If you find yourself suffering from acne, there are several paths you can take. Getting an over-the-counter treatment is one path; however, if your acne is severe enough, it is best to see a qualified dermatologist. This doctor can give you a prescription medication to treat your condition.
Drugs will be prescribed in topical form applied to the skin in mild to moderate cases. These are either antibiotics or retinoids. For moderate to severe cases, which are resistant to other treatment, systematic antibiotic prescriptions taken orally are prescribed. Sometimes there will be a need to combine the two therapies. If you are struggling with acne, this may be an option you will need.
Antibiotics have been the core acne treatment for years. They combat different factors contributing to acne by reducing the number of bacteria present, as well as, reducing inflammation. Topical antibiotics deal with acne by inhibiting the skin bacteria, Propionibacterim, commonly referred to as P. acne population. The treatment plan consists of a six month or less period.
The most frequently used topical antibiotic is clindamycin. This is available in a gel or lotion. There are certain conditions such as, ulcerative colitis and antibiotic induced colitis, which will prohibit a person from using this treatment. The second most commonly used topical antibiotic is erythromycin. This is available in a solution, gel or an ointment of 2% strength. Similar to clindamycin, it is well tolerated, but may cause some irritation. It is also safe for pregnant women to take. Tetracycline is a topical antibiotic, which is not commonly used since it can cause allergic reactions. It is sold as an ointment in different strengths. Metromidazole is used to treat acne that is a result of rosacea. It can be used once or twice daily, and is available as a gel at .75% strength. This is also a well-tolerated treatment.
Oral antibiotics work by reducing the P. acne population, which is what causes inflammation. The treatment usually starts with a high dosage, which is gradually reduced as the condition begins to improve. These may need to be taken weeks, months and even years to prevent reoccurrence.
Erythromycin is a common oral antibiotic. It has anti-inflammatory properties, kills bacteria and reduces redness and lesions. It should be taken with food and can cause stomach upset and nausea. This antibiotic is safe for pregnant women. Tetracycline is also widely prescribed but must be taken on an empty stomach for it to be effective. It is not safe for pregnant women or children under 9 years of age. Minocycline is a tetracycline derivative, which is useful with acne lesions that contain pus and water. There are many side effects including dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, skin pigmentation change and tooth discoloration. Doxycycline is prescribed for individuals who cannot tolerate erythromycin or tetracycline. It must be taken with food to avoid nausea and can increase skin sensitivity. Clindamycin is another useful oral antibiotic, but is usually prescribed in its topical form. It can cause serious intestinal infection.
Other topical prescription drugs are retinoids including tretinoin(Retin-A), adapalene(Differin) and Tazarotene(Tazorac). Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A, and are effective with whitehead and blackhead cases of acne. Tretinoin is the most common retinoid. It is available as a cream, but cannot be used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide. It is known to produce a high occurrence of skin irritation. Adapalene comes in a gel or cream at .1% strength. It, however, can be used with benzoyl peroxide treatment and is less likely to produce skin irriation. Tazarotene is the most expensive retinoid and is a gel at either .05 or .1% strength. This is probably the most skin irritating retinoid.
There are many prescription treatments available for acne conditions that are resistant to over the counter remedies. Depending on your type of acne and its extent, your doctor will prescribe either an antibiotic or a retinoid. These should be able to help you win the battle against acne.