Acne is a skin condition that appears as pimples, zits or pustules that show up out nowhere and can ruin your day, night or self-confidence. Almost everyone experiences acne at some point in his or her life. Acne occurs most often during adolescence, however it is not uncommon to have acne appear later on in life in adulthood. Finding the right treatment to dissolve and diminish acne is not an easy task. Most often the first acne treatment that people turn to are over the counter soaps, lotions, creams, cleansers, or spot treatments. If these products fail to reduce or remove acne quickly or effectively then prescription acne medications that can be taken orally or applied topically are available through a dermatologist. For patients who prefer a more natural approach without any harmful side effects, herbal remedies, essential oils, and Ayurvedic medicine offer a holistic treatment method.
Traditional acne treatments are typically the most common treatment methods used at the first sign of acne, pimples, skin inflammation, redness, or tenderness. These types of treatments work in four ways to remove acne from the skin - normalize shedding into the pore to prevent blockage, kill propionibacterium acnes, anti-inflammatory, and hormonal manipulation. Some of the most common traditional acne treatments include benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, mandelic acid, retinoids, antiseborrheic medications, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, azelaic acid, nicotinamind, and kera-tolytic soaps.

Benzoyl Peroxide- Benzoyl Peroxide is the first line of defense against mild to moderate forms of acne. It is very effective and has very mild side effects. Benzoyl peroxide is nearly as effective as antibiotics however it cannot generate a resistance to bacteria that causes acne. Benzoyl Peroxide is used topically and can found in the form of a cleansing liquid or bar, lotion, cream, or gel. Benzoyl peroxide is normally prescribed 1-2 times for daily use. Always use benzoyl peroxide as directed. It may take up to 4 weeks to see the effects of benzoyl peroxide use. Side effects of benzoyl peroxide include dryness, redness, skin inflammation, occasional peeling, tingling or stinging. If symptoms do not disappear or become worse contact your physician immediately. Brand name products that include benzoyl peroxide include Acnigel, Acne-Clear, Clean and Clear, Clearasil, Clearskin, Neutragena, Oxy 10, and Proactiv.

Antibiotics- Antibiotics are normally used in severe cases of acne when all other treatment methods have been exhausted. Antibiotics come in both topical and oral medications. Antibiotics work in several ways to rid your body of acne. First, they decrease the number of bacteria in and around the follicle. Secondly, they reduce the irritating chemicals produced by the body’s own white blood cells and also reduce the concentration of free fatty acids in the sebum which also reduces the inflammatory response. All antibiotics can cause side effects within the body such as causing vaginal yeast infections in women and decreasing the effectiveness of birth control pills. The most common antibiotics include erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracyclines, minocycline, and doxycycline. It is very important to follow the directions of your specific antibiotic, such as whether your medication should be taken with or without food, otherwise this can cause serious side effects such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, etc.

Hormones- In women, acne has been improved by the use of hormone treatments such as oral contraceptives. The common estrogen/progestogen combination has shown some effect however antiandrogen cyproterone and oestrogen are particularly effective. The hormones suppress the over activity of the sebaceous glands. Women who smoke, have blood-clotting disorders, over 35 or experience migraine headaches should not take oral contraceptives without a doctors recommendation.

Topical Retinoids- Topical retinoids are chemically related to vitamin A, which is essential in regulation of skin growth. Topical retinoids normalize follicle cell life cycle, influence cell creation, death life cycle of cells in follicle lining, and prevents hyperkeratinization. They can have mild side effects such as skin irritation. Often topical retinoids can cause initial flare-ups and facial flushing. Examples of topical retinoids include Retin-A, Differin, and Tazorac.

Oral Retinoids- Isotretinoin is a vitamin A derivative that can be taken over a 4-6 month period to reduce acne on the skin. It works by reducing the secretion of oils from glands in the skin. Isotretinoin can be very effective in treating and in some cases curing severe acne. It improves or clears acne in 80% of patients and is proven to be effective longer than antibacterial acne treatments. However, due to some of the side effects, this medication requires the supervision of a dermatologist. Side effects include dry skin, nosebleeds, initial acne flare up, liver damage, depression, and birth defects.

Anti-inflammatories- Anti-inflammatories employed in the treatment for acne are used to decrease inflammation, swelling and redness caused by pimples and zits. Nicotinamide (vitamin B3), rofecoxib, naproxen, ibuprofen, and calendula are all anti-inflammatories used in the treatment of acne. Nicotinamide is used as a topical agent in the form of a gel. It is comparable to the antibiotic clindamycin and is available as a prescription or over the counter. In addition to it’s anti-inflammatory properties it also increases the synthesis of collagen, keratin, involucrin, and flaggrin, reduces skin hyper-pigmentation, increases skin moisture and reduces fine wrinkles. Rofecoxib improves premenstrual acne. Naproxen, ibuprofen and calendula are all used for the anti inflammatory properties.

Author's Bio: 

Graduated with a BA in exercise science and have worked in the medical field since. My focus is alternative medicine however all aspects of health interest me. Check out my health website!
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