Acne is treated in many ways depending on the severity. Mild to moderate acne cases can be treated with home-made remedies and over-the-counter lotions and creams. Moderate to severe cases are usually treated with prescription medications. The treatments target problems associated with acne such as overproduction of sebum, bacteria, dilation of follicles.
Prescription treatments contain active ingredients, usually at appreciable concentrations that may cause adverse effects. Although some of them can be obtained without a prescription online, it is advisable to use them under the direction of qualified doctors. Prescription treatments can be taken in a variety of ways; orally, as injectibles or applied topically. Topical treatments are usually in the form of creams, lotions and gels.
A normally prescribed treatment for inflammatory acne such as cysts and nodules are intraleional injections of corticosteroids. In this case, a dilute solution of cortisone is injected directly into the lesion. This is used for inflammatory acne such as nodules and cysts. It helps to reduce the infection and prevent scarring. Contraindications for this injection include tissue atrophy and concomitant sepsis.
Antibiotics are prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe acne. They fight inflammation by inhibiting bacterial growth or killing bacteria. Among these are erythromycin, tetracycline and its derivatives such as doxycycline. These are taken orally as the only medication or in conjunction with creams or lotions.
The creams and lotions prescribed for the treatment of acne are of two categories. They have antimicrobial properties or participate in the growth of epithelial cells. Topical antimicrobials work the same way as antibiotics, except that they are applied directly to the skin. In fact, some topical antimicrobial creams contain antibiotics as active ingredients. Examples of topical microbials are azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin and erythromycin.
Retinoids participate in the growth of epithelial cells. These chemicals are chemically related to vitamin A. Examples of retinoids are isotretinoin, tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene. Isotretinoin can be taken orally as a medicine. It is used to treat severe cases of acne, especially when other treatments fail. It has been found to cause birth defects when it is used by pregnant women, in addition to other side effects. The drug reduces sebum production but its mode of operation is not known. Most retinoids used in the treatment of acne are applied topically. In addition to its oral use, isotretinoin is an active ingredient in creams at a concentration of 5%. Other topical retinoids are tretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene.
Over-the-counter treatments are generally in the form of creams, lotions, gels and liquids containing certain active ingredients. These active ingredients are normally in low concentrations thus limiting the risk of unwanted side effects. Creams based on benzoyl oxide are widely used for treatment. Some lotions contain alcohol and acetone. Alcohol has antimicrobial properties while acetone reduces the skin's smoothness. A common active ingredient is resorcinol, which is known to have antiseptic and disinfectant properties. One of the organically derived active ingredients in creams is salicylic acid. It has antimicrobial properties, causing excretion of the skin and acts as an astringent. Sulfur, an essential component of living cells that acts as an antibacterial agent, is also a common constituent of anti-acne lotions.