A major breakout can be incredibly frustrating — especially if you’re taking excellent care of your skin or have never been acne prone before. Even a single zit can drain self-confidence, and research has found that severe acne negatively impacts the subject’s work and academic performance, social life, and relationships. But fear not, even if you think you’ve tried it all, you’re far from at the end of your rope. Here’s how to know if prescription acne treatment is right for you.
If You’ve Already Tried Over-the-Counter Treatment
Over-the-counter spot treatments might be a good place to start treating early acne breakouts. Once you’ve tried all of the above though, it’s time to call in the professionals. Your dermatologist can determine whether an oral treatment or topical prescription remedy is needed. And, of course, your derm can also recommend skincare to complement your prescription acne treatments to hasten healing and reduce redness, irritation, and dryness that may be caused by the Rx.
If You’ve Never Been Breakout-Prone Before
Plenty of acne-prone teens continue to have acne into adulthood, but some adults may suddenly start breaking out later despite a lifetime of clear skin. Adult-onset acne may be caused by fluctuating hormones (especially among women), stress, changes in your skincare routine, or medication side effects, among other causes.
If switching up your skincare products — look for non-comedogenic products, and don’t forget that overly drying out your skin can also cause increased oil production and acne flare-ups — doesn’t treat the issue, head to the dermatologist.
If Your Acne is Scarring
If cystic acne has already caused scarring on your face or body, don’t panic! There are treatments to reduce scarring. However, treating the acne early on is far easier than eliminating scars after the fact. See a dermatologist to determine what type of treatment will best address your acne.
If You Need to Be Camera-Ready — Stat!
In select circumstances (your wedding is next week, your job involves being on camera, or you have a major presentation in two days, for example), a one-off intervention for a single zit or breakout can make a lot of sense. In these cases, you can submit a consultation through SkyMD and your dermatologist will determine if you should come in for an extraction, light therapy, and/or cortisone shot.
Types of Prescription Acne Treatments
Topical Prescription Acne Treatments
Not all acne responds to over-the-counter topical acne treatments, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Your dermatologist may include a prescription retinoid in your treatment plan to help reduce pore clogging.
Oral Prescription Acne Treatments
Oral acne treatment is usually the next step once topical treatments have not worked. For women, one treatment option is estrogen and progestin combined oral contraceptives, which help address acne by adjusting hormone levels. Anti-androgen drugs can also address a root hormonal imbalance causing acne. Birth control pills and anti-androgen medications do have some side effects and can’t be used for men or women in all circumstances.
A short course of oral antibiotics to control acne is often very helpful, as well. If none of the above have worked, your dermatologist may recommend isotretinoin treatment. Isotretinoin treatment is remarkably effective for treating severe acne, and works by addressing all of the causes of acne: excess oil, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. While incredibly effective, isotretinoin may cause side effects such as increased risk of ulcerative colitis, depression and suicide, and birth defects.
Procedures That Treat Acne
There are several in-office treatments that your dermatologist can offer to treat your acne. Extraction and drainage and cortisone steroid injections are popular for circumstances when you need your skin clear ASAP. In these cases the dermatologist is addressing one or more specific pimples, as opposed to your acne overall.
Often used in conjunction with other treatments, laser and light therapies and beta hydroxy exfoliating peels are another acne treatment growing in popularity. These generally require a series of treatments for best results. While there can be minor side effects like redness and swelling, these are generally minor. One of the benefits of these treatments is that they can be used for people who have not responded well to the side effects of other medications. Lasers and micro-needling can also be used to address scarring from acne.
Ready to get started?
There is no reason to “deal” with acne a single day longer. There are many easy and effective acne treatments your dermatologist can prescribe. To get started, submit your visit through SkyMD and your derm will let you know where to go from there.