If there is anything about acne treatment that can be said with confidence, it is that no single acne treatment works for everyone. The benzoyl peroxide product that is a “miracle” acne treatment for a person who has naturally moist and chemical-resistant skin may generate a horror story for someone who has rosacea. The exfoliant that works great for blackheads on oily skin may offer no benefits at all for someone who has tiny red pimples on dry skin. And cosmetic coverups that work great on one skin type may cake or smear on another.

Acne treatment is not all or nothing. The “wrong” product may not cause you major skin problems. It may just not do you a lot of good. But since there is almost always a product that is a good match to your skin needs, you can save months of embarrassment and hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you just know your skin type and find the products that match your specific requirements.

What are the Possible Treatments?

We’re all individuals, so there may be variation in treatment depending on your particular needs and your doctor’s style of practice. Here are some of the most common:

Gels, lotions and creams
Oral antibiotics
Oral contraceptives
Photodynamic Therapy
Lasers for Acne

If over-the-counter (nonprescription) products haven’t cleared up your acne, your doctor can prescribe stronger medications or other therapies. A dermatologist can help you:

Control your acne
Avoid scarring or other damage to your skin
Make scars less noticeable

Acne medications work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection or reducing inflammation — which helps prevent scarring. With most prescription acne drugs, you may not see results for four to eight weeks, and your skin may get worse before it gets better. It can take many months or years for your acne to clear up completely.

The drug your doctor recommends depends on the type and severity of your acne. It might be something you apply to your skin (topical medication) or take by mouth (oral medication). Often, drugs are used in combination. Pregnant women will not be able to use oral prescription medications for acne.

Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of medications and other treatments you are considering.
Dr. Lawrence Jaeger is a board certified dermatologist who has a practice in New York. Dr. Lawrence Jaeger specializes in the treatment of all skin, hair and nail disorders including all skin growths.