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Acne Treatments That Work

Acne Treatments: What Works Right Now continued...

What about the pre-packaged acne treatment products often sold on infomercials, the Internet and shopping channels? Day says these products usually contain benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid or both - the same ingredients in the acne medications sold in drugstores.

Crutchfield says that what gives these products an edge is the fact that they come with a recommended regimen. This, he says, increases compliance, which is a essential to the effectiveness of any product. "If they have any 'magic', that's it," Crutchfield says.

For occasional breakouts - or to keep skin clear after ending a regimen - you may want to skip the topicals altogether and go high-tech with Zeno, an FDA approved heated electronic "zit zapper." It uses the body's "heat shock response" to kill bacteria and clear pimples.

While the company claims Zeno can clear each pimple with just a few 2 1/2-minute long treatments spread over 24 hours, Crutchfield says it does so for only about 60-70% of patients - and it works best only on mild breakouts.

"This is not for severe acne - it's good for maintenance once your acne is under control or if you have an occasional pimple, but that's all," says Crutchfield.

Acne Treatments: How Your Doctor Can Help

When over-the-counter acne treatments just don't seem to do the job, don't despair - your local dermatologist has another bag of tricks that can help. Often, the first line of prescription defense is antibiotics - both topical and oral, and sometimes both.

"Antibiotics work fast, so they can bring about a quick result," says Day. This, she says, is particularly true when used in conjunction with a benzyl peroxide product and a good cleansing regimen.

One of the newest soldiers in the antibiotic army is Solodyn, an extended release drug which offers a continuous but very low dose of the antibiotic minocycline. Another is MinocinPac - the first prescription treatment package that combines minocycline withskin calming topical products designed to work together.

But perhaps the most exciting new approach involves the off-label use of Oracea, an oral medication originally approved to treat rosacea, another inflammatory skin condition. It features an ultra low dose of the antibiotic doxycycline in a novel new configuration

"They dropped the antibiotic component of this drug extremely low, but at the same time they dramatically increased the anti-inflammatory component," says Crutchfield. The end result is a drug that targets the inflammation and, says Crutchfield, works extremely well for many acne patients, including middle aged women who also have rosacea symptoms.

Day often takes another "off label" approach when acne strikes women in middle age. Her solution involves use of the anti-androgen drug Aldactone.

"The results are incredible - the skin clears, there is no drying, and if you use the brand name and not the generic, there are almost no side effects and the women feel great - most say their skin never looked so good," says Day.

Crutchfield also prescribes Aldactone, and says it not only works for middle-aged women, but also for teenaged girls and young women, particularly when acne develops on the chin and jaw line.

"Acne is all basically hormonally driven, so in some young women anti-androgens are the answer," he says. Some women also find acne relief in birth control pills, which help regulate the cycle and control hormonal swings linked to many breakouts.

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