Acne Treatment Overview

By RealSelf
Acne vulgaris, a skin condition commonly known as acne, is characterized by the occurrence of pimples on the face, back, or chest.  There are two basic types of acne:
  • Non-inflammatory acne, which includes blackheads (open comedones), whiteheads (soft closed comedones), and milia (hard closed comedones)
  • Inflammatory acne, which includes pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts
The occurrence of acne is often attributed to hormone and oil production, as well as genetic factors and pore-blocking debris that affects the body through daily exposure and contact. Stress may also trigger acne breakouts.

Acne treatment

A variety of acne treatment options exist because there is no single acne treatment that works best for every patient.
Before and after acne treatment with Isolaz
Image: Acne treatment Before and After by New Orleans Dermatologist Mary Lupo, MD
While over-the-counter acne products may be effective for those who experience mild acne, those who experience moderate to severe acne often must develop a partnership with an experienced doctor to stop the acne breakout cycle and treat the acne scars associated with previous breakouts.
Accutane before and after
Image: Acne treatment Before and After by New Orleans Dermatologist Mary Lupo, MD
Accutane (Roaccutane) has been a powerful and popular acne treatment for many years, despite the potentially severe side effects the drug may cause, however Accutane was pulled from the market in June 2009 by Roche Holding, the drug manufacturer.
More information: doctors answer " What's the best acne treatment?"
Common acne treatments include:

Acne products and acne medication

  • Differin - Topical cream or gel available by prescription for acne treatment

  • Retin A - Topical retinoid available by prescription for acne treatment; may also be prescribed to treat wrinkles and age spots

  • Salicylic acid - Acne clearing ingredient found in many over-the-counter acne products, such as products by Mario Badescu, Aveda, Murad, SensiClear, and SkinMedica

  • Benzoyl peroxide - Acne clearing ingredient found in many over-the-counter acne products, such as products by ProActiv and Patricia Wexler
Skin care tips from experts

5 Tips for preventing acne

1. Dietary changes that may help include avoiding excessive dairy consumption, due to the presence of hormones in certain dairy products and decreasing your intake of fast-food, particularly fried, greasy foods and increasing your intake of antioxidants including berries (blueberries, pomegranate juice, citrus fruits).
2. Stress can be a significant factor in the development of acne so anything you can do to decrease stress in your life can help. Regular cardiovascular exercise is one way of reducing stress.
3. Any products placed on the face should be oil-free, water-based, and non-comedogenic (won't block pores). Gentle cleansers, rather than soaps, should be used to cleanse the face.
4. If you notice your makeup is clogging your pores and causing whiteheads and blackheads, switch makeup brands, preferably to a mineral makeup. Makeup should not be left on the face overnight.
5. Hormonal changes particularly in women of child-bearing age can cause regular acne breakouts. Consider speaking to your dermatologist about available preventative hormonal therapies if this is the case. Read more >>
Sources: Mary Lupo, MD; Bryan Chen, MD;  DJ Verret, MD

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