Types of Acne and How to Treat Them
Acne is typically a chronic skin condition that is very hard to cure. Some acne types, such as teen acne are temporary and can disappear without any intervention. And there are other acne types, such as acne in adults that usually requires treatment. But no matter the type and severity of acne it is possible to get rid of it. Today, there are thousands of treatment options available on the market to deal with these annoying red pimples on your face and body. But how to decide which treatment option is to choose? Do you need to see a dermatologist to get a prescription acne drug or is it better to go to a beauty salon to make facial? In this article you will find answers to these and many other questions regarding treatment for acne.
In general, every acne treatment belongs to a one of the three following categories: topical, systemic and procedural. A topical acne treatment is everything that is applied on your skin: different creams, lotions, gels, cleansing liquids, etc. They can be both prescription and over-the-counter products. A systemic acne treatment is an acne oral medication that is prescribed by dermatologist. And finally, procedural acne treatments include various skin care treatments done by cosmetologist in a beauty salon or spa centre. To determine which treatment is more suitable for you, you first need to identify the type and severity of your acne.
Topical Acne Treatments
As was said earlier topical acne treatments can be over-the-counter and prescription medications. First, let’s have a closer look on those products you can get off the shelf.
You can buy over-the-counter acne treatment product in a pharmacy, supermarket, cosmetic store or spa centre. These products can be effective for oily and combined types of skin prone to occasionally have acne breakouts. To find effective OTC acne treatment take a look at the product’s compound. Such products need to contain at least one active ingredient to fight those red pimples. These active ingredients include:
- Salicylic acid
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Glycolic acid
Regardless of the kind of the product you decided to use, whether it is a lotion, gel, cleanser, cream, toner or face mask, it should contain at least one of the above-mentioned active ingredients to work well. Very often producers of acne skin care products recommend using several remedies from one brand to increase the chances of eliminating blemishes from your face. Are acne treatments off the shelf suitable for you? If you have mild acne and a few blackheads then you can consider this option. But if your acne is severe these treatments can be useless for you.
In case over-the-counter medications don’t work for you, prescription topical medications are a great choice. You can get a prescription from your dermatologist. These acne treatments can be used to treat acne at different stages: from less severe to more serious stages of acne. Likewise over-the-counter acne treatments, prescription topical medications are available in a variety of forms, from light gels and lotions to toners and cleansing pads. Here are commonly prescribed topical treatments:
- Azelaic acid
- Topical retinoids
- Combination acne medications
- Topical antibiotics
- Benzoyl peroxide (prescribed)
Should you choose topical prescription medication instead of over-the-counter treatment? This is a good option, if you didn’t get any positive results after using OTC products for a month or longer.
Systemic Acne Treatments
Oral medications work from inside. Systemic acne treatments are usually prescribed when a strong remedy is required, for example in case of cystic acne. Nevertheless, they can also be used for other types of acne when topical treatments don’t help.
You can get oral drugs for acne treatment only with a prescription. These drugs include:
- Hormonal medications (oral contraception, spironolactone)
- Oral antibiotics
These medications, except isotretinoin, are usually taken in a combination with another topical acne treatment.
Procedural Acne Treatments
Professional skin care procedures are therapies done by a cosmetologist, esthetician or dermatologist in the medical centre or beauty salon. These therapies can’t treat the actual underlying cause of acne, but can significantly improve your skin clarity and texture. Procedural treatments, depending on the procedure, can be applied for all acne types, from mild to severe.
The most common procedural acne treatments from which you can benefit are:
- Comedo extractions
- Chemical peeling
- Acne Surgery
- Corticosteroid injections
- Acne treatment facials
Since such professional acne treatment therapies can’t completely treat acne, it is better to use them in addition to your acne treatment medication and not to solely rely on skin care procedures.
Visiting a Dermatologist
A dermatologist is a medical specialist who specializes in skin conditions. If you can’t clear up your face from red pimples and blackheads on your own, you should consider visiting a dermatologist. Don’t underestimate what a professional skin care doctor can do for you! Getting a medical help is an important step towards trying to leave your acne aside.
Your dermatologist will recommend you the best treatment option for your particular case and will support you during the treatment process. Consult your primary care doctor in order to make an appointment with a right dermatologist. At your first dermatology visit, your acne will be examined and you will be provided with a plan to get your acne breakouts under control.
Visiting an Esthetician
Skin care therapist, cosmetologists or estheticians are not medical doctors. They focus on the health and good look of the skin. They do cosmetic treatments to enhance its beauty and can help you to remove acne breakouts. Such procedures are effective for mild acne, but they can’t treat severe acne. Estheticians can give you advice on certain skin care products and suggest a suitable daily skin care routine. Skin care therapist can perform facials, waxing and deep cleansing treatments, as well as other procedures.
You can visit esthetician at day spa or a beauty salon. Some medical clinics also offer a cosmetology service to boost the effect of acne medications. It is up to you and your priorities whether to see a cosmetologist or not. If you want to get a consultation about skin care products or would like to have these nasty comedones extracted, a skin care therapist will be able to help you with all these issues.
While visiting an esthetician isn’t an absolute must, remember that visiting a dermatologist is highly recommended to everyone who struggles with acne.
Alternative Acne Treatments
Many people tend to look for natural treatments when a health problem hits them. Organic medications and remedies prepared at home are popular as they are believed to be less harmful for overall health. However, in fact alternative acne treatments are almost ineffective and can even worsen your condition. Some people try using garlic, milk of magnesia, apple cider vinegar and other home remedies in attempts to clear up the skin from blemishes. But there is no scientific prove that these things are helpful. In a worst case scenario they can even cause dermatitis.
Essential oil of tea tree and green tea extract are among the most popular natural remedies that are used to treat acne. There are skin care products which have essential oil of tea and green tea extract as main ingredients. Some doctors suggest making changes to a diet, like excluding foods high in fat and cutting out milk products and carbohydrates. No doubt such changes are very individual and can be effective in some people and make no result in others. And of course doing these things never gives you guaranties that your acne will disappear. So the best option is using an acne treatment medication with a proven effectiveness, especially in case of severe acne.
Choosing a Right Treatment for Your Acne Type
All these options can be overwhelming. It is hard to decide which acne treatment to choose, so to do this you need to know the type of your acne and evaluate its severity. This will help you to narrow down your choice and select the most effective for your case.
Treatments for Mild Acne Type
If you have a few blemishes and red pimples, most probably over-the-counter products will help you. Make sure a product you buy has an active ingredient which fights against acne and use this product once or twice a day for at least 2 months. For oily skin use special cleansers and creams regularly that will prevent new breakouts.
Treatments for Moderate Acne Type
OTC products can work for some rare cases of moderate acne, but the majority of people with moderate acne breakouts will need to get a prescription for topical acne treatment. Have you tried over-the-counter acne treatments with no luck? Stop buying products that don’t work for you and get a prescription topical medication.
Treatments for Severe Acne Type
Severe acne always requires a professional medical help. Visit a dermatologist ASAP. The sooner you start the treatment the quicker you will get rid of it. Severe acne treatment usually includes a combination therapy with an oral drug along with topical medication to clear up your skin from these serious breakouts. These medications will also reduce acne scarring.
Treatments for Comedonal Acne Type
Inflammatory red pimples are common signs of Acne, but there can be other signs, such as blackheads or whiteheads. These non-inflamed blemishes are typical signs of comedonal acne. Comedone is a plugged pore with oil and dead skin cells. Mild comedonal acne can be treated with over-the-counter treatments, but for more severe forms of acne it is recommended to get a prescription medication. The most effective treatment in this case will be to use topical retinoids. To clear up your skin from blackheads you can also use extractions.
Treatments for Acne on Body and Back
Acne can appear everywhere on your body, not only on the face. After face the most common places for the development of acne breakouts is upper body – the shoulders, neck, chest and back. It can be hard to get rid of body acne, especially if the red pimples are inflamed and happen over larger areas of the face. Usually this type of acne is treated with pills in conjunction with a topical medication.
Treatments for Butt Acne
Butt acne normally has a different cause than other types of acne, that’s why pimples on the booty are not considered as acne vulgaris. However the treatment options for butt acne are the same. Inflamed blemishes can appear on the buttocks due to wearing tight fitting synthetic clothes so your skin can’t breathe well and gets sweaty quickly. Wearing cotton underwear and taking shower often are essential to clear up the pimples on the booty.
Choosing Acne Treatment for Different Life Stages
Acne is a common issue among teenagers, but it can also happen at any other life stage. You will need to take into account your age to find an effective treatment for you acne.
Acne in Teenagers
Almost every teenager gets acne, it is explained by a hormonal imbalance which occurs when a child becomes an adult. Depending on the severity of acne treatments can include over-the-counter products or oral medications. It is not a good idea to leave acne untreated. It is always possible to treat it with so many effective remedies available. Parents can support their teens to manage acne, for example looking for a dermatologist or simply buying a topical acne treatment.
First signs of acne often become visible when a child is in a preteen period (age 8 to 12). Usually only few pimples appear, so it’s easier to prevent acne from worsening as a child enters a teenage period. Typically preteen acne is treated with OTC products. Parents will need to take charge to help their kids treat acne. At this age kids should learn how to care for their skin to be able to deal with acne when they get older.
Acne in Adults
It is remarkable how often adults have acne. Adult acne has different causes, but in most cases they are treated with prescription medications. Dermatologists very often prescribe topical retinoids for adult breakout. They are twice beneficial as they have an anti-aging effect that helps to reduce wrinkles and enhances the skin health. Hormonal problems can be a cause of adult acne so hormonal regulators like spironolactone or oral contraceptives might be prescribed.
Acne in Pregnant Women
It is very important to treat acne carefully while pregnant. Isotretinoin and Retin-A (tretinoin) can’t be used as they can be harmful for a baby. Consult your dermatologist or obstetrician to find the best treatment option which will be safe and effective. Treating acne in pregnant women can be unsafe if done without medical help. After the child is born acne can worsen or appear for the first time. Such factors as breastfeeding affect your acne treatment so a dermatologist’s guidance is needed.
Acne in Babies
Curiously, but even babies can have acne. Newborn baby acne or neonatal acne is very common and is not that serious as acne at other life stages. Baby acne can occur at the second month of life. It doesn’t require any treatment as usually it disappears naturally when mother’s hormones leave baby’s body. But in case the acne is persistent you can ask your pediatrician to prescribe your baby a topical medication for acne.
One Treatment Can Be Not Enough
Acne usually has multiple causes that occur at the same time. Therefore to successfully fight acne more than one treatment is needed because each treatment will work to eliminate just one cause.
For example, if you treat acne with a doctor’s help, you can use a prescription topical acne treatment to unclog pores and an antibiotic to kill the bacteria which causes acne. In case you treat acne on your own, you might use a cleanser and lotion for the same purposes: cleanser to unclog pores and tighten them and lotion on the base of benzoyl peroxide to diminish bacteria.
Obviously it may seem too much of the treatment for your skin and your skin can become dry and peeling. But over the time your skin will adjust and get better. Combining treatments is highly effective in treating acne so it’s absolutely normal to use more than one remedy.
It Will Take a Lot of Time to Get Rid of Acne
There is no acne treatment that will treat any type of acne. You can try several treatment options before finding the one that will help. We are all different as well and our skin and acne. What gives wonderful results for some people may not work at all for others. That’s why you will need to spend time before finding the perfect treatment plan for your skin.
This may be hard to accept, but if you want to effectively treat acne you need to be patient and systematic with your treatment. If you visit a dermatologist and have no positive results, do not blame him. Give it more time to work and continue following the instructions given by your doctor. Ask him what to do if the treatment he prescribed doesn’t help you. Maybe he will prescribe you a new one or insist on continuing your current treatment plan. You may need a few trials before finding a remedy that works for you.
As you start your treatment, wait at least 2-3 months to see an improvement. Pimples can’t disappear at one night; they will need some time to stop forming. At first, new pimples will unavoidably appear and can even become larger and more inflamed, so don’t be surprised if you will continue getting them after the treatment has started. The medication surely affects you, but just without visible results yet.
If your treatment doesn’t help you, check if you are using it as directed and according to the instructions. Sometimes we’re not using the product correctly unintentionally and end up crippling our treatments. Or we can change treatments without getting any suitable results continuously just because you didn’t give it enough time to work. You probably not realize that these breakouts come out and vanish on their own naturally irrespective of any treatments. It’s normal for acne to occur with no apparent reason. Here’s the thing: you need to stick to one treatment for a sufficient amount of time, even if your acne doesn’t improve at all in the beginning. Going through several “acne cycles” is common for everyone who is treating acne before seeing a real difference. Don’t give up and keep working with your doctor to achieve desired results.
Acne is an extremely complicated skin condition that has a lot of causes with some of them not fully understood. It is hard to get rid of it and it will always take plenty of time. Some treatments work for others, but are not effective for you and this is normal because everyone has different acne types and causes of acne. Remember that consistency is the most important when treating acne.
Many people are ashamed and have psychological problems because of these nasty red pimples on their face. They may not want to interact with others because they can be afraid that others will judge them. It is understandable, but you should keep trying and stay motivated! Set a goal for yourself to clear up your skin despite of any difficulties you might face while doing that. Just starting the treatment and taking care of your skin will already make you feel better and more confident. And of course, working with dermatologist is the best idea if you want to effectively treat acne. He will help you and guide you during the treatment process. So, take the first step!