Although acne has a reputation for being an adolescent problem, it’s a skin issue that can persist long past those awkward teenage years. Doctors and patients alike have searched for conventional and alternative solutions to treat acne without incurring dangerous or severe side effects.
Acne occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin and sebum (skin oils). With the introduction of bacteria, a soft plug forms and inflammation follows. Acne can also leave lasting facial scars and disfiguration. Types of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cystic lesions.
Strategies for mitigation include:
- Topical Retinoids – Known brands like Retin-A, Differin and Renova unclog pores and are often prescribed in conjunction with an oral antibiotic to reduce area inflammation. Side effects from antibiotics include photosensitivity and teeth yellowing.
- Oral Contraceptives – Oral contraceptives containing progesterone assuage hormonal fluctuations that may cause acne breakouts but they take time to work. Oral contraceptives aren’t advisable for smokers or women considered “high risk.”
- Water Pills – Diuretics block male hormone receptors and serve to level out hormonal fluctuations. However, the use of water pills for acne isn’t FDA approved.
- Isotretinoin – Typically used as a last resort due to high side effect risks, Isotretinoin is an effective tool to clear up hard-to-treat acne. However, users must participate in an FDA database tracking prescription use and women must get a pregnancy test before each refill. The rigors associated with use make compliance difficult.
- Photodynamic Therapy – Photodynamic therapy generally yields positive results but typically requires multiple office visits and is often not covered by insurance.