Acne Medications

When to See a Dermatologist for Acne

Severe or persistent acne can lead to long-term scarring and emotional distress, which is why it’s important to consult your dermatologist for acne treatment help.

Your dermatologist can help determine what types of acne you have to establish an effective treatment plan.

Diagnosing and Treating Acne

Many things contribute to the development of acne, including fluctuating hormone levels, air pollution, weather conditions, using oil-based personal care products, stress, some medications, and genetics. Your provider will examine your skin and diagnose your acne based on those findings and your medical history. Other skin conditions that may look like acne, such as rosacea, will also be ruled out.

Developing an acne treatment plan that is right for you depends on many things, including:

  • The type of acne you have (pimples, blackheads, cysts)
  • Your age and gender
  • Where the acne appears on your face and body
  • The severity of your acne
  • What treatments you’ve tried and if any have been effective
  • Whether you’re already experiencing scarring

Medications for Different Types of Acne

Whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples typically respond to topical acne medications, such as a retinoid or azelaic acid. If over-the-counter creams fail to reduce breakouts, a prescription acne treatment may be the best option.

Nodules and cysts are more likely to cause pain and scarring and typically require treatment with prescription medication or hormonal therapy.

Hormonal acne is typically associated with hormone fluctuations during puberty but it can affect women of any age. It often responds to oral contraceptive pills or a medication called spironolactone. Women who continue to experience breakouts while using other acne medications may find relief after beginning hormone treatment for acne.

Prescription Dermatologist Acne Treatments

If over-the-counter acne creams containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are not clearing up your skin consistently, it may be time to reach out to your dermatologist for acne treatment help.

Over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide kill bacteria that contribute to acne, while salicylic acid creams encourage cell growth and open pores. Your dermatologist may recommend trying a stronger formulation of these treatments or using them in combination before moving on to prescription acne medication.

Prescription retinoids and antibiotic creams are most effective at treating whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and papules. Persistent cysts and nodules or acne associated with hormonal fluctuations may require oral acne medication.

Topical Acne Medications

Topical Retinoids

These prescription medications are related to vitamin A and help treat acne by preventing oily buildup that clogs pores. Retinoids can be very effective in treating acne but may cause side effects such as sensitivity to sunlight and dry skin in some people.

Antibiotic Creams

Antibiotic creams treat acne by targeting the bacteria that contribute to breakouts. These creams can also help improve inflamed skin and pimples. Antibiotic creams are often prescribed in combination with over-the-counter medications or topical retinoids to help clear pores.

Oral Acne Medications

Oral Antibiotics

A bacterial infection beneath your skin can lead to acne outbreaks. When these breakouts are deep, such as in the case of nodules and cysts, an oral antibiotic can be beneficial. These medications start to work within a few weeks, but over time, some bacteria may develop a resistance to the antibiotics and your acne may return. Using a benzoyl peroxide cream in combination with oral antibiotics may help prevent antibiotic resistance from developing.

Birth Control Pills

Estrogen-containing birth control pills may reduce acne breakouts in women by reducing the effects of androgens, which are hormones that cause increased oil production in the skin’s pores. Signs that hormone treatment for acne may help include breakouts during your menstrual cycle and inflamed acne on your chin or lower jawline that recurs at the same time each month.

Oral Isotretinoin

For severe cases of acne, an oral retinoid called isotretinoin may help clear clogged pores by reducing oil production and killing bacteria in the skin. Isotretinoin, which is also sold under the brand name Accutane®, may cause dry skin, sun sensitivity, or other side effects and generally takes several months to begin working. This medication can cause birth defects and should not be taken by women who are or may become pregnant.

Corticosteroid Injections for Acne

If you suffer from painful and deep acne, a corticosteroid injection can rapidly relieve pain and the size and severity of your breakout. However, because using these injections repeatedly can cause unwanted side effects, corticosteroid injections are typically only used for treating the most severe acne breakouts.

Schedule Your Acne Medication Consultation

If you’re tired of struggling with acne and want to learn more about safe and effective prescription acne medications, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists for acne treatment.

ClearlyDerm Boca Raton Ft. Lauderdale Florida Dermatology