Thursday, May 15, 2008


Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. Acne plagues teens—more than 85% experience at least a mild form of this condition. Severe cases can be both emotionally and physically scarring. Most people outgrow acne by their early 20s, but some people, especially women, have acne into their 40s or 50s.

What are the symptoms of acne?
Clogged pores lead to pimples, whiteheads, or blackheads. These blemishes can appear on the face, neck, shoulders, back, or chest. Pimples that are large and deep are called cystic lesions. Cystic lesions can cause painful infections and can lead to scarring.

Acne treatment depends on whether you have a mild, moderate, or severe form. Sometimes your doctor will combine treatments to get the best results and to avoid developing drug-resistant bacteria. Treatment could include lotions or gels you put on blemishes or sometimes entire areas of skin, such as the chest or back (topical medications). You might also take medications by mouth (oral medications).

Mild acne

Treatment for mild acne (whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples) may include:

Gentle cleansing with a mild soap (such as Dove or Neutrogena).
Applying benzoyl peroxide (such as Benoxyl, Benzac, or Clearasil).
Applying salicylic acid (such as Clearasil, Propa pH, or Stri-Dex).
If these treatments do not work, you may want to see your doctor. Your doctor can give you a prescription for stronger lotions or creams. You may try an antibiotic lotion. Or you may try a lotion with medicine that helps to unplug your pores.

Moderate to severe acne

Sometimes acne needs treatment with stronger medications or a combination of therapies. Deeper blemishes, such as nodules and cysts, are more likely to leave scars. As a result, your doctor may give you oral antibiotics sooner to start the healing process. Inflammatory acne may need a combination of several therapies. Treatment for moderate to severe acne may include:

Applying benzoyl peroxide.
Draining of large pimples and cysts by a health professional.
Applying prescription antibiotic gels, creams, or lotions.
Applying prescription retinoids.
Applying azelaic acid.
Taking prescription oral antibiotics.
Taking prescription oral retinoids (such as Accutane).

Treatment for acne scars, Treatment may improve and even remove acne scars. Sometimes a combination of treatments works best. These treatments include:

Collagen injections, which smooth the skin by plumping the skin under the scar.
Dermabrasion, which uses a whirling wire brush to skim off scar tissue.
Laser resurfacing, which uses a carefully controlled laser to burn away scar tissue.
Chemabrasion, which uses chemicals to peel away top layers of skin.

What To Think About
Most treatments for acne take time. It often takes 6 to 8 weeks for acne to improve after you start treatment.

Some treatments may cause acne to get worse before it gets better.

If your acne still hasn't improved after several tries with other treatment, your doctor may recommend that you take an oral retinoid, such as isotretinoin (Accutane). Doctors prescribe this medication as a last resort, because it has some rare but serious side effects and is expensive.
Certain low-dose birth control pills may help control acne in women who tend to have flare-ups before menstruation.



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