The Truth About 13 Top Acne Treatments
Do you suffer from acne? One of the most common questions we are asked is, “what is the best acne treatment?” To tackle this issue, we reviewed some of the top acne treatments.
Trying to banish acne is something most men and women have experienced at some point in their life, especially when it comes to adult acne.
There are many over the counter treatments, but they tend to fall short. The sad part is, many of the treatments contain ingredients that can even make acne worse. Have you ever noticed when you begin using a new acne product, your skin feels overly dry and irritated? This is because many over the counter acne treatments contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid that work by drying the skin.
Prescription treatments, like Accutane, can be very effective in treating acne. But, they may have side effects. Make no mistake: the side effects can be very serious. For example, while Accutane is very effective in treating severe acne, it is also associated with depression and other problems.
And, if you’re over 30 and still experience acne… You are not alone. Adult acne affects up to 50% of women over the age of 30. While teenage acne is usually occurs on the forehead, nose, chin, adult acne occurs on the jaw line, cheeks or neck.
If you’re wondering which acne treatments are most effective, keep reading.
#1 Lifestyle and Environment
What if I told you that spending ten minutes in the sun each day can have a profound effect on your skin. Seriously. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the leading causes of acne. Why? Vitamin D is an important factor in regulating the immune system. With a compromised immune system, the body reacts with acne-producing bacteria.
Don’t touch your face. You hands contain bacteria and germs that can transfer to your face. Another things you can do, wipe your cell phone regularly with a sanitizer.
#2 Tweak Your Diet
In truth, what you eat can have far more impact on mild to moderate acne than most over the counter acne treatments.
Eat foods that fight inflammation: fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish or fish oil supplements, and olive oil. Do not eat junk or fast food. Avoid refined and processed foods. Minimize saturated and Trans fats. Limit dairy consumption. Avoid sugar. (Not only is it inflammatory, but it is also known to increase oil production.)
When gut flora is not happy, you will experience breakouts. (Probiotics can help you keep a healthy gut.)
#3 Skin Care Products
Start with a gentle cleanser that is specifically designed to remove acne-causing bacteria and excess oil production. Take a look at the Cetaphil DermaControl Oil-Control Foam Wash, for example. It’s specifically designed for acne prone skin types, and you can buy it from most drugstores.
Follow with a product that contains a gentle AHA or BHA to exfoliate the skin and a gentle concentration of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, to destroy acne causing bacteria.
We like REN Clear-Calm 3 Anti-Acne Treatment Mask. It provides anti bacterial action and it reduces inflammation. Other excellent products include Avene Cleanance Expert, La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Daily Oil-Free Clarifying Moisturizer, and Shiseido Ibuki Multi Solution Gel. For adult acne, try Dermalogica’s MediBac Clearing adult acne treatment kit.
If you are looking for a natural acne treatment, try Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum. It contains a natural salicylic acid alternative.
For a targeted acne spot treatment when you notice a zit, we like Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel.
Also take a look at Clinique Acne Solutions.
If your skin feels traumatized, try SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel. Apply it to the entire face.
If this doesn’t work, see your doctor. You may need prescription products.
Topical prescription. Anti bacterial and antimicrobial. Use Aczone to control mild to moderate acne.
Your doctor will advise you if you are a suitable candidate. Gentle, yet effective. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, Aczone does not dry out the skin. But since it’s only available by prescription, you will need to see a doctor. It works on existing breakouts and helps prevent future breakouts, too.
In our experience, this is one of the most effective acne treatments. The bad news: the product retails for $225.00.
#5 Topical Antibiotics
Topical antibiotics work by destroying acne-causing bacteria. Suitable for short term use. The most commonly prescribed topical antibiotic ingredient is clindamycin, and it typically has fewer side effects than oral antibiotics.
Onexton contains clindamycin phosphate. It also has benzoyl peroxide – a drying agent. Recently approved by the FDA, Onexton works by targeting bacteria that causes acne. It can be applied to the whole face, and also treats whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples.
Similar to Onexton, Ziana Gel is an antibiotic that contains clindamycin. However, it contains tretinoin instead of benzoyl peroxide.
Prescription retinoids including tretinoin, isotretinoin and adapalene can be effective for treating acne. Derived from vitamin A, retinoids work by unclogging congested pores that lead to breakouts. Retinoids can also help clear pores.
If it is your first time using retinoids, your skin will get worse before it improves, and may peel for the first few weeks.
Brand names include Adapalene, Altinac, Atralin, Refissa, Avita, Epiduo, Tretin-X, Differin Renova, Refissa, and Retin-A, Retin A Micro, Stieva-A Forte, Tazorac, Tretin X, and Vitinoin.
Further, retinoids can drastically improve your skin tone and texture.
#7 Oral Contraception
If you suffer from hormonal acne, most topical products may not work. Instead, your doctor may prescribe oral contraception to regulate hormones. How does it work? The pill reduces your body’s testosterone, which in turn can reduce acne.
Oral contraception typically doesn’t have the drawbacks of stronger acne medicine. Brand names include Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, Yaz, Estrostep Fe, and Yasmi.
Similarly, Spironolactone is an effective treatment for hormonal acne. It is particularly useful for women who suffer from hormonal acne around the jaw line.
#8 Oral Antibiotics
In cases of severe acne, physicians may prescribe oral antibiotics.
As the first step, dermatologists will prescribe topical antibiotics. If your skin doesn’t respond to topical antibiotics, your dermatologist may consider oral antibiotics.
But, new research shows that a group of patients with acne are becoming increasingly resistant to oral antibiotics. As a result, these individuals are putting themselves at risk of developing a so-called “super acne.” This group can spread acne through direct person to person contact. Growing antibiotic resistance is making it more and more difficult to treat acne with antibiotics. For a number of years now, the bacteria responsible for causing acne has become so resistant to antibiotics that physicians are looking at alternative treatment options.
Tetracycline (Diabecline) is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic, but other common antibiotics include erythromicin and clindamycin. They work by targeting inflammation, and are only effective for a short period – up to 3 months.
Brand names include ClindaTech, Topicil, Eryacne, Tetralysal, and Minocycline.
Side effects include birth defects, headaches, and depression, to name a few.
#9 Isotretinoin (Accutane or Roaccutane)
Only use as a last resort, for severe acne. Your physician will only prescribe this if you do not respond to topical acne prescription products. It works by shrinking the sebaceous glands and reducing oil production.
It is one of the most controversial drugs due to the side effects, which can include liver damage, headaches, erectile dysfunction, seizures, heart attack, stroke, hearing impairments.
Isotretinoin can’t be used during pregnancy as there is a very high chance it will cause severe birth defects.
Brand names include Absorica, Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Sotret, and Zenatane.
#10 LED Treatments Blue Light Therapy
Regular treatments required. Gentle alternative to convention acne laser treatments.
Lasers usually rely on thermal injury to create changes but LED blue light treatments do not rely on thermal injury. Instead, they work by killing acne-causing and healing irritation. Don’t waste your time with at-home devices as they are too gentle. Instead, consult with your dermatologist for professional blue light acne treatments.
#11 Cortisone Injections
When you feel a large zit developing, we recommend going to your doctor to ask about a cortisone injection. It is an anti-inflammatory steroid medication that will greatly reduce inflammation associated with pimples. This could help prevent acne scars.
Painless, safe and quick, Isolaz combines light energy with a gentle vacuum to designed to draw out acne causing bacteria. It won’t cause the skin to become sensitive to the sun. The only downside is that you will need to have regular treatments. The average price per treatment is $400-600, but your physician may offer a discount if you purchase a pack of treatments.
#13 Medical Facial
Performed by dermatologists, and provides modest results. Treatment includes a peel followed by comedonal extractions. Regular treatments required. Your dermatologist may combine medical facials with other acne treatments, such as lasers.
#14 Laser Therapy
Laser treatments work by destroying sebaceous glands to reduce oil production. Dermatologists prefer working with diode lasers for acne as they offer the right wavelength to target the sebaceous glands. Diode lasers are gentler and safer than traditional ablative lasers. Regular treatments are required. Another excellent laser alternative is Elos by Syneron. Elos uses radio frequency and light to target sebaceous glands.
If you’re concerned about acne scars, take a look at fractional lasers such as such as Fraxel. Avoid invasive lasers such as CO2 as they have significant downtime and risk of complications.
If you’re taking Isotretinoin, you aren’t a suitable candidate for laser treatment. Moreover, you may need to wait for 6 months. Isotretinoin increases the risk of post inflammatory hyper pigmentation.
Combining Acne Treatments
It is important to note there is no cure for acne. A combination of the above treatments will prove more effective in managing acne symptoms. Often dermatologist will recommend 2 or 3 different treatments to manage acne.