Acne and how to treat it
People of all ages, including babies and the elderly, can develop acne. Up to 80% of people between 11 and 30 years of age have acne outbreaks, with 27% having severe acne, often leading to scaring. During adolescence, acne is more common in boys; in adults, acne is more common in women. By 40 years of age, 5% of women and men still have acne.
Acne and Diet
Diet, as a cause of acne, has been controversial. Chocolate, pizza, and nuts do not appear to cause acne, while there is some evidence that diets high in refined sugars and dairy products may be related to acne. There is a stronger connection between skim milk and acne compared with other dairy products: people who drink 2 glasses of skim milk daily have a 44% greater chance of developing acne. White bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta may likewise play a role.
Acne treatment depends on whether you have a mild, moderate, or severe type of acne. Sometimes your doctor will combine treatments to get the best results and to avoid developing drug-resistant bacteria. Treatment could include topical lotions or gels you put on blemishes or sometimes entire areas of skin, such as the chest or back. You might also take medicines by mouth as prescribed by your doctor.
Treatment for mild acne (whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples) may include:
- Gentle cleansing with warm water and a mild soap, such as Dove or Cetaphil.
- Applying benzoyl peroxide (such as Brevoxyl or Triaz).
- Applying salicylic acid (such as Propa pH or Stridex).
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.
Deeper blemishes, such as nodules and cysts, that come with more moderate to severe acne are more likely to leave scars. As a result, your doctor may give you oral antibiotics sooner to start the healing process. This kind of 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 doctor.
- Applying prescription antibiotic gels, creams, or lotions.
- Applying prescription retinoids.
- Applying azelaic acid.
- Taking prescription oral antibiotics.
- Taking prescription oral retinoids (such as isotretinoin).
Treatment for acne scars
There are many procedures to remove acne scars, such as laser resurfacing and dermabrasion. Some scars shrink and fade with time and it often takes 6 to 8 weeks for acne to improve after you start treatment. Keep in mind that 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. Doctors prescribe this medicine as a last resort, because it has some rare but serious side effects and it is expensive.
Sources: WebMD and Pharmacy Times