Alternate Names : Acne Vulgaris, Pimples
What are the treatments for the condition?
The most important thing in treating acne is to keep the skin gently cleansed
and pores unclogged. Over-the-counter products for acne include the following:
cleansers, which should be used only if recommended by the healthcare
provider. Many cleansers may aggravate the acne, especially if the person
vigorously scrubs the area.
benzoyl peroxide, which can be a cream, gel, or lotion. Benzoyl peroxide
works by killing the bacteria that can inflame the hair follicle.
salicylic acid, which can be a lotion, cream, or pad. Salicylic acid
helps unclog pores and prevent abnormal shedding of skin cells.
Prescription medications used to treat acne include the following:
antibiotics, such as tetracycline and erythromycin, which can be taken
orally or applied to the skin. Antibiotics kill bacteria on the skin and within
the hair follicles.
retinoids, a class of medications that are derived from vitamin A. Retinoids are used for
moderate to severe acne. They work by reducing sebum production, killing
bacteria, and making skin growth and shedding normal. These medications are
generally applied to the skin. Isotretinoin, also known as Accutane, is a
powerful oral medication used for severe acne. It is currently the subject of
investigation by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, for a host of side
which are female hormones used as birth control pills. These may be prescribed
to females with acne to offset the effect of androgen on the skin.
Removal of comedones can also help to treat acne. This needs to be done with a
special instrument to minimize skin injury. Cortisone may also be injected
directly into the skin lesion in certain cases for large, painful cysts.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Excessively dry and red skin is the most common side effect of medications
applied to the skin for treatment of acne. Oral antibiotics may cause stomach
upset, allergic reactions,
and a sensitivity to sunlight. They may also decrease the effectiveness of
Isoretinoin, or Accutane, has been linked to birth defects and miscarriage when used by a
pregnant woman. An
advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration has proposed a
mandatory registry for women who take isotretinoin. The FDA has also received
reports of depression and
suicide in individuals
taking the medication. At the request of the FDA, the medication's manufacturer
has also notified healthcare providers that people taking isotretinoin must
receive a medication guide and sign an informed consent document.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Most treatments need to be continued on an ongoing basis to be effective. One
exception is isotretinoin, which is used for 16 to 20 weeks.
How is the condition monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.