Almost all cases of acne can be effectively treated. The goal of treatment is to promote the healing of existing acne lesions, stopping new lesions from forming, and preventing the formation of acne scars.
Acne treatment aims to control one or more of the underlying causes of acne. For instance, topical retinoids unclog sebaceous glands and keep pores open, while antibiotics are used to fight the P. acnes bacteria. Isotretinoin (Accutane) and hormonal agents, such as birth control pills, are used to reduce sebum (oil) production.
What is the best acne treatment plan?
Your doctor will recommend an acne treatment plan based on these factors:
- Severity of your acne. Mild acne may respond well to the use of benzoyl peroxide or a topical retinoid only. Moderate acne may require a combination of acne medications, such as topical retinoid with an antibiotic. Severe acne with scarring may require treatment with an oral retinoid (Accutane, Sotret).
- Results of previous acne treatments. Stronger acne medications may be added to the treatment plan if previous medication do not bring acne under control.
- Degree of acne scarring. More aggressive therapies may be started earlier if acne scars have already started developing.
- Gender. Some treatments are available only for females, such as birth control pills.
Whatever your treatment plan, it is important that you give it enough time to work. This may mean waiting 6 to 8 weeks to see results. While the older acne lesions are healing, the medication is hard at work keeping new lesions from forming. Staying on your medication is the most important step to getting acne under control.