If you’re reading this article, you are struggling with moderate to severe acne. Perhaps it’s…
If you suffer from regular acne breakouts, just know you’re not the only one. According to The National Institutes for Health, acne affects an estimated 80 percent of people between ages 11 and 30. With that many experiencing acne on a regular basis, it’s no wonder people are constantly searching for the best acne treatments to achieve clean and clear skin!
This is why we sat down with expert dermatologist Dr. Deepa C. Lingam to talk about all the top acne treatment options. Keep reading if you’re ready to uncover the top ways to treat acne and powerful acne-blasting techniques dermatologists swear by.
Best Acne Treatments from an Expert Dermatologist
In the following sections, we ask Dr. Lingam about everything from effective topical acne treatments and oral acne treatments to how best treat acne at home vs. when you should visit a doctor and what lifestyle changes you can make today to reduce future acne breakouts. Let’s dive in!
Q: What are your recommendations for topical acne treatments? And how do they work?
1. Topical Retinoids (i.e. Retin-a, Differin, Tazorac, etc.)
Dr. Lingam tells us, “This topical acne treatment option, which is typically applied in the evening, helps prevent clogging of pores by encouraging the shedding of skin cells, speed up cellular turnover, and slow collagen breakdown.
However, these medications are strong and can cause skin irritation and dryness. Therefore, you might need to ease into this type of treatment by using it every other night to every 3rd night at the start of therapy. To make it easier on your skin, mixing topical retinoids with a moisturizer can help to reduce the dryness and irritation.
When used during the summer months, topical retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it is important to apply sunscreen daily.”
2. Topical Antibiotics
“This type of acne treatment not only kills the bacteria suspected of causing acne but also helps reduce redness and inflammation.
I also commonly recommend the combination of topical antibiotics, like Clindamycin and Minocycline (Amzeeq), with benzoyl peroxide to help reduce the likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance. Such medications include BenzaClin, Duac, and others.”
3. Azelaic Acid
Dr. Lingam tells us, “This acne medication has antibacterial properties and can be safely used not only during pregnancy but also while breastfeeding. Additionally, it can help manage post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that occurs with some forms of acne.”
4. Topical Products with Salicylic Acid
“Salicylic acid helps prevent the clogging and blocking of pores by promoting the shedding of dead skin cells.”
5. Topical Dapsone (Aczone)
“This is both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It helps with reducing inflammatory papules and pustules associated with acne.”
Q: What are your recommendations for oral acne treatments? And how do they work?
“Oral antibiotics, which help decrease bacteria and reduce inflammation in the skin, are used in the treatment of moderate to severe acne. Such antibiotics include doxycycline, minocycline, sarecycline.
I recommend these medications be used for the shortest time possible to help prevent antibiotic resistance. Additionally, combining these antibiotics with benzoyl peroxide helps reduce the risk of bacterial resistance.”
“Anti-androgen medications, such as spironolactone, are commonly used in the treatment of acne in women. This medication is effective at reducing the effects of androgen hormones on oil glands, which helps decrease oil production and reduce inflammatory lesions.”
“This acne treatment option is effective in addressing hormonal acne, as oral contraceptives decrease the circulation of androgens, which reduces the production of oil. There are a few oral contraceptives that are approved specifically for the treatment of acne.”
“Isotretinoin is an oral form of Vitamin A and tends to be my last resort option when addressing severe nodulocystic acne is unresponsive to numerous topical and oral therapies. It works by regulating proper exfoliation of the skin, reducing oil production, killing bacteria, and reducing inflammation.
This effective acne treatment doesn’t require continuous use either; Isotretinoin is a short-term treatment that takes approximately 5 to 6 months to complete. Although, it does require routine lab monitoring and monthly visits with us while on this type of therapy, since the side effects of Isotretinoin can be severe.”
Q: What is your expert advice on treating acne at home vs. in-office?
Dr. Lingam’s expert advice? “Many patients start treating their acne at home by using over-the-counter products that include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid face washes and leave-on products. This is a good place to start at the first sign of acne.
However, if over-the-counter treatments and products prove to be ineffective in controlling acne, we recommend you follow up with us for a thorough evaluation and discussion of prescription-strength topical and oral therapies.”
Q: What are some popular in-office treatments for acne Center of Surgical Dermatology offers to patients?
Acne treatments that we offer in-office include:
- Extractions of blackheads performed by our aesthetician.
- Various peels, such as 20% and 30% salicylic acid peels.
- Different strengths of glycolic acid peels and retinoic acid peels performed by our aesthetician.
- Intralesional steroid injections performed by the physician to help reduce pain and the size of a larger nodular or cystic acne lesion.
Q: Let’s talk lifestyle changes — what do you recommend patients change regarding their daily choices to help eliminate or prevent acne?
“There are several suggestions I would make here,” says Dr. Lingam. “Here’s my advice.”
- “Smaller studies have shown a possible link between high sugar intake and high consumption of low-fat dairy in the development of acne flares, so try to reduce the intake of these foods to alleviate future breakouts.
- It is important to wash acne-prone areas with proper cleansers daily, or even twice a day — morning and night — if you have skin that tends to be more oil-prone. Washing with water only is not sufficient to adequately remove dirt and oil from the skin.
- Use oil-free moisturizers and non-comedogenic makeup (preferably mineral makeup) to reduce the chance of breakouts and acne.
- Avoid cleansers or products that have a gritty or coarse texture, as they can irritate the skin and potentially enlarge pores.
- Avoid picking, squeezing, or popping pimples. This can lead to acne scars and skin infections.”
Q: Any other helpful information on acne treatments you’d like to include?
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, our clinic has noticed patients are experiencing more acne flares under their masks. Given this, it is important for patients to wash their masks frequently in a mild, fragrance-free detergent to help reduce acne breakouts.”
Clear Skin is Possible
If you’re suffering from acne and are ready to say goodbye to it as soon as possible, the experts at The Center for Surgical Dermatology would love to help you find the right treatment regimen to treat your acne. Let’s work together to help you achieve beautifully clear skin! Schedule an appointment with us today.
If you’re suffering from acne, you’re not alone. Center for Surgical Dermatology is a leader in acne treatment, so book an appointment online here or call (614) 847-4100 to schedule an appointment and start clearing your skin today.