Although there are many different effective acne treatments, there isn’t one surefire cure, and now the American Academy of Dermatology is recommending a combination of acne treatments for the best results. In a recent statement, the AAD announced that combining two or more types of treatments is the best way to reduce acne in the majority of patients.
Treatment options that the AAD recommend include topical therapy, oral antibiotics, and isotretinoin (e.g. Accutane). Many topical creams or gels, such as benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, and salicylic acid, are available over the counter and are usually considered the best first line of treatment for mild acne. Dermatologists sometimes prescribe oral antibiotics, such as clindamycin or doxycycline, to treat acne that is moderate to severe, hasn’t responded to topical treatment, or covers large areas. Oral isotretinoin is the only medication currently approved to treat severe cystic acne, but it is usually only prescribed when acne doesn’t respond to other treatments, due to the risk of serious side effects.
In their new guidelines, the AAD says that different topical medications, such as a retinoid and benzoyl peroxide, can be used at the same time for greater efficacy. Oral antibiotics and topical therapy can also be used together in some cases of moderate to severe acne. Some women and adolescent girls with acne may also benefit from taking an oral contraceptive containing estrogen in addition to using a topical treatment. Hormone-based contraceptive pills have been found to improve both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne in women.
Types of Acne Pimples Diagram
The AAD stops short of recommending in-office procedures, such as light therapy and chemical peels, due to a lack of conclusive evidence on the efficacy of these treatments. They do, however, say that laser resurfacing, chemical peels, dermabrasion, and skin fillers can be safely used to treat acne scarring.
Anyone who is concerned about their acne should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss treatment options. Because acne presents differently in different people, treatment should be tailored to the individual’s condition.
Whatever the treatments, the AAD recommends using all skin products and medications exactly as prescribed and allowing enough time for them to take effect. It often takes four to eight weeks before patients start noticing an improvement in the appearance of their skin.