Acne cures that really work: Tips from a dermatologist

acne cures that work

Acne generally arises during puberty, causing some to suffer from serious breakouts that require prescription medication. Retinoids are often used by dermatologists in the fight against acne.

Story Highlights

    Many over-the-counter products contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, both effective treatments For more serious cases of acne, it may be time for a prescription cream or oral medication Retinoids can be very effective in treating all forms of acne, says Dr. Dorian Gravenese Left untreated, some forms of acne can leave permanent scars on the face and body

24 CONNECT 2 TWEET LINKEDIN 1 COMMENT EMAIL MORE

It’s rare to find the adolescent who doesn’t suffer from an occasional breakout. But acne, a skin condition that generally arises during puberty, can lead to scarring if it’s not treated properly.

These days, acne is found in increasingly younger patients, with girls often afflicted by age 10 or 11, and boys a few years after that, said Dr. Dorian Gravenese. a dermatologist with Scarsdale Medical Group in Harrison. With the proliferation of products aimed at acne sufferers, we asked Gravenese for help in understanding which treatments are best.

Do over-the-counter acne products really work?

There are a lot of really great products available. My colleagues in pediatrics and family medicine would certainly recommend using benzoyl-peroxide washes or low-strength benzoyl-peroxide gels. The downside to benzoyl peroxide is that it bleaches anything in its path. There are also lots of salicylic-acid products. in the form of cleansers, pads and on-the-spot treatments.

What about those “acne systems” advertised on TV?

There are many lines like that, an “acne system” with a wash, a lotion and a toner. And for many kids with mild acne, that’s going to be enough. Of course most dermatologists don’t believe in toners. Any of those active ingredients can be delivered to the skin in a much less harsh vehicle.

If someone has more serious acne, what do you prescribe?

It all depends on what kind of acne they have, and if it’s on the face or also the back and chest. The mainstay of most acne treatment is to use a broad group of products called retinoids. They include Retin-A, generally known as tretinoin. and it has cousins in the same family that work on the same principle: They increase cell turnover so that plugs in the blackheads don’t stick in the skin, and wash away easily.

Aren’t there also combination products that use retinoids?

There are a lot of products with clindamycin (an antibiotic) plus a retinoid. Moms say boys don’t like to wash their faces so much, so getting them to put acne cream on in the morning and night is asking a lot. These have it all in one tube. They’re getting two active ingredients that work differently for two different types of the causes of acne. One causes more of the blackheads, and one causes more of the pustular lesions, which is where you need the topical antibiotic. There’s also a product that has a retinoid and benzoyl peroxide, but I wouldn’t use it on the back, because you risk bleaching clothing.

How long do you need to use these products before they start working?

Once a day, and you’ve got to stick with them. You have to try each product for at least four to six weeks in order to see an improvement. We’re very careful about educating patients, because one of the side effects of these retinoids is they’re irritating. You’re supposed to use a pea-sized amount.

Isotretinoin. which used to be sold under the brand name Accutane, has some potential side effects and requires that patients take part in a national registry. Do you prescribe it?

It’s the ultimate retinoid. Basically it’s like Retin-A in pill form. All of us in our practice use it, but some doctors are a little fearful of it. We need to make sure everybody is on board and understands what this medicine is about. It causes incredible results that no other medicine can offer for acne, but it has its risks and you need to understand what they are.

What about blue-light therapy for acne?

It’s not a first-line type of treatment. There are also those of us who are a little cautious. We are pretty sure it doesn’t have any long-lasting effects on the skin, but we’re not sure of the long-term consequences in terms of raising someone’s risk for skin cancer.

Does acne go away by itself if you don’t treat it?

It eventually disappears, but it may leave some mild scarring and in some cases very significant scarring. To go through life with all that scarring when someone could have made a difference for you would be very unfortunate.

Interview was edited and condensed.

24 CONNECT 2 TWEET LINKEDIN 1 COMMENT EMAIL MORE

Similar articles: