Since there are so many over-the-counter medications to treat acne, you may be wondering why you may need prescription acne treatment in Pasco, WA. The main reason is that over-the-counter acne medications are not very effective for most people. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), any medicine that is sold to the general public needs to be mild enough for even the most sensitive skin. This means the active ingredients in the cream or lotion are so minimal that they have little or no effect. You may be getting the correct medication, but not enough of it to do any good.
Prescription acne treatment is only given after your skin type and acne type are examined. There are many treatments for acne, and it’s important to get the right one. There is no one-size-fits-all acne treatment. If you are one of the majority of people who suffer from acne and get no relief from over-the-counter treatments, our Pasco, WA dermatologist can help. Prescription acne treatment may:
• Help you avoid scarring
• Control acne breakouts
• Reduce the appearance of existing scars
How Do Acne Medications Work?
Acne is caused when a combination of things takes place in your skin. The production of sebum, the naturally occurring skin oil, becomes overactive and clogs hair follicles. Added to this are dead skin cells and Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) that live in hair follicles. When the conditions are conducive, P. acnes multiplies and helps create inflammation, which is acne. Prescription acne medications work by fighting the bacteria infection, reducing oil production and speeding up cell turnover. When the inflammation is reduced, there is less chance of scarring.
How to Get the Right Medication
There are five main types of acne, including blackheads and whiteheads, pimples, nodules and cysts. Up to 50 million people in the U.S. are affected by acne every year. It commonly occurs on the face, back, chest, shoulders and neck. Most people get acne during puberty when the hormones are changing and the sebaceous glands activate, but acne can occur at any age, and many adults experience acne breakouts.
It is not a dangerous skin disease, but it can leave scars. Our dermatologist in Pasco, WA will examine your acne and prescribe a treatment according to how persistent and severe it is. Prescription acne treatments may be topical creams, gels and lotions, oral medication and cosmetic therapies.
Creams, gels and lotions are applied to the acne usually after thoroughly cleaning the area. They contain certain drugs that treat different features of the acne.
Retinoids prevent hair follicles from becoming plugged. Retinoids are developed from vitamin A, and the cream is usually applied multiple times a week at night at first. As your skin becomes used to the drug, you can start to apply it every day.
Azelaic acid has antibacterial properties. It occurs naturally in some animal products and whole-grain cereals. It may be prescribed for use twice a day, and the results are usually seen after about four weeks. We may prescribe azelaic acid cream along with the antibiotic erythromycin. It strengthens the lining of the hair follicles, stopping excessive sebum eruptions. It also blocks the growth of bacteria. Prescription azelaic acid may be recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Salicylic acid has limited effectiveness but may be prescribed for certain acne to help prevent the hair follicles from becoming plugged.
Antibiotic ointments kill skin bacteria and reduce inflammation and redness. For a few months, our Pasco, WA dermatologist may prescribe both antibiotic cream and retinoid cream using the antibiotic in the morning and the retinoid at night. Antibiotics need to be carefully monitored because your acne can become resistant to them. We may prescribe benzoyl peroxide along with antibiotic cream to help reduce the possibility of resistance. It all depends on the unique case, but we generally don’t recommend using antibiotics alone.
Oral Prescription Medications
Antibiotics are often prescribed for any severity of acne. They kill bacteria and reduce inflammation and redness. If we prescribe oral antibiotics, it will only be for a short time, usually one to three months. This is to prevent your body from becoming resistant to them. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed along with topical benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. This is to help reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance. These drugs may increase your skin’s sensitivity to direct sunlight.
Certain oral contraceptives have been approved by the FDA to treat acne in women. These are the products that contain both progestin and estrogen. The benefit of this type of treatment may not show for two to three months, so we may recommend using topical treatments for the first few weeks if you go this route.
Anti-androgen agents are oftentimes prescribed for women and adolescent girls if the above oral antibiotics don’t help. It reduces the ability of the sebaceous glands to produce too much sebum.
Isotretinoin is a very powerful drug that is only prescribed to people who don’t get any results from the other treatments. It is very effective, but it is never prescribed for pregnant women.
We also may prescribe certain cosmetic procedures to reduce inflammation and scarring. In some cases, these therapies can also reduce the appearance of existing scars. Cosmetic therapies are more often prescribed for people who can’t tolerate some of the drugs used in topical and oral medications.
Certain treatments are mainly prescribed for mild to moderate acne. Reducing inflammation often reduces acne breakouts, but these treatments are commonly prescribed along with other treatments and not as the only treatment. It may require a series of treatments to see the desired results.
Blackhead and whitehead extraction is done with a special tool. This is not the best way to treat blackheads and whiteheads because it can cause scarring, but this method may be used if they are severe and do not clear up with topical treatments.
For large cysts that have not responded to other treatments and medications, we may drain it and remove it. This reduces the pain and lowers the risk of a scar developing after the lesion is healed. If you have severe acne, we recommend you get professional acne treatment as soon as you can to avoid further skin complications and to reduce any pain.
What About Home Remedies?
You may be wondering about certain home remedies that you’ve heard may be able to help with acne. But it’s important to steer clear of these until you consult a professional. Before starting any home remedy, you should visit a qualified dermatologist to have your acne evaluated. As with prescription treatments, home remedies attempt to address acne in different ways, and you may cause your skin more harm than good if you start using a home remedy without guidance.
Benefits of Professional Acne Treatment
When you work with a dermatologist and team of skilled experts, you can be sure you are getting a customized acne treatment that is designed for you in mind. The benefits of professional treatment cannot be overstated and include:
- You’ll be under the guidance of a team of professionals
- You’ll have monitoring as needed to track your results
- You have various treatment options
- You have access to medical-grade treatments and products that are not available over-the-counter
- You’ll look and feel better once your acne has been effectively addressed!
Talk to a Professional About Your Options
When you visit our dermatologist and team at Atomic Dermatology in Pasco, WA, your acne will be examined and a course of acne treatment may be recommended. It is important to understand that there is no cure for acne, but it can be controlled. Generally speaking, most treatments take from four to eight weeks to show results, so you need to have patience when you start a program. To schedule an appointment and learn more about how you may become acne-free, contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you.