What Acne Treatments Are Available?

The treatment of acne depends on the type of acne that a patient has. Since there are many different acne types, thorough assessment by Dr. Sapijaszko would be needed before specific therapy is recommended. It is important to have acne examined by a dermatologist as poor diagnosis and lack of experience can lead to inadequate therapy and resulting scarring.

Generally speaking, acne can be treated by one or the combination of the following modalities: washes, creams and lotions, chemical peels, oral medications (antibiotics, accutane or birth control pills) and light based technologies (laser, IPL, Blu-U or Aktillite).

The choice of treatments depends on many factors including the type of acne that the patient has, prior treatments tried, age of the patient as well as individual preference.

  1. Topical therapies are usually the first treatment option as they can be used for the vast majority of acne patients. Topical retinoids such as tretinoin (e.g. Retin-A®, Tazorac®, Differin®) have been documented to help reduce the acne lesion count (both inflammatory [red bumps] and non-inflammatory [skin-colored or brown spots]) and severity of individual lesions. Their side effects are related to local irritation and can be decreased by introducing these preparations slowly and by controlling the amount of drug applied to the skin at each time.

  2. Topical antibiotics, particularly in combination with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, are also very effective in the treatment of mild to moderate acne. It is advisable to use this drug combination (topical antibiotic with benzoyl peroxide), as this will greatly reduce the development of bacterial drug resistance. Furthermore, using topical antibiotic/benzoyl peroxide combination in the morning with topical retinoids at night will address most of the causes of acne. It will deal with bacterial component, altered skin desquamation and inflammation. It is because of these attributes that such a treatment combination is so effective.

  3. Chemical peels and topical salicylic acid are effective treatments against both comedonal [black and white heads] and inflammatory acne [red bumps and cysts]. These can also be very effective for early acne scarring.

  4. Systemic [oral] therapy is reserved for patients with moderate to severe acne that can result in scar formation. Oral antibiotics are mostly effective against inflammatory acne. They have both antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory properties. It is not advisable to maintain patients on prolonged oral antibiotic therapy limiting their continuous use.

  5. The most effective therapy for acne, and reserved for appropriate patients with severe acne, is oral retinoid, isotretinoin (Accutane®). It is a naturally occurring metabolite of vitamin A. It inhibits the sebaceous gland secretions and normalizes follicular epithelial desquamation. It is a teratogen and as such all women of child bearing potential require adequate pregnancy prevention measures during and for at least six weeks after the treatment.

Photodynamic therapy [such as Blu-U] is the newest modality to treat acne. It involves exposing the skin to special form of light. This form of light can be used either alone or in combination with a photosensitizer (preparation that makes the skin more sensitive to light) or not. This specific light exposure leads to the improvement of acne lesions over several treatment applications.

If you have further questions or concerns or wish to book a consultation appointment, please call us at 780-424-4440 ext. 2 or email us.

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The information provided on this website is for Canadian patients only and is meant for information and education that is based on experience and research.


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