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Moderate to Severe Acne: A Treatment Guide

Explore Your Options

Some birth control pills are helpful with acne, says Kleinsmith. Talk to your doctor to find out if you're a good candidate.

Some people turn to light sources, lasers, and photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat acne and reduce scars. These procedures vary in cost but offer an alternative to daily creams and pills.  

Line Up Your Expectations

Often, people give up on the treatment before it can successfully take effect. If you are experiencing side effects you can't tolerate, talk to your doctor and you can adjust your treatment together.

"Acne can be a very individual disease," says Wolf. "No two people are going to respond to the same treatment."

Treatment should typically be assessed after six weeks and, if it's working, it should usually be continued for at least four to six months.  

"Getting the doctor and the patient on the same page is very important," says Wolf. "The patient's expectations may be that they're going to be cured in one month, whereas my expectation may be to get them under good control in six months.”

"There's no easy, quick fix for acne," says Wolf. "If you don't adhere to the therapy, follow the advice and schedule follow-up visits, you're not going to succeed. No therapy will work if you don't comply with the treatment."

Top Skin Care Tips

  • Avoid harsh soaps. Be gentle with cleansers because they can irritate and dry out your skin.
  • Stop picking. Though it may be tempting to pick at acne, it can lead to secondary infection and scarring.
  • Use sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that's best suited for your skin type. Certain topical medications can make you sensitive to sunlight, so it's important that your skin is protected.


Reviewed on April 11, 2011

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