods of time, may have long-term effects on the reproductive capabilities of young people. As a result, they are not recommended for most cases of acne treatment.
Tetracycline: Tetracycline has been the most commonly prescribed acne treatment for many years. It has had good results for moderate-to-severe acne. The usual dosages range from 500 to 1000 mg per day, and dosage is decreased as the skin condition improves. Tetracycline has been associated with decreased bone development and teeth staining, and therefore it is not appropriate for children under the age of eight. Due to its effects on bone development, it is also not an appropriate choice for pregnant or nursing women. Other common side effects include increased sun sensitivity, diarrhea and nausea.
Minocycline and Doxycycline: Derived from Tetracycline, research suggests that these drugs may be more effective in the treatment of Acne. Both drugs have higher concentrations in the tissues and have been associated with more effective and more rapid improvements in visible Acne. Doxycycline may cause sore throats or heart burn and must be taken with large amounts of water. Minocycline has been associated with drug induced lupus symptoms but is the least likely of the Cycline drugs to induce photosensitivity. However, skin pigmentation problems do occur with both these medications. The higher concentrations of both drugs in the tissues may also lead to liver reactions. Neither is appropriate for use in young children or for pregnant or nursing women.
Erythromycin: Available in both oral and topical applications, is a safer alternative for pregnant women and young children. It has the advantage antibacterial and anti-inflammatory treatment results, reducing both the cause and the effects of acne. Its oral form is easy to use but may cause some gastrointestinal upset. It is also a good alternative for those who are allergic to penicillin and the cyclines.
Isotretinoin: Derived from Retinoid A, this antibiotic is a revolutionary new treatment that has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of severe and treatment resistant Acne. Clinical trials have shown it to be beneficial for all forms of Acne, but there are many side affects attributed to Isotretinoin. These include severe effects such as birth defects, excessive dryness of mucous membranes and the skin, depression, inflammatory bowel disease and erectile dysfunction. There are several other milder effects which should be thoroughly discussed with a physician before this drug is prescribed. In addition, there is disagreement among medical practitioners concerning the dosage levels needed for optimum effects and the long term effects are still under investigation.
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