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Dr. Behroozan's Dermatology Blog

What Would a Dermatologist Prescribe for Acne?

For individuals struggling with severe acne, they’re not just struggling with the effects of blemished skin. Severe acne can take an emotional toll on people who are anxious or embarrassed about how they look. Over-the-counter lotions, rinses and creams may not be sufficient either to effectively manage breakouts. Because acne is genetic, there isn’t any definitive cure. Dermatologists, however, can effectively manage the condition with a variety of prescription treatment options.

While adults can struggle with acne, it’s often found in teenagers due to hormonal changes. This condition can not only wreak havoc on your skin, it can also damage your self-esteem when you’re dealing with:young man with acne

  • Whiteheads
  • Pimples
  • Blackheads
  • Acne cysts
  • Acne scars

This dermatological condition can also become progressively worse if you leave it untreated. It’s best to treat acne when you first notice an outbreak.  Below are some acne treatments a dermatologist would prescribe.

Dermatologist-Prescribed Acne Treatments

Treatments for acne that a dermatologist would prescribe include:

  1. Topicals

Topicals are medication you apply to your skin. A few include:

  • Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid (Finacea, Azelex) is a naturally occurring acid a certain yeast produces. It offers antibacterial properties. Applying a 20% azelaic acid gel or cream used twice daily can be as effective as various standard acne treatments. You can also use it to manage certain types of acne-related discoloration. It’s prescribed to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Dapsone: Dermatologists recommend using Dapsone 5% gel (Aczone) twice a day for inflammatory acne, particularly in women struggling with acne.
  1. Topical Antibiotics

Retin A is a topical antibiotic cream made to reduce inflammation and how many pimples you develop. Retin A falls in the “Retinoids’ class of antibiotics. Topical retinoid gels or creams are often first line acne treatments. Retinoids are a synthetic vitamin A derivative. They stimulate collagen production, helping to reduce dark spots and wrinkles.

There is evidence pointing to retinoids’ ability to tackle inflammatory acne (i.e. pustules, papules and zits). It helps quickly shed skin cells that clog your pores.

  1. Oral Medications
  • Minocycline: Minocycline stops bacteria and decreases inflammation. People have been using this oral acne alternative for years.
  • Doxycycline: This is an antibiotic commonly prescribed for acne and rosacea. It treats inflammatory acne (mild to severe). Dermatologists recommend it for individuals who have tried other unsuccessful treatments. It is not effective for milia or blackheads.
  • Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin is an oral medicine frequently used for severe acne as a last resort. It’s not for all people. It’s best for those who have tried other treatments without success and for those with severe nodulocystic acne scarring.
  • Birth Control Pill: This treatment is used in females only. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, a birth control pill can be incorporated effectively into an acne treatment regimen. You could use a birth control pill along with a medication called spironolactone or an antibiotic to control your acne better.
  1. Aesthetician Services
  • Microdermabrasion: With microdermabrasion, the aesthetician uses a device to exfoliate your skin, eliminate dead skin cells and eliminate debris from the surface of your skin. It improves whiteheads, acne scars and blackheads. Your skin feels refreshed and soft after this treatment.
  • Chemical Peels: These can consist of natural and/or high grade chemical ingredients that help to transform and revitalize your skin. A chemical peel will help eliminate your dull skin cells, creating smoother, firmer skin while tightening up your pores.
  • Extractions: Sometimes, the aesthetician might have to extract fluid from one of your clogged pores using a certain tool. This helps to treat inflamed pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.
  • HydraFacial: The aesthetician performs a HydraFacial to clean, exfoliate and infuse your skin with hydration. They can customize this treatment to improve your acne-prone skin.
  • Clarifying Acne Facial: This treatment combines extractions, glycolic exfoliation, essential nourishment and a purification masque to remove impurities in your skin and restore your skin back to its natural balance. It helps reduce inflammation and controls flare-ups, preventing future breakouts.
  1. Other Acne TreatmentsWhat Would a Dermatologist Prescribe for Acne?
  • Fraxel Laser Treatment: This treatment digs beneath the deepest layers of your skin, fading acne scars, repairing your deeper dermal levels and boosting collagen. The dermatologist stimulates cell renewal with this laser procedure which leaves you with smoother skin and improvement of your acne scars in about three to four sessions.
  • Photodynamic Acne Treatment (PDT) using Levulan: The dermatologist applies a high-grade serum (Amino-Levulinic Acid) to the areas of your face that are prone to acne. You’re then positioned beneath a Blu-U Blue Light after an hour. The light goes to work destroying acne that causes bacteria and shrinks your pores. The dermatologist can administer these medical grade treatments by themselves or together with one another. PDT quickly starts treating a wide range of acne like whiteheads, blackheads, pustular and cystic and papular without the need for surgical excision and without scarring.
  • Microneedling: Microneedling generates a sequence of microscopic holes in your skin, helping to fade scars, boost the growth of collagen, stimulate elastin and reduce pore size. After the growth of new collagen, your face is firmer and smoother looking.

Maintain Clear Skin with an Acne Maintenance Plan

Once your skin is clear, following treatment, you’ll still need to adhere to an acne maintenance plan. Many individuals can stay acne-free by properly caring for and applying medicine to their skin. Acne can quickly return without this acne maintenance plan.

By gaining an understanding of your skin type, it will allow you to determine which ingredients will work best for your skin. It will also allow you to create an effective daily skin care regimen. This regimen can be as simple as cleansing your face daily with a gentle cleanser to eliminate dirt in your skin and keep your skin refreshed and clean. Then you’d apply a good cream or lotion to keep your skin moist, help keep acne at bay and prevent age-related fine lines and wrinkles.

If this acne maintenance plan doesn’t keep acne away, your dermatologist will need to prescribe one of the above treatments again, customized for your individual acne problem.

The main goals when treating acne is to prevent it or manage it. If acne does persist, then the goal is to keep it from becoming severe enough where it will leave scars. At Dermatology Institute of Southern California, our acne professionals offer various customized acne treatments that will tackle acne at any stage, including scarring, and leave you with clear, smooth skin. Contact us  to set up your appointment with one of our expert dermatologists.

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