OTC and Prescription Treatments for Acne

Acne equals crisis for PYTs (Pretty Young Things). Acne equals stress for the 24 x 7 busy Corporate Executives. Whatever the age – puberty or adulthood, acne has been the bane of many a failed dates and presentations. It wreaks havoc (sometimes perceived) amongst those who have the misfortune of being on the wrong side of sebum production.

Unfortunately, acne as understood by people is not too much of a problem – perceived or real – provided it is treated on time with proper medication and care.

Acne is treatable though not curable. It cannot be prevented. However its occurrence can be reduced to an extent by using various kinds of treatments which help to reduce sebum production, control the hormonal levels, promote cell rejuvenation or fight the bacteria to reduce inflammation.

Hence, in this blog post we will consider a few pharmaceutical treatments available for treating acne.

Under the pharmaceutical treatments, a person can hope to treat his/her acne either using over the counter topical applicants or topical and oral medications prescribed by the dermatologist which would depend upon the severity of acne breakout.

Over The Counter Treatments

OTC treatments are applicable only to mild forms of acne. A person can treat his/her acne by applying topical lotions, creams, cleansers or gels comprising of any ingredient such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in mild forms. These applications work by drying up the sebum thereby reducing the chances of oil collecting in pores. They also help to kill the acne causing bacteria and shedding the dead skin cells.

While dealing with OTC topical medication, ensure that you follow the cleansing process properly. Always wash your hands before cleansing your face. Wash gently and dab the water off the face. Wait for 20 – 30 minutes before applying the topical medication as even a little residual moisture might cause irritation.

Prescription Treatments

If the acne attack is moderate to severe, it is advisable to seek treatment from a medical practitioner/dermatologist. She/he will guide you as to the exact nature of your problem and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

Dermatologists use topical treatments in the form of creams, ointments, lotions, gels or cleansers to treat moderate acne. The medication comprises of retinoids such as tretinoin, tazarotene or adapalene. They may also prescribe antibiotics in topical or oral form such as clindamycin or erythromycin to bring down the inflammation and acne.

The side effects observed in prescription topical applicants are drying of skin, burning or itching and peeling.
Severe acne is also treated by combining both – topical creams as well as antibiotics. Oral antibiotics can bring on side effects like dizziness or an upset stomach amongst some people.

When the acne is caused due to hormonal imbalances amongst women, doctors might prescribe oral birth control pills to treat the acne.

For cysts, doctors prefer to add Isotretinoin to the treatment as they are the severest form of acne. They are given under observation as it causes side effects ranging from dry eyes and nose to serious conditions such as increase in cholesterol & triglycerides levels, depression & suicidal tendencies, or even severe birth defects. It is especially not recommended for women of child bearing age. It is also known to cause sun sensitivity, nose bleed and muscle aches.

Other Issues

Apart from causing trauma to the suffering person, acne also leaves behind scars if not treated properly. Most of the mild acne scars heal and fade away within a year or so provided they have not been picked, squeezed or popped. If the scars are deep or appear unsightly, a person can opt for aggressive treatments such as laser resurfacing therapy, surgery, Dermabrasion or Microdermabrasion, chemical peels or radio frequency treatments.

Typically any treatment takes 6 – 8 weeks to kick in; though this is not the norm as some might require more time. So wait for it to work and change or consult the dermatologist if any other suspect side effect becomes evident. The treatments also aggravate the breakout before subsiding. Hence patience is the key to acne treatment.