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Other Severe Acne Treatment Options

What can be done to treat severe acne?

  • If you have large, persistent cysts that do not respond to medication, you may decide to try drainage and extraction, sometimes referred to as "acne surgery." This procedure may reduce the risk of scarring. It's important that you go to a dermatologist who can perform this in-office procedure.
  • To treat severely inflamed acne cysts, ease pain and prevent scarring, your dermatologist may recommend an anti-inflammatory steroid injection at the affected area. Intralesional corticosteroid injections work to reduce inflammation, and acne cysts typically shrink within 2 to 5 days after injection.
  • A newer therapy to treat severe acne is photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT is a non-invasive therapy that uses light treatments to destroy bacteria that cause acne breakouts. Recent studies have supported the effectiveness of MAL-PDT, a special type of photodynamic therapy, to treat moderate to severe inflammatory acne.

In many patients, acne is a disorder in which symptoms typically recur over years. So finding a treatment regimen that can be sustained over time is a critical part of managing acne.


  • Don't wait. If you have signs of acne, set up an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you will start to see results.
  • Don't ignore side effects. If you're experiencing side effects from prescribed medications, speak up to your dermatologist. Individuals react to drugs differently -- your treatment plan must work for you.
  • Watch your mood. Acne is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression. If you are experiencing any symptoms, talk to your doctor and seek treatment.

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