Inflamed Skin Acne Medication
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, and close to 100 percent of Americans will suffer from acne at some point, generally when they are in their teen years or 20s, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Fortunately, there are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can help the inflamed skin that results from bad acne.
It's not clear exactly what causes acne, but the AAD has fingered four potential culprits: excess oil produced in the glands of the skin, overgrowth of bacteria, clogged pores and inflammation resulting from infection. A small amount of inflammation indicates the infection and blockage is close to the surface of the skin. If inflamed skin is widespread, the infection is deeper.
To target the inflamed skin in a bad case of acne, you need to address the infection, dermatologists say. The medications available over-the-counter and by prescription generally have anti-microbial properties that help to kill the acne-causing bacteria. Prescription medication generally is more potent than what's available over-the-counter, and up to 40 percent of patients with acne would benefit from consulting with their dermatologist, the AAD says.
Over-the-counter products available often include benzoyl peroxide, which works to reduce bacteria and remove dead skin cells. Salicylic acid, another common ingredient in acne medications, helps to improve inflamed skin by unclogging pores but must be used consistently to be effective.
Prescription medications include topical medication that includes both benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics, along with other bacteria-killing ingredients. Oral medications also are available to target the inflamed skin of acne. These include oral antibiotics and isotretinoin, a synthetic derivative of vitamin A. Patients also report relief from acne by taking oral contraceptives, which work to decrease oil production in the skin.
Isotretinoin is the treatment of choice for severe inflamed skin from acne because it is the only drug available that targets all four causes of acne, and it can cure acne permanently with one course of therapy, according to the AAD. However, it carries some serious side effects, including a risk of severe birth defects in pregnant women, chest and bone pain, difficulty swallowing, nausea and depression. Therefore, dermatologists reserve isotretinoin for carefully selected patients who cannot clear up their acne with another medication.
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