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Understanding Acne Treatment

Prescription Treatments for Acne continued...

Azelaic acid. Another topical is azelaic acid, which comes in a gel or cream and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is more commonly used for another type of condition called rosacea, but it may help mild acne.

Oral contraceptives. Birth control pills contain female hormones that work by counteracting the effect of male hormones (such as testosterone) on acne. Their use is limited to female patients. The maximum benefit of oral contraceptives on acne occurs in three to four months. Side effects include nausea, weight gain, spotting, breast tenderness, and blood clots.

Spironolactone. Spironolactone is an oral drug that can block the action of the body’s hormones on the skin’s oil glands. This medication is not FDA-approved for acne, but is especially helpful for women who have acne that worsens around the time of menstruation.

Another common drug your doctor may try is triamcinolone, a type of corticosteroid that is injected directly into acne nodules. 

Warning About Acne Treatments

Patients taking acne drugs should be alert to possible side effects and interactions with other drugs and herbal remedies. The topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide can leave skin reddened, dry, and sensitive to sunlight. Oral antibiotics may cause sensitivity of sunlight and stomach upset. Benzoyl peroxide may inhibit the effects of some topical retinoids, so never apply them at the same time of day. Taking oral antibiotics for more than a few weeks may leave women susceptible to yeast infections.

Acne Scar Treatments

Some adults carry scars from acne. Some relatively aggressive surgical procedures can improve scars. Procedures include dermabrasion, several types of lasers, injections under the skin called "fillers," and chemical peeling. These procedures remove the scarred surface and expose unblemished skin layers. Dermatologists also occasionally use glycolic acid and other chemical peels to loosen blackheads and decrease pimples. Microdermabrasion has little effect on acne itself. Before considering such treatment it is important to discuss the procedures, necessary precautions, and likely results with a doctor. 

How Can I Prevent Acne?

Because of acne's association with fluctuating hormone levels and possible genetic influences, many doctors believe there is no way to prevent it. The accepted wisdom is that neither good hygiene nor diet can prevent outbreaks. Treatments can control acne and minimize future breakouts. Sensible skin care is recommended, especially during adolescence. The basics include a daily bath or shower and washing the face and hands with unscented or mildly antibacterial soap. 

Other tips for preventing future outbreaks include: 

  • Use non-comedogenic or sensitive skin products to reduce the chance of new lesions and minimize skin irritation.
  • Use a mild cleanser twice a day.
  • Avoid cleansers or products that contain scrubbing particles or have a gritty texture. These products can irritate the skin and lead to breakouts.
  • Use a daily non-comedogenic moisturizer.
  • Wear makeup that is non-comedogenic.
  • Avoid picking, squeezing, or popping pimples. This can lead to scarring and skin infections.

 

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 17, 2014

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