Now that we’ve discussed some of the acne treatment options that don’t work and the pitfalls of listening to the loud voices that attempt to convince you otherwise, let’s turn our attention to prescription acne treatments that really work.
It’s pretty obvious that people with significant acne are going to need a significant treatment to gain control over their acne breakouts. This usually means that they will need prescription acne treatments. Patients come to the Advanced Acne Institute all the time after having tried many other treatment options without success. By the time patients make it to the Advanced Acne Institute, they’re often very frustrated and are desperate for an effective treatment plan. So let’s discuss prescription treatments that really work to handle acne.
At the Advanced Acne Institute, our goal is to deliver effective treatment from the start, which almost always includes prescriptions for acne treatments. First we get to know our patient and discuss expectations. We determine what each patient is striving for and how aggressive they want to be in their treatment plan. Not everyone is searching for completely clear skin, so prescription acne treatments are not always needed. For example, some patients only want to achieve a certain degree of improvement. Others want only to use a regimen that will keep their acne stable. The majority, however, are searching for a treatment that will result in completely clear skin, so prescription acne treatments are almost always required. So the next step is to examine the patient and then discuss a treatment plan tailored specifically for him or her; a plan that has a good expectation of actually working.
Let’s get more specific, starting with what is considered mild acne. For example, a patient who has only blackheads or whiteheads would likely benefit from a treatment program that would obviously be less aggressive than someone with more severe acne such as with acne cysts and scarring. However, this is not always as simple as it seems. It is important to know that even mild forms of acne are not always easy to treat, even with prescription acne treatments. In fact, sometimes the so-called mild types of acne are even more resistant to treatment than are more severe forms. This is because we often rely on topical therapies to treat mild acne. Topical acne therapies can be either over-the-counter or prescription acne treatments. We use medications such as topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and a lot of other creams, gels, lotions and washes. Sometimes, these options actually show improvement. Some patients with mild forms of acne do very well with these options. The problem is that many do not. Most patients might get a little better but usually never reach complete clearing of their breakouts. So many patients who start out with just topical medications often become frustrated with their lack of results and eventually start searching for more effective options, including other prescription acne treatments.
Topical Acne Medications
Before we turn our attention to other options, let’s be clear on the role of topical medications in managing acne. When used alone, something we call “monotherapy,” topical regimens are less often helpful. We usually incorporate topical medications into an overall treatment program. Topical acne treatments can play an important role for a variety of reasons. First of all, studies support the use of topical benzoyl peroxide to control the bacteria that grow inside acne-prone pores. This is especially important when an acne patient is under treatment with oral antibiotics. The benzoyl peroxide can limit the ability of the bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic. Also, the use of an appropriate topical regimen can be an effective skin care strategy to assist with cleansing and improving the skin’s quality and texture and can help to exfoliate skin cells on the surface and within sticky pores.
In addition, it’s very important for an acne dermatologist to institute a skin care regimen to make certain that a patient’s acne is not made worse by an inappropriate skin care routine chosen by the patient. There are many skin care products to choose from and patients are at the mercy of the advertisements and promises of the skin care companies, which can often be misleading. So there are many reasons why an appropriate skin care regimen with topical skin care products is beneficial to an overall acne treatment program.
At the Advanced Acne Institute, we use our proprietary acne treatment system called “Rotational Therapy™” which was reviewed in a previous blog post. Rotational Therapy was developed at the Advanced Acne Institute over years of direct patient observation. The Rotational Therapy system incorporates two medicated wash-off therapies that are used strategically on targeted days of the week to treat acne on dual therapeutic levels. Rotational Therapy also includes Hydrating Base™ which is a very effective skin conditioning lotion that hydrates and conditions the skin to help prevent any dryness or irritation associated with acne. The Rotational regimen was developed to offer the maximal therapeutic effect for a topical treatment program and provides a very effective supportive treatment for patients at the Advanced Acne Institute undergoing prescription acne treatment.
In our next blog post we’ll finally begin to discuss specific treatments that “really work” for treating acne.