Acne Treatments

Acne - Causes and Treatments

Causes of Acne

Acne is a skin condition whose symptoms can manifest in various ways, and can typically be found on an individuals face, chest and back. In milder forms, individuals will exhibit so called white heads and black heads. More severe forms of acne include pustules and cysts. There are various types of topical treatments for acne depending on the type of acne an individual suffers from. There are also oral antibiotics but these are not usually the front line treatment. You can find out more about the causes of acne at the NHS Choices website.

Acne often causes psychological distress, especially if it is long lasting. It cannot be cured, but appropriate treatment may help with the management of acne. The effectiveness of the treatment, and the time it will take before results are seen varies depending on the type of acne an individual has. The topical treatments that are currently available in the UK include benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids, topical antibiotics and. azelaic acid. Each of these are discussed below.

Topical Treatments for Acne

  • Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide treatments can be found in various lotions, creams and gels and are available without prescription in lower dosages. It works by reducing inflammation, targeting and destroying the bacteria on the skin that leads to filled follicles becoming infected. In addition to that, Benzoyl peroxide prevents hair follicles from being plugged by dead skin.

Generally a six-week treatment of Benzoyl peroxide is sufficient to reduce most of the acne. After that, most individuals are advised to keep using the treatment in lower dosages to prevent the return of acne.

Some common side effects of the treatment include dry, red and itching skin. However, these are not long lasting and tend to disappear once the treatment is completed.

More information on Benzolyl Peroxide can be found here.

  • ¬†Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids include isotretinoin, tretinoin and adapalene, and can be found in gels and creams. It is believed their active ingredients reduce the production of sebum whilst also preventing hair follicles from being plugged by dead skin cells. The main strength of this type of treatment is the ability to unplug blocked pores.

Like benzyl peroxide, topical retinoids are typically prescribed for 6-week courses, which should suffice to minimise most of the acne. After the treatment is complete some clinicians prescribe lower dosages of topical retinoids to help maintain the results from the initial treatment.

One common side effect is mild irritation of the skin in the beginning of the treatment. In some cases the acne becomes worse before it improves.

Here is a great resource on topical retinoids and other acne information.

  • Topical antibiotics

Topical antibiotics come in the form of lotion or gel. They work by targeting and destroying the bacteria on the skin that often infects plugged hair follicles.  However, unlike retoinds and benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics are not very effective in unblocking blocked pores.

In order to avoid skin bacteria developing resistance to antibiotic treatments, the topical antibiotics are typically only prescribed for a maximum of eight weeks. Some common side effects of this treatment range from minor skin irritations to red, peeling skin.

  • Azelaic acid

Individuals who have had adverse reactions to common acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide and topical retinoids often get prescribed azelaic acid. Azealic acid can be prescribed in the form of lotion or gel, and tends to be recommended for daily use.

It works by reducing inflammation and unblocking pores and is known for eliminating dead skin that is on the surface of healthy skin.

Azelaic acid is known for mild side effects, such as dry and itchy skin. Some individuals experience a burning or stinging skin and are often recommended to lower their dosage to once a day rather than the standard twice a day prescription. More information on azelaic acid can be found here.

When will results be seen

It is recommended that individuals use the prescribed treatments for at least six weeks before stopping the treatment. According to experts, most results begin to show after approximately four weeks.

Getting the Right Treatment

It is essential that you speak to a doctor about acne as it needs careful assessment. If you have acne that is scarring then you really need to see a dermatologist. There is a whole range of treatment options and it is really about finding the one that works for you. If you go to this website then you can actually get a free consultation for acne and they provide access to prescription only treatments, if that is going to be the appropriate course of action. You can get a photo upload diagnosis if required or the website doctors can give you a repeat prescription for your normal acne medications. There does not appear to be any other UK based website providing this free online assessment.