Which Acne Treatment Is Right For You?

(Last Updated On: March 6, 2019)

Which Acne Treatment Is Right For You?

A few decades ago, teenagers with acne were given a tube of Clearasil and a stern warning to avoid junk food as a cure for their acne.

Nowadays, there is more awareness as to why people develop spots and how some have more severe acne than others.

Considering that the causes of acne are not always the same, acne treatments aren’t either.

Even though the root of all acne is the same process, which is an over stimulation of oil production and hormone fluctuations, not all acne has the same severity; and not all cases of acne get cured under the same types of treatment.

Acne usually stands under one of three categories, which are the following.

Comedonal Acne 

This type of acne is mild.

It is characterised by blackheads and whitehead, which are formed when skin oil called sebum and old skin cells block the pores of the skin. Comedonal acne usually develops on the forehead, nose and chin.

Inflammatory Acne

This is when the blackhead or whitehead becomes reddened or inflamed.  It is a moderate form of acne.

Cystic Acne

This is the most severe type of acne and develops through infection in the area that has the outbreak. Cystic acne is hereditary, very painful and can result in permanent scarring.

How To Treat Mild To Moderate Comedonal And Inflammatory Acne?

This type of acne is usually treated with topical creams and gels, like Retin-A, Differin, Renova and Tazorac.

These creams and gels work by unblocking clogged pores and removing dead skin cells along with excess sebum.

Dermatologists sometimes give their patients a prescription of a topical retinoid with an oral antibiotic, such as doxycycline, tetracycline, minocycline or erythromycin, which eliminates the bacteria that causes inflammation around the blocked pores.

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How To Treat Hormonal Acne?

Teenage girls and women are prone to hormonal acne, since they are more vulnerable to their hormone fluctuating, during their menstrual cycle.

Dermatologists prefer to prescribe an oral contraceptive pill called spironolactone.

Birth control medications have the female hormone oestrogen with the synthetic version of the male hormone progesterone called progestin, which helps to balance out the hormones and result in treating the acne.

How To Treat Severe Inflammatory Or Cystic Acne?

When acne is so severe, that it doesn’t respond to topical retinoids and oral antibiotics, dermatologists suggest the drug isotretinoin or laser treatment to reduce inflammation and eliminate bacteria.

Isotretinoin is a very powerful and effective acne treatment and clears up severe breakouts in a few months.

However, it has many risks and side effects such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, liver damage, bony malformations, depression and birth defects for babies of women who take isotretinoin during their pregnancy.

An alternative to isotretinoin is laser/light therapy. There are two types of options.

Photodynamic Therapy

photodynamic therapy

A prescription liquid is applied to the area where the patient is suffering from severe acne and then a light or laser activates the medicine.

The medication destroys the bacteria as well as reduces the size and the activity of the oil glands.


This treatment uses a vacuum with a broadband light.

The vacuum cleans the pores and removes excess oil, while the light kills the bacteria causing the acne to occur and reduces the activity of the oil gland.

Thankfully dermatology has come a long way from the over the counter acne creams and gels that were marketed to everybody regardless to the type of acne you had.

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The information in this website is for advice and guidance only. It is based on my own intensive research and personal experiences, and is not intended in any way to replace professional medical advice, or to diagnose or treat any health conditions. All rights reserved.