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Acne Treatment

Acne can be a stubborn skin condition that can significantly impact your well-being, but there are many treatments available. Treatment options include topical and oral medication, phototherapy, and skin resurfacing therapies.

Acne treatment options

The effectiveness of acne treatments depends on many factors, including your acne type, other skin conditions, and complexion. Your dermatologist can create a custom treatment plan for you using a combination of treatments.

Topical treatments

  • Benzoyl peroxide targets acne-causing bacteria. It’s commonly found in over-the-counter products and can also be prescribed in higher strengths. It can cause skin irritation, peeling, and redness. 
  • Salicylic acid is a common over-the-counter acne treatment that reduces swelling, redness, and unblocks pores. It can cause skin dryness and irritation. 
  • Retinoids are a common first-step to treat acne. They help keep your pores clear of dead skin and oil, but they may cause skin irritation and sensitivity to the sun.
  • Antibiotics target acne-causing bacteria and also have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re usually combined with other treatments. They can cause skin dryness, itching, and mild irritation.

Oral medications

  • Antibiotics can be taken orally for moderate to severe acne. Oral antibiotics can cause other side effects such as yeast infections in women, sensitivity to light, and excess pigment in the skin, mucus membranes, and teeth.    
  • Hormonal therapy can decrease skin oiliness and reduce your acne overall. Women’s birth control pills can help with acne symptoms in this way. Hormonal therapies can cause a wide range of side effects. 
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane) reduces skin oil and acne causing bacteria, and is also an anti-inflammatory. Isotretinoin can cause serious side effects including depression and suicidal thoughts.

Phototherapy and skin resurfacing

  • Phototherapy such as intense pulsed light (IPL) and pulsed dye laser (PDL) use light to target acne causing bacteria. Multiple treatment sessions are usually necessary, but there is a low risk of side effects. 
  • Dermabrasion can reduce the appearance of acne scars. It uses a rotating wire brush or spinning diamond instrument to wear down the surface of your skin. As your skin heals, a new, smoother layer replaces the abraded skin. 
  • Chemical peels clear acne and temporarily reduce oil production using acids to remove superficial dead skin and oil. Chemical peels can cause irritation and may involve down-time as your skin peels and heals.

Refine Medical Spa Skin Clinic and Laser Center

233 East Erie Street Suite 2500
Chicago, IL
(866) 730-8537