All About Acne

Treating Acne

If you have acne, don't pick at your face! Clean it, get a facial, go see a dermatologist (who can pop those pesky pimples for you), just don't take matters into your own hands. A zit that sticks around for a week or more is far better than a scar that sticks around forever.

Here are some other things that might help:

  • Oral antibiotics that kill the P. acnes bacterium. Tetracycline is a common antibiotic used for this purpose, and it works by taking away the bacteria's ability to produce proteins.
  • Topical antibiotics. A note of warning -- as is the case with oral antibiotics, it's possible for the P. acnes bacteria to become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics.
  • Retinol, a substance produced from vitamin A that causes your skin to dry out and peel.
  • Chemical peels using glycolic acid, an exfoliating agent that will loosen up and separate dead skin cells in your pores.
  • Birth control pills. Some women have had success treating your acne with oral contraceptives, which reduce sebum production in women.
  • Isotretinoin. This medication, which comes in drugs like Accutane, can often treat acne that's resistant to other types of treatment. The use of isotretinoin must occur under strict medical supervision due to its serious side effects.
  • Microdermabrasion. Way cooler than just washing your own face, microdermabrasion is a process whereby a small device blows crystals onto your skin, which are then vacuumed up.
  • Laser. Diode lasers lay waste to your sebaceous glands without harming the surface of your skin. (Topical painkillers are often used in treatment, which can hurt.)
  • Light and heat treatments. Various forms of low-intensity light (blue, red, green-yellow or a combination) seem to be effective in killing the P. acnes bacteria. The use of heat shrinks the size of the sebaceous glands.
  • Treatment of acne scars. There are several ways to help make acne scars less noticeable, such as injecting them with fat or collagen or treating them with lasers. Surgery can also help fill out especially severe scarring, as can skin exfoliation treatments like microdermabrasion.

­Nobody likes acne, and fortunately there are a lot of good resources out there to help you deal with yours. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist to find the best solution, and with a little luck and effort, you may just find the solution that's right for you.

For more articles on acne, skin care and hormones in general, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


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  • American Acne & Rosacea Society.
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