Acne - Treatment Overview
depends on whether you have a
mild, moderate, or severe type of acne. Sometimes your doctor
will combine treatments to get the best results and to avoid developing
drug-resistant bacteria. Treatment could include
lotions or gels you put on blemishes or sometimes entire areas of skin, such as
the chest or back (topical medicines). You might also take medicines by mouth
Treatment for mild acne (whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples) may
- Gentle cleansing with warm water and a mild soap, such as
Dove or Cetaphil.
- Applying benzoyl peroxide (such as Brevoxyl or
- Applying salicylic acid (such as Propa pH or Stridex).
If these treatments do not work, you may want to see your
doctor. Your doctor can give you a prescription for stronger lotions or creams.
You may try an
antibiotic lotion. Or you may try a lotion with
medicine that helps to unplug your pores.
Moderate to severe acne
Sometimes acne needs treatment with stronger
medicines or a combination of therapies. Deeper blemishes, such as nodules and
cysts, are more likely to leave scars. As a result, your doctor may give you
oral antibiotics sooner to start the healing process. This kind of acne may
need a combination of several therapies. Treatment for moderate to severe acne
- Applying benzoyl peroxide.
of large pimples and cysts by a doctor.
- Applying prescription
antibiotic gels, creams, or lotions.
- Applying prescription
- Applying azelaic acid.
- Taking prescription oral
- Taking prescription oral retinoids (such as
Treatment for acne scars
There are many procedures to remove acne scars, such as laser resurfacing and dermabrasion. Some scars shrink and fade with time. But if your scars bother you, talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.
What to think about
Most treatments for acne take time. It often
takes 6 to 8 weeks for acne to improve after you start treatment. Some treatments may cause acne to get worse before it gets
If your acne still hasn't improved after several tries with
other treatment, your doctor may recommend that you take an oral retinoid, such
as isotretinoin. Doctors prescribe this
medicine as a last resort, because it has some rare but serious side effects
and it is expensive.
Certain low-dose birth control pills may help
control acne in women who tend to have flare-ups before menstruation.
- Acne: Should I See My Doctor?
- Acne: Should I Take Isotretinoin for Severe Acne?