At Mid Florida Dermatology & Plastic Surgery we know that your face is the first thing that people see. There are four major causes of acne that we target with treatment including oily skin, clogged pores, inflammation, and skin bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).
There are five main ways to treat acne with prescription products:
- Topical 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 Antibiotics: 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.
- Topical Retinoids: 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.
- Oral Antibiotics: 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.
- Oral Isotretinoin: 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.
In order to effectively treat acne it is often necessary to use a combination of products for short and long periods of time.