Acne Medication - Which is Right for You?

By: RHendersen
If you are plagued by acne, you are more than likely also overwhelmed by the number of acne medications on the market. In addition to the cleansers, toners and astringents offered over-the-counter, there are also a variety of prescription medications that your doctor can prescribe for you.

You may wonder how many of the over-the-counter products are just hype and which ones can actually help clear your skin. With all the acne medication on the market, how do you decide which one is right for you?

First, don't choose an acne medication based on its promise to clear your acne overnight, or even in a few weeks. Even if you religiously use a product, you may see little or no improvement for the first two weeks. After that, it may take as long as three months for your pimples to clear completely.

If you have mild to moderate acne, over-the-counter acne medication may be the answer for you. These medications often contain drying agents which help to dry up the skin's excess oil. They can also contain anti-bacterial agents to help kill the bacteria that can make acne worse.

For those with severe acne problems, a visit to the doctor may be in store. Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic cream or oral antibiotic which can help to kill the bacteria that causes pimples.

Retin A creams, which are formed from a derivative of Vitamin A, may also be prescribed. These creams can help the top layer of dead skin cells, which often block the pores and cause pimples, flake off.

For the most severe cases, an acne medication called Isotretinoin is used. This medication is taken orally and helps to dry up over-active oil glands. Since this drug has dangerous side effects, such as liver damage and birth defects, it is usually used only as a last resort. However, in most cases, when taken for four - six months, the capsules completely clear acne in the majority of patients.

Since hormones can also play a role in the formation of acne, birth control pills are sometimes prescribed for teen girls suffering from acne. The pills most prescribed by doctors as an acne medication include those that lessen the activity of androgens, the male sex hormones that are responsible for producing oil.

While still in the experimental stages, phototherapy is also being used to help clear acne. Specially built light bulbs which emit blue light, or blue and red light have been found to clear acne as well or better that the use of benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in over-the-counter as well as prescription acne medication. However, since this technology is relatively new, it is still quite expensive.

The type of acne medication you choose can depend greatly on the severity of your skin condition. For the occasional breakout, over-the-counter products may be all you need. For more severe cases, however, you may require a prescription cream or oral antibiotic.

Your doctor or dermatologist can help you pick a skin care regimen and acne medication that is right for you and will get you on your way to clearer skin.
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