Acne is an extremely common condition. It’s a condition so ubiquitous that almost everybody suffers from it at some point in their life.
Acne treatments can generally be divided into topical therapy and systemic therapy.
Topical treatment is usually the starting point for acne treatments, and many of these creams or gels can be purchased over the counter. The goal of most acne topical treatments is to inhibit inflammation. Anti-bacterial medication such as benzoyl peroxide is very popular. The main benefit of anti-bacterial in acne treatment is not for its anti-bacterial effect-acne is not a bacterial infection-but for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Systemic medications are generally prescribed for more moderate to severe acne. They are taken by mouth, and are anti-bacterial medications, again, mostly for its anti-inflammatory effect. For women, hormonal treatments can also be effective in controlling the testosterone levels in the skin, which have an impact on acne. This type of treatment is especially useful for adult women who have acne.
For very severe acne, a drug called Isotretinoin, better known as Accutane can be used. Isotretinoin is a type of retinoid that has been used since 1982 and has had a huge impact on treatment for severe acne. This drug is often portrayed as being an extreme example of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is extremely useful, and the only known permanent cure to acne, and can treat even severe acne that is resistant to most other forms of treatment. On the other hand, it also has a reputation as a drug that can cause severe side-effects such as depression, and inflammatory bowel disease, both with potentially lethal consequences. It is a drug that requires careful monitoring, and it cannot be used during or before pregnancy for some time, but many dermatologists believe that these unfortunate cases are extremely rare.