As moderate acne and severe acne cases are harder to control and treat than mild acne, over-the-counter medications may not be as effective and prescriptions may be required.
Doctors will often prescribe topical prescription medications for qualified acne cases. There are a variety of prescription treatments available, including topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, and combination medications for acne.
Topical retinoids are used in anti-aging efforts, and can speed up the rate of cell regeneration, aiding your skin in sloughing off the dead skin cells at a regulated rate. In some patients, retinoids can also serve as an anti-inflammatory agent, but they have been known to cause irritation when first used.
If you suffer from harsh, inflammatory breakouts, a doctor will likely prescribe topical antibiotics. This is a pimple medicine designed to help reduce P. acnes bacteria that causes inflamed, infected acne lesions. Some studies have purported that use of these antibiotics has made bacteria more resistant to treatment, and it may be that these treatments are less effective than they were in the past.
Combination medications are exactly what they sound like—acne medications that harness the power of two acne-fighting ingredients in one bottle. These are generally made up of topical retinoid or benzoyl peroxide treatments along with topical antibiotics.
If topical treatments are ineffective, doctors may prescribe oral medications for acne. These can help clear up acne breakouts and other skin conditions, but they come with their fair share of potential side effects and consequences.
Oral antibiotics are designed to kill the acne-causing bacteria found within your skin pores. The most common oral antibiotics prescribed for acne treatment are Tetracyclines, which include Minocycline and Doxycycline, and Erthromycin. Like their topical antibiotics counterparts, bacterial resistance may result in ineffectiveness of this treatment regimen so overuse is to be avoided.
Usually only used in severe cases of acne, Isotretinoin is a form of vitamin A designed to reduce the amount of sebum produced by the skin’s oil glands and help the skin renew itself at a faster rate. Isotretinoin has become a bit infamous (under its common name Accutane) after reports of mental health issues and serious medical side effects as a result of this medication hit the media.
This type of oral medication is only useful and appropriate for acne cases in adult women. Spironolactone is not designed for acne treatment, but has proven to clear the skin after long-term use. This acne medicine is actually meant to treat conditions that result from too much aldosterone by preventing the body from absorbing too much salt and regulating potassium levels.
It's important to learn how to prevent severe acne from leaving permanent marks, so check out this guide to treating and preventing acne scars.