There are many options for acne treatments. You might want to consider alternative treatments for acne that can be administered at your doctor’s office if prescription creams or antibiotics don’t work for you.
There are several types of office-based medical procedures that may be beneficial, such as light therapy and chemical peels.
No matter what acne treatment you choose, it is important to be realistic about your expectations. Most cases of acne cannot be treated, but can only be controlled. Most treatments won’t show any improvement for at least four to eight weeks. Your acne may get worse before it gets better.
Different Types of Acne Treatments
Acne is caused by bacteria. Different types of light can help reduce the reddening and swelling. Your doctor may apply a medication to your face to increase your skin’s sensitivity to light (photosensitizers) before the procedure. For multiple treatments, you might need to see your doctor.
Treatments may include blue light, red light, or a combination of both. To find the best treatment for acne using light, more research is necessary.
Pulsed light and heat energy can also kill acne bacteria. These treatments can also shrink oil glands (sebaceous), which reduces oil production.
Side effects of light therapy in treated areas could include:
- Crusting and peeling
- Skin tone changes
- Sensitivity to sunlight
Most commonly, steroids are used to treat acne that causes painful lumps under the skin’s surface (nodules or cysts). These conditions can take several weeks to heal on their own. The pain will subside, the lumps will flatten, and the skin may be clear within days.
Although this drug is very effective, it can have side effects such as:
- Thickening of the skin
- A skin tone that is lighter than usual
Steroid injections are usually used to treat stubborn cysts or nodules. Because of side effects and frequent doctor visits, they are not recommended for widespread acne treatment.
For mild cases of acne, chemical peels can mildly improve skin appearance. This treatment has been used for years to reduce the appearance of sun damage, fine lines and minor scarring.The chemical peels dermatologists use can’t be purchased over-the-counter. Your doctor will apply mild chemicals to your skin during a chemical peel. This helps to unclog pores, remove dead skin cells, whiteheads, and blackheads. The chemical peel can also stimulate new skin growth. For best results, multiple treatments are necessary. These treatments are not lasting.
- Side effects possible include redness, swelling, scabbing and crusting.
- Discuss the potential risks of chemical peels with your doctor, especially if you have exaggerated scar tissue formation (keloids) is a sign of a damaged skin.
Drainage and extraction
Cysts, whiteheads, and blackheads may be removed by your doctor using special instruments. Although it temporarily improves your skin’s appearance, this can also lead to scarring.