At Mid Florida Dermatology we know that your face is the first thing that people see. We take pride in knowing the proper ways to treat acne and how to get rid of it effectively. There are four major causes of acne that we target with treatment including oily skin, clogged pores, inflammation, and bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). There are multiple over the counter treatments available that include salicylic acid, sulfur, and benzoyl peroxide all of which help decrease the oil production of the skin. These products can help control mild acne however have tendencies to be drying. There are five ways to treat acne with prescription products which include topical benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, topical retinoids, oral antibiotics, and Isotretinoin. In order to effectively treat acne it is often necessary to use a combination of products.
Benzoyl peroxide helps decrease the oil production and helps control the production of P. acnes. In order to decrease the oil production it can inadvertently cause skin irritation or dryness. This often will improve over the course of a month, and you can use gentle moisturizers such as Cetaphil or CeraVe to help alleviate these symptoms.
Topical retinoids can be used to help control the clogged pores that can cause acne. These act as a chemical exfoliant to the skin to increase skin turnover and therefore prevent clogged pores. This product can also cause skin irritation or dryness that often resolves over the course of a month however can also be alleviated by using gentle moisturizers. These products should be used at night as it can make you more prone to sunburns. Examples of these include Retin-A and Differin gels.
Topical antibiotics are also used to help control the production of P. acnes. These are to be used daily and will often work well to decrease acne formation. Examples of these include topical Clindamycin and Erythromycin.
Oral antibiotics are typically reserved for moderate to severe acne. These are typically used short term and help control the production of P. acnes. When taking these products it is important to notify your doctor if you develop frequent colds, yeast infections, upset stomach, dizziness, or skin discoloration. Many of the oral antibiotics will increase your sensitivity to sun therefore it is important to always wear sunscreen. Examples of these include Doryx and Solodyn.
Oral Isotretinoin is typically the last treatment choice for patients with severe acne. This medication has multiple severe side effects and must be taken short term. Side effects of this medication include but are not limited to dry skin, dry eyes, muscle aches, sun sensitivity, increased cholesterol, elevated liver enzymes, depression, and suicide. It is necessary to have monthly blood work and office visits. Pregnancy is not an option while taking this medication as it causes severe birth defects.
Other treatment options you can discuss with your dermatologist that are less commonly used but can be beneficial include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and in females the use of birth control. If scarring is an issue then laser therapy can be an option. For more information or to discuss your options call to make an appointment with one of our dermatologists near you.