Acne affects about 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30. Most people have acne on and off for several years before their skin starts to improve. In most cases, pimples disappear by the time person touches 20s, but in some cases, the problem may continue into adult life. It has been estimated that about 5% of women and 1% of men have acne over the age of 25. No matter what your age is acne treatment is required to improve the symptoms.
Treatment for acne usually depends on how severe it is. Most treatments work by reducing sebum production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection and reducing the inflammation. Any treatment for acne can take up to three months to work, so patience is the key. Here are some of the types of acne treatments available:
- Topical treatments
- Oral antibiotics
- Hormonal therapies
- Laser therapy and other cosmetic procedures
Majority of people develop mild acne that can be efficiently treated by topical treatments like creams, gels and lotions. Over-the-counter (OTC) acne lotions and creams generally contain benzoyl peroxide, sulphur, resorcinol or salicylic acid as their active ingredient. In case your acne is widespread and doesn’t improve after OTC, you might need prescription topical treatments like Tretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene. These treatments might cause side effects, such as stinging, burning, redness or peeling. Although these side effects only last for few days, they might cause problems for those with delicate skin. Those, who don’t want to take risk with these treatments, can use natural acne treatment that are formulated using plant extracts and herbal ingredients.
For more severe acne, prescription oral antibiotics are available on the market. These antibiotics reduce bacteria and fight inflammation to improve your skin. A class of antibiotics called tetracyclines is mostly prescribed by doctors. Antibiotics aren’t recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Usually a course of oral antibiotics lasts for four to six months. Side effects, such as an upset stomach, dizziness or skin discoloration are common with oral antibiotics. These drugs also make your skin sun sensitivity and reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.
If your acne is caused due to hormonal imbalance or hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, then hormonal therapies can be used for acne treatment. Co-cyprindiol is a hormonal treatment that is used commonly. It takes two to six months to notice a significant improvement in your skin. This treatment is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Headaches, sore breasts, mood changes and loss of sex drive are common side-effects of hormonal therapies.
Antibiotics and topical treatments aren’t enough if you have cystic acne. A more powerful treatment Isotretinoin is available for cystic acne or acne that doesn't respond to other treatments. It helps reduce sebum production, prevent clogging of follicles, decrease bacteria on the skin and calm redness and swelling. Isotretinoin is very effective, but it also comes with a risk of severe side-effects. This is a reason only dermatologists can prescribe it after diagnosing what type of acne you have. Itching, sun sensitivity, poor night vision and increased risk of depression and suicide are some of the side-effects of this treatment.
Laser therapy for acne targets oil production and bacteria that causes inflammation. It can also improve skin texture and lessen the appearance of scars. Currently laser is only recommended for people who can't tolerate approved acne medications. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion can be used to reduce to appearance of acne. However, these cosmetic procedures are most effective only when used in combination with other acne treatments.