Acne can be a stubborn skin condition that can significantly
impact your well-being, but there are many treatments available. Treatment
options include topical and oral medication, phototherapy, and skin resurfacing
Acne treatment options
The effectiveness of acne treatments depends on many
factors, including your acne type, other skin conditions, and complexion. Your
dermatologist can create a custom treatment plan for you using a combination of
- Benzoyl peroxide targets
acne-causing bacteria. It’s commonly found in over-the-counter products and can
also be prescribed in higher strengths. It can cause skin irritation, peeling,
- Salicylic acid is
a common over-the-counter acne treatment that reduces swelling, redness, and
unblocks pores. It can cause skin dryness and irritation.
- Retinoids are a
common first-step to treat acne. They help keep your pores clear of dead skin
and oil, but they may cause skin irritation and sensitivity to the sun.
target acne-causing bacteria and also have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re
usually combined with other treatments. They can cause skin dryness, itching,
and mild irritation.
- Antibiotics can
be taken orally for moderate to severe acne. Oral antibiotics can cause other
side effects such as yeast infections in women, sensitivity to light, and excess
pigment in the skin, mucus membranes, and teeth.
- Hormonal therapy can
decrease skin oiliness and reduce your acne overall. Women’s birth control
pills can help with acne symptoms in this way. Hormonal therapies can cause a
wide range of side effects.
(Accutane) reduces skin oil and acne causing bacteria, and is also an
anti-inflammatory. Isotretinoin can cause serious side effects including
depression and suicidal thoughts.
Phototherapy and skin resurfacing
- Phototherapy such
as intense pulsed light (IPL) and pulsed dye laser (PDL) use light to target
acne causing bacteria. Multiple treatment sessions are usually necessary, but
there is a low risk of side effects.
- Dermabrasion can
reduce the appearance of acne scars. It uses a rotating wire brush or spinning
diamond instrument to wear down the surface of your skin. As your skin heals, a
new, smoother layer replaces the abraded skin.
Chemical peels clear
acne and temporarily reduce oil production using acids to remove superficial
dead skin and oil. Chemical peels can cause irritation and may involve
down-time as your skin peels and heals.