Skin Care

Which Acne Treatment Is Right For You?

With so many acne treatment products available, it can be easy for you to feel overwhelmed by the number of choices available. Walk down any drugstore’s skin care aisle and you’ll find a wide variety of creams, lotions, ointments and rubs being sold for acne treatment. How do you choose the one which is right for you?

First of all, if you have severe cystic acne (large, hard cysts which form under the skin and can last for months) you can forget about over-the-counter medications. This type of acne does not respond to topical (surface) treatments like lotions or creams. These cysts must be treated with an injectible medication or oral antibiotics, done under a doctor’s supervision.

Regular acne (Acne Vulgaris) is sometimes so severe that oral antibiotics are used, often in conjunction with topical acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide. Again, these oral antibiotics must be prescribed and their usage monitored by a doctor, as some can have potentially serious side-effects.

New forms of acne treatment include the use of special lights to zap the bacteria that can cause acne. Such acne treatments, including “blue-light therapy,” Omnilux-Blue and ClearLight treatments, work by killing the bacteria that can cause acne. Other laser acne treatments, like the Smoothbeam laser, use heat to shrink the oil glands which promote acne. While these acne treatments can be very effective, they are expensive and seldom covered by insurance.

Many cases of mild to moderate acne will respond somewhat to over-the-counter drugstore acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Although they tend to have few side effects other than leaving behind redness or dry skin, they are only moderately effective. This is because they are treating the problem AFTER the breakout occurs, rather than working to prevent a breakout in the first place.