Skip to content

    Acne Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Selecting the Right Acne Treatment for You

    Treating Mild to Moderate Comedonal and Inflammatory Acne continued...

    "This type of treatment is focused on teenagers, who usually have a period of a year to four years when they’re breaking out because of changing hormone levels and increased oil production, and in some cases, genetics," says Amy Taub, MD, founder and medical director of Advanced Dermatology in Lincolnshire, IL. Taub is also an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

    Each of the antibiotics has its own set of side effects -- doxycycline causes sun sensitivity, for example, and tetracycline can cause yellowing of teeth in children -- so dermatologists will work with their patients to help choose an antibiotic that works best for them.

    Mild to moderate comedonal acne can often be aggravated by external triggers, like hair gels and makeup. "Some of these makeups and gels are so occlusive that when the person stops using them, the acne goes away," Alexiades-Armenakas says.

    Treating ‘Hormonal’ Acne

    Many cases of inflammatory acne are "hormonal" in nature -- that is, they occur in teenage girls and women, and are aggravated by hormonal fluctuations like those that occur during the menstrual cycle. For these women, dermatologists often choose to prescribe either oral contraceptive pills or another medication called spironolactone.

    There are now three oral contraceptives that are specifically approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne in women: Yaz, Estrostep, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Only pills that combine the female hormone estrogen with the synthetic version of the male hormone progesterone, progestin, can stabilize hormonal fluctuations in a way that can treat acne.

    Oral contraceptives are a very effective treatment for acne in many women, but you have to give them time to work, says Bethanee Schlosser, MD, assistant professor and director of the women’s skin health program in the department of dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. "I ask patients to give the pills at least three months of use before judging their impact. That’s when the studies found a notable difference between placebos and oral contraceptives. Many patients went on to get further benefit at about 6 months out. This is not an overnight process."

    Today on WebMD

    Girl with acne
    See if you know how to control your acne.
    happy woman with clear skin
    Triggers and treatments for blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne.
     
    Bride with acne
    Dos and don’ts for hiding breakouts.
    close-up of a young man soaping his face
    Why adults get acne and how to treat it.
     
    Doctors
    Article
    Boy cleaning acne face
    Quiz
     
    HPV Vaccine Future
    Video
    beauty cream
    Article
     
    Bride with acne
    Slideshow
    Woman applying mineral makeup
    Slideshow
     
    69x75_mineral_makeup.jpg
    Video
    Arrows pointing on teen girl blemish
    Quiz
     

    WebMD Special Sections